How to Grow Ludisia Discolor: The Beautiful Jewel Orchid

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Most orchids are grown for the beautiful shapes, colors and scents of their exotic flowers. Not Ludisia discolor! This plant is unique in many ways as far as orchids go. I’ll get into that shortly. Although it does flower, the main draw is the stunning foliage this plant produces. Keep reading for a variety of care tips on Ludisia discolor!

Unless many orchids that you may be familiar with, such as Phalaenopsis (the ubiquitous moth orchid) or cattleya (the “corsage” orchid), Ludisia discolor, or Jewel Orchid, is a terrestrial orchid and is not an epiphyte.

Terrestrial means that Ludisia orchids grow on land. So in nature they grow in soil on the forest floor. Unlike Phalaenopsis, cattleya and countless others which are epiphytes and grow on trees in nature. In cultivation, those orchids are typically grown in a bark mix.

Ordinary potting soil it is then for Ludisia discolor! Lets get into Ludisia discolor care. It is a very easy orchid plant to grow and doesn’t really demand much from its owner!

In fact, if you like orchids, I recommend the following as among the easiest orchids that you can grow: Phalaenopsis (moth orchid), Brassavola nodosa, and Ludisia discolor (the Jewel Orchid).

Let’s talk about Jewel Orchid care now.

LUDISIA DISCOLOR CARE

LIGHT

Ludisia orchids really aren’t demanding at all. And when I say orchids, there is only one species in the Ludisia genus and it is the discolor species. These plants are native to the Asian tropics and grow in the ground on the forest floor.

They are considered low light orchids. My Ludisia discolor orchid, which is several years old now and grown from a small plant that was given to me by an orchid enthusiast with a greenhouse, has been growing in Eastern exposure.

If you have a window where you are growing happy African Violets, then your Ludisia discolor orchid will do well too!

Ludisia definitely does not like a lot of direct sun but a little bit of morning sun is fine.

I would recommend a nice big Northern exposure window if you have it, or an Eastern facing window. If there is too much sun, you can diffuse the sun a bit with blinds or curtains. You will definitely need to diffuse any direct sun from your Western or Southern exposure windows because they will have too much direct sun for these plants.

JEWEL ORCHID FLOWERS

As I mentioned, the flowers are nothing compared to many other orchids, but they still produce flowers. Take a look at my plant below. It is an older photo but I was able to get a good photograph. Dark foliage is hard to photograph!

ludisia discolor jewel orchid

You can see that it still puts on quite a show, but the flowers are small and insignificant compared to many other orchids. Ludisia discolor flowers will last quite a while. At least a few weeks if not more.

I do find that the plant becomes a little awkward looking when it is in bloom, and I have been known to prematurely cut off the flowers so I can get around it and take care of my other plants 😀

JEWEL ORCHID SOIL

Notice I did say soil! Since these are terrestrial plants, they should be grown in potting soil. I suppose you can also grow these in sphagnum moss as well, but I’ve grown them for years in plain potting soil and have had success.

Since these plants are not epiphytes, do not grow Ludisia in a bark mix. These plants like moisture so you will find it hard to keep up with watering otherwise.

I normally add perlite or pumice to my potting mixes, but I have done just fine using a mix like Miracle Gro all purpose potting mix. You can use it as-is or maybe add a bit of perlite.

JEWEL ORCHID WATERING

Ludisia discolor orchids like to stay moist.

In an ideal scenario, I let just the surface of the soil dry out before I water it again thoroughly.

The worst thing you can do is to let your Ludisia discolor dry out. If you let it dry out completely, the lower leaves will start to with and turn red. Especially if you do this repeatedly.

Do this repeatedly and you will have a sad looking plant!

FERTILIZING JEWEL ORCHID

Like all of my houseplants, I fertilize dilutely with every watering, skipping the winter months of course when plants are not growing.

I am a huge fan of Dyna Gro Grow fertilizer. It is a super high quality fertilizer that is urea-free and contains all the macro and micro nutrients necessary for plant growth.

TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY

This plant really isn’t fussy. If you are comfortable in a room, then your Ludisia discolor will be fine. It prefers warm temperatures and is tolerant of average indoor humidity. Although it does like higher humidity, it has never complained for me with average indoors conditions.

Jewel Orchid Propagation

Unlike many other orchids, you can take cuttings the old fashioned way with Ludisia discolor and easily root new plants!

ludisia discolor jewel orchid

The stems are relatively fragile, and I once broke a stem when I moved my plant. I simply put the cutting in water and it rooted easily. It took a couple months or so, but it rooted easily.

Be sure to change the water frequently so that you keep the water fresh and help to avoid rotting.

That’s really all you need to know about Ludisia discolor, or Jewel Orchid! If you remember only one thing, it’s that this plant despises drying out completely so do everything you can to not let that happen (but don’t drown it either…)

Do you have any Jewel Orchids? I’d love to hear your experiences so comment below!

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