Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Crucifix Orchids (Epidendrum ibaguense)

These beautiful orchids are known by a couple of descriptive and imaginative common names. One is the 'Crucifix  Orchid', named as such by the Catholic missionaries when they discovered in in South America. Another is the ""Ballerina Orchid" because the individual flowers resemble dancers in tutus (if only in shape, at least):

Personally I've always thought the flowers more closely resembled goldfish with their gaping mouths and protruding fins. The shape of the flowers really is amazing.

I've always marveled at these plants. They bloom year round, are very pretty and thrive on neglect. They seem to do well when pot bound, or growing on an exposed rocky cliff, with multiple flowers on the one stalk all year round.

Native to South America, they like a warm frost-free climate and plenty of sun. They thrive in a loose, open soil (like most orchids) and can be propagated by simply planting the little plantlets which develop on the stalks of the parent plant. They tend to be common in older suburbs, especially close to the coast. In fact the only place you can't find them is in the nurseries - a shame really as they are so hardy and easy to grow. Actually it is for this reason that many orchid societies tend to recommend them to those with brown thumbs or newbie orchid fanciers.

The below photo shows them growing in a garden in Brisbane featured on the cover of Gardening in Warm Climates by Desmond Herbert (1898 - 1976) and photographed by Frank Hurley (1885- 1962 and published in 1952 - a demonstration of their popularity in times gone by.

And here are some growing in a local garden:


  1. I've only recently become interested in these lately and have come to realise that they are more than a weed like orange flowering plant. They look great in many situations and also help if you want a retro look. The range of colours is also something I never knew about. Pink is spectacular

  2. Epidendrum ibaguesne stems do you cut them back after flowering any hints


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