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Hardy Orchid Species Part II: Calanthe Orchids
Calanthe It is a large genus with over 150 species. They are widely distributed from tropical Africa to tropical and subtropical Asia, the Pacific Islands and Australia. Only 6 species are used in temperate gardens. Calanthe flowers include red, orange, brown, yellow and cream colors.
They are considered easy to grow. Evergreen plants bloom in early spring on 1′ tall spikes with a spectacular display of 1.5″ flowers. In the wild, they grow in lightly shaded, well-drained forest edges. They usually grow in USDA zones 7-9 but will grow up to Zone 5 with winter protection to 10″ above the plants. There are heaps of leaves. Their growth requirements are similar to those of Bletilla…morning sun, afternoon light shade and consistent moisture. The name Calanthe is derived from the Greek kallos (beautiful) and anthos (flower). They make excellent cut flowers. The first recorded human-made orchid cross of any kind was produced in this genus. John Dominy, the father of modern orchid breeding, created Grex Calanthe dominy in 1856 by crossing Calanthe masuca and Calanthe furcata.
Calanthe aristulifera (Mount Kirishima Hardy Orchid) A rare Japanese endemic species found in the mountains of Kyushu Island, Japan. Calanthe aristulifera forms a clump of pleated, evergreen leaves up to 18″ wide, with 15″ tall flower spikes lined with tiny pale pink flowers in mid-spring. (Hardiness Zones 7-9)
Calanthe discolor (hardy terrestrial orchid, ebine, shrimp root) emerges from pseudobulbs with 2-3 strongly pleated 6″ long by 2″ wide leaves. As the bulbs are offset, the clumps can become very thick. Evergreen to 15 degrees F, the foliage is topped with 10″ short mahogany flower stems with pure white lower lips in mid-spring…Very easy to grow in that special spot in the woodland garden. (Hardiness Zones 6b-9)
Callanthe discolor ‘Echo Rose’ (Hardy Terrestrial Orchid, Ebine, Shrimp Root) Rose colored petals and pinkish white lip.
Calanthe discolor ‘Echo White’ (Hardy Terrestrial Orchid, Ebine, Shrimp Root) Several years ago, we acquired this outstanding Asian orchid from Don Jacobs of Eco Gardens. Don purchased the plant in Japan in the early 1980s. We are thrilled that this hardy orchid is the fastest multiplying calanthe in our garden. Calanthe ‘Echo White’ is either a selection or hybrid of the Japanese native Calanthe. In late spring, the green leaves flatten and form a nice backdrop to the spiky flowers of white-lipped flowers. (Hardiness Zones 7-9)
Calanthe kawakamiense (hardy terrestrial orchid) Evergreen ground-hugging, olive-green foliage bears 3′ tall flower spikes of large, fragrant, bright yellow flowers in early spring.
Calanthe nipponica (Hardy Terrestrial Orchid, Golden Spiritual Orchid) A rare, high-elevation, Japanese species from the mountains above Hokkaido and Kyushu. Flower 10″ tall spike produces 4-5 pale yellow and green flowers.
Calanthe reflexa (hardy terrestrial orchid, Natsu-ebine, summer shrimp root) Unlike many other hardy Calanthe, this is a summer bloomer. Narrow-lobed, evergreen leaves fall outwards, forming a 15″ wide rosette. In mid-to-late summer, clumps bear lightly scented, two-toned, pinkish-white flowers (Hardiness Zones 7-9).
Calanthe sieboldii (Hardy Terrestrial Orchid, Ki-ebine, Yellow Shrimp Root) (syn.Calanthe striata) This Japanese native terrestrial orchid is a great performer and one of our favorite calanthes. Evergreen foliage (less than 10 degrees F) forms a vigorous 15″ tall by 15″ wide clump of leaves. In spring, flower stalks rise up to 15 feet from the ground. Along the scape are dozens of small pansy-like flowers of bright yellow color. (Hardiness Zones 7-9, preferably cold)
Calanthe trierinata (Hardy Terrestrial Orchid, Monkey Orchid) A spring-flowering orchid with stunning 15″ tall spikes of yellow flowers with reddish-brown lips. Foliage is evergreen in mild winters but may become deciduous when temperatures approach 10 degrees. (Hardiness Zones 6-9 )
Calanthe Hizen Hybrids (Hardy Terrestrial Orchids) This new series of hardy orchid hybrids from Japan (Calanthe discolor Calanthe aristulifera) form basal rosettes of heavily plated olive-green leaves. The 8″ flower spike blooms in early spring and bears dozens of flowers, each creamy-to-pale pink with a dark pink/purple lip. (Hardiness Zones 7-9)
Calanthe sieboldii Takane Hybrids (Hardy Terrestrial Orchid, Ki-ebine, Yellow Shrimp Root) Imagine an easy-to-grow, beautiful, yellow-flowered orchid in your woodland garden! This Asian hybrid of Calanthe sieboldii produces tropical-looking evergreen leaves 8″ long by 2″ wide. In spring, clusters of yellow flowers atop 8″ long stems! (Hardiness Zones 7-9a)
Calanthe Kozu Spice (Hardy Terrestrial Orchid) Hybridized for flower shows in Japan, these hardy terrestrial orchids (Calanthe discolor Calanthe izu-insulis) are now available in the US. A perfect candidate for a woodland garden, the evergreen, pleated leaves mature in autumn and remain through most of the winter. In spring, 1′ flower stalks emerge, then become surrounded by flowers with a wonderful clove-like scent. Flower color can be bicolor combination like white and red, yellow and red, pink and red etc. (Hardiness Zones 7-9, preferably cold)
Besides Bletilla, Calanthe One of the easiest hardy orchids for gardeners.
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