Jewel Orchid (Ludisia Discolor) Plant Care

Jewel Orchid

The jewel orchid (Ludisia discolor) can be described as an orchid antithesis. That’s because its ideal living conditions are quite the opposite of most orchid plants. As such, it would be a mistake to care for it the same way your would those.

Instead of being an epiphyte, which more orchids are, the jewel orchid is a terrestrial plant. As such, it needs soil to grow. Similarly, it doesn’t light a lot of light but thrives in shade and slightly dimmer conditions.

And while orchids are well know for their beautiful flowers, this one is a foliage plant.

That said, this is a lovely houseplant nevertheless. Its unique red and green velvety leaves are uniquely beautiful. And, it is easy to care for indoors.

Jewel Orchid Plant Care

Jewel Orchid Light

Jewel orchids don’t need a lot of light. In fact, they can survive in low light conditions without any problem. That said, they do best in low to medium light settings.

In their native habitat, jewel orchids are terrestrial plants. As such, they grow on the grown in the forest. Because of their size, they are covered by large trees, their leaves and branches. As such, they don’t get a lot of sunlight.

Giving them similar lighting conditions will help them grow optimally.

Just as importantly, the worst thing you can do it place them under direct sunlight. Giving them bright light is unhealthy for them and will damage them. And, direct exposure to the sun’s rays will burn them.

When this happens, you’ll see their leaves become bleached.

Thus, the best place to put this plant is in a north facing window where there isn’t a lot of light. Similarly, you can leave in the middle of a room away from the windows. It will be perfectly happy under fluorescent lights.

An east facing window likewise works because the sun is gentle in the morning. However, in the south or west, you will need to put something between the sun and the plant to filter the light significantly.

 

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Jewel Orchid Temperature & Humidity

Jewel orchids are used to tropical forest conditions. As such, they like warm, humid environments to thrive. Ideally, you want to keep them where the temperature is steady in the range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They do prefer the higher end of the range during daytime and the lower end of the range at night.

Because they are not frost tolerant, it is important to avoid areas where the temperature is below 50 degrees. This means that if you live in a region where the winters get cold, you’ll want to take them indoors if you keep them outside.

Similarly, they do like cold drafts of any sort. Thus, it is a good idea to keep them away from open windows or doors where cool breezes can enter. Air conditioning and other vents are likewise no-no’s.

The other climate condition to consider is humidity. Jewel orchids need at least moderate humidity. But, they prefer more humid areas to grow optimally.

Combine this with the fact that they light low light conditions, it makes your bathroom the best place to keep these beautiful houseplants.

jewel orchid ludisia discolor

source: wikimedia commons

 

Jewel Orchid Watering

Your jewel orchid likes moisture. More importantly, don’t allow the soil to dry out. If you do, its bottom foliage will turn red. And, if you keep repeating this cycle, it will eventually kill the plant.

As such the best way to water it is to allow the surface of the soil to dry out. Then, water. You don’t want to wait much more than that. This lets you keep the potting mix moist enough to keep it happy.

That said, you still want to be careful with overwatering. Waterlogging and allowing the plant to sit in water for long periods of time will lead to root rot, just as with any other houseplant.

In the winter, scale back on water as its growth slows down.

 

Related: Why Is My Orchid Stem Turning Yellow?

 

Jewel Orchid Soil

Unlike other orchids which are epiphytes, your jewel orchid is a terrestrial plant. This means it needs soil to survive. Just as importantly, if you want it to thrive, you’ll want to follow specific parameters as well.

The most important thing to remember with its soil is to use one that drains moisture well. This prevents its roots from rotting due to wet feet.

The easiest way to achieve this is to use an African violet mix. Similarly, you can use a high quality orchid potting mix as well. Either one will do a god job in providing the plant with what it needs.

Don’t make the mistake of using bark mix as you would other orchids. If you do, it will be difficult to maintain the kind of moisture it needs.

If you prefer on making your own mix, you can use perlite or pumice to improve drainage along with peat moss.

 

Fertilizing

Feed your jewel orchid with balanced fertilizer dilute to half strength once a month. You can likewise use orchid food. Both work well for the plant.

From there, adjust as needed. If your plant isn’t growing as it should, then increase the dosage a little bit at a time until you get ideal results.

As with water, you do not want to be aggressive with fertilizer. In fact, it is better to err on the side of caution and increase slowly. That’s because fertilizer residue buildup can damage the plant.

In the winter when the plant takes a breather from growing, you don’t need to feed it.

 

Pruning

Much of the pruning you’ll be doing to your jewel orchid is removing dead, dying, discolored and diseased leaves.

However, at times, you may want to trim it for aesthetic purposes as well to keep it looking neat and tidy.

That said, you always want to use a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. Dull blades will make poor, blunt cuts where you have to snip many times. When you do this, it increases the trauma and shock experienced by the plant.

And, the more shock is goes through, the weaker it gets which will affect its health, growth and resistance to pests and diseases.

Speaking of which, you also want to sterilize the blade before any pruning session. This ensures that the plant won’t get any bacterial or fungal disease from it.

 

Propagation

Jewel orchids are easy to propagate. The best way to do so is via stem cutting or division.

 

How to Propagate Jewel Orchid from Stem Cuttings

The plant’s stems are fairly brittle. So, it is easy for them to break. When this happens, you can plant the stems on their own. Similarly, you can cut off the stems. This lets you choose which one you want to propagate.

Once you have the stem cutting, plant it in fresh potting mix. From here you want to care for it just as you do the mother plant.

Often, with stem cuttings, propagating in water is the fastest way to root it. However, in the case of the jewel orchid, you don’t want to do that because it is likely to experience root rot before it grows in water.

 

How to Propagate Jewel Orchid via Division

Here, all you need to do is take a piece of the rhizome and plant it in a container of its own with fresh potting mix.

However, you do need to take the mother plant out of its pot first. While this gives you a chance to give it fresh potting mix, it also takes more work compared to propagating via stem cuttings.

 

Transplanting & Repotting

On average, be prepared to repot your jewel orchid once a year. The biggest reason for moving it to larger container is when the plant gets pot bound.

When this happens, you’ll notice that it will grow much slower than it normally does. In some cases, it will also drop some leaves, especially the more root bound it gets.

But, the one sure sign that it needs a larger container is when you see its roots start coming out from the soil. This tells you that the pot is getting too crowded. And, as a result, it is stressing out the plant.

How to Repot Jewel Orchid

  • Take it out of its current container. Be careful when you do this because you don’t want to damage the plant. Similarly, the more jarring there is, they more trauma and shock it will experience.
  • If it has been pot bound for a while, it can be hard to slide the root ball out of the container. Should this happen, water the soil. This will make it softer and easier to take out.
  • Fill new (larger) container with well draining potting mix. You can use African violet mix from the store.
  • Insert the plant into the new pot and backfill with fresh potting soil. Don’t pack the soil too much since compacting it will make it harder for water and air to enter and exit.
  • Water the soil are you normally would and place the plant back into its position.

 

Toxicity

Most orchids are toxic to pets and people. But, that isn’t the case for the jewel orchid. This one is safe. So, you can keep it anywhere in the home as long as your kids and pets don’t ingest it.

While not poisonous, different parts of the plant can still be choking hazards or cause digestive issues.

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