Pleiones (pronounced plea-own-ease) are native orchids found in the mountains of the Himalayas, southern China and Taiwan. Most species enjoy cool conditions and are suited to cultivation in a cool semi-shaded location in Melbourne gardens. Pleiones are annual plants, dying down in late autumn to leave one or more bulbs. These remain dormant until early spring, when the new growth begins.For further details see the OSCOV Cultural Notes: How to Grow Pleoines from 2002.
In an article entitled: Growing Pleonies by Alan Hope from “Orchids in Victoria 2000” he writes, “Picture a potful of lipstick pink flowers, each with a striking trumpet-shaped labellum enhanced by delicate frilly edges. No, I’m not referring to a Cattleya but to Pleione formosana, the most common of the Pleione species grown in Melbourne”. He continues, P. formosana is a delightful and easily grown orchid, particularly for the new grower. It is hardy, requires a minimum of attention and best of all grows well in cold climates.
To understand more about Pleionie culture, Max Akam has created a monthly calendar which was published in “More Orchids in Victoria, 2002.” The following is an extract from his calendar for the cultivation of pleionies in the Victorian cooler months from June-August.
- At this time of year the bulbs are dormant, so now is the time to purchase more bulbs to add to your collection. Those of Pleione formosana are the most readily available. There are many different clones, for example, P. formosana ‘Pricei’, P. formosana ‘Serenity’, P. formosana ‘Oriental Jewel’, P. formosana ‘Clare’ and P. formosana ‘Polar Sun’. The last two have white flowers, while the most common clone in Melbourne is P. formosana ‘Blush of Dawn‘.
- When buying Pleiones, his advice is to select undamaged bulbs that are 30-40 mm in diameter and of a good green colour (or purplish black in some clones). They should have at least one new growth enclosed in a brown sheath on the side of the bulb. Well-grown bulbs can produce up to three new growths from their base each season. If the original old shriveled bulb is still attached, remove it carefully and discard. Trim the roots of the new bulbs back to a length of about 40 mm. These shortened roots will help anchor the bulb in its mix and prevent it from pushing itself out of the mix as its new roots begin to grow. For further information see the full article by Max Akam.
In the publication “Many More Orchids in Victoria 2003“, Michael Pender provides an update on Growing Pleonies. He states: The genus Pleione, long neglected by most orchid growers, has become popular in recent years thanks to a few people who have specialized in its culture and breeding. The most commonly grown species is Pleione formosana (syn. P. bulbocodioides), which has flowers varying from white to mauve in colour. P. formosana ‘White Beauty’ and ‘Clare’ have white flowers while P. formosana ‘Blush of Dawn’ and ‘Gladysdale’ are mauve. Commonly grown hybrids include Pleione Tongariro, P. Versailles and P. Shantung.
- During heat waves never water during the heat of the day.
- Water either early in the morning or wait until temperatures have fallen in late evening.
For further information see How to Grow Pleiones in “Still More Orchids in Victoria 2004.”
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