Caladenia, Spider Orchid, Fairy Orchid

Caladenia Harlequin X flava
Caladenia chapmanii X polychroma


Comments to the offered plants:

  Caladenia Harlequin X Caladenia flava.

This hybrid   has the famous Caladenia Harlequin as motherplant, a natural hybrid occurring in the Jarrah forests of south western    Western Australia. It was introduced into   culture by Bob Bates and later given to George Nieuvenhoven and others. Perfectly grown by George,  it won the Champion of the Show at  the 3. Australasian   Orchid Conference in Adelaide, 1996. The original plants were backcrossed to one of its parents, Caladenia flava to give very beautiful progeny. Two strains were selected as   parents to give the second generation. One close to Caladenia flava and one close to Caladenia Harlequin. Frost hardy up to -3°C.

Caladenia chapmanii X polychroma.

Flowers, which need space. The long filaments give flowers up to 200mm across.

Over 100 species, most are endemic to Australia. Some are found in New Zealand and one extends to Indonesia, Malaysia and New Caledonia.

Flower stems 5 to 90cm high, with a single leaf. The periant segments are often very long, giving the flower a spidery appearance. Caladenia has a attractive glandular and hinged labellum, usually decorated with calli. Many species are pollinated by sexual deceit, attracting male thynnid wasps (spider orchids), other species pretend to offer food (fairy orchids).

Spider orchids are the touchstone of terrestrial orchid culture and are not recommended for novice grower. As they have no or very little roots, they are completely dependent on mycorrhizal fungi for uptake of water and minerals. However, there are some species and hybrids which are easier to grow. All plants are summer dormant and rest as small tuberoids, that are protected by a touch, fibrous tunic. Plants emerge in early or late autumn and flower in late winter, spring or early summer. Culture sunny or lightly shaded. Frost hardy up to -2°C. Regular watering during the growing period is essential. Fertilize monthly with 0.1g/l until flowering. Reduce watering with the onset of flowers and stop as the leaves die back. Completely dry during dormancy. Occasionally a light spray of water for small plants and seedlings to prevent dehydration. If grown inside, move plants temporary outside in late summer as cool nights and some rain will stimulate plants into the new growing season. Repot every 2 or 3 years at the end of the dormancy.

Recommended potting mixes:
80% Seramis or fine to medium grade Perlite. 20% organic  components. Favourable are finely cut, fermented or N-impregnated wood shavings or saw dust. (Toresa has given good results). No peat. Spagnum moss is not suitable. Some extra wood on top of the pot. Substrates have to be well draining with a pH of 5 to 6.

Further reading:
Cultivation of  Australian  native orchids
produced by the Australasian Native Orchid Society, Victorian group Inc. Helen Richards, Rick Wootton, Rick  Datodi.
Orchids of Western Australia produced by the Western Australian Native Orchid Study and Conservation  Group. Kingsley W.  Dixon, Bevan J Buirchell, Margret T. Collins
Native orchids of Australia. David  Jones, 1993. Reed, ISBN 0 7301 0189 4.
Orchids of south-west  Australia. Noel Hoffmann and Andrew Brown, 1992. University of  Western Australia Press, ISBN 1 875560 13 0.
The Orchids of Victoria. Gary Backhouse and Jeffrey Jeanes, 1996. Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Victoria. ISBN 584.1509945.
Field Guide to the Orchids of New South Wales and Victoria. Tony Bishop, 2000. Second edition. University of New South Wales Press. ISBN 0 86840 706 2.

© 2000-2010 Heinrich Beyrle