Macodes Petola (Jewel Orchid) Plant Care Guide & Tips

The Macodes petola, also known as the lightning jewel orchid, is a species of jewel orchid that grows in the forest floor instead of clinging to branches. As such, it is a terrestrial orchid making it among the few of the variety that are not epiphytes.

Similarly, while orchids are well known for their beautiful flowers, this one is a foliage plant. Together with a few other characteristics, this means that you shouldn’t care for it like you would a normal orchid (as you’ll see the plant care section below).

Nevertheless, this is a beautiful compact plant with short, wide, dark green  leaves that are adorned with lightning bolt like pattern. Thus, its common name.

While the plant does flower, gardeners and orchid collectors are less concerned with its blooms.

The plant calls the rainforests of Southeast Asia its native home. As such, it is used to the warm temperature, humid and damp conditions. However, because its stays under the forest canopy it isn’t like other orchids that thrive on a lot of light.

Macodes Petola Plant Care

Macodes Petola Light

The macodes petola does best with moderate to bright, indirect light. It doesn’t mind low light conditions as well. But, you should avoid keeping it under direct light as long exposure to the sun’s rays will scorch it and bleach its leaves

That said, when the plant starts to become leggy or reaches for the light source, it is a sign that it is not getting enough light. So, you should move it somewhere brighter. If you happen to have a hard time finding such a place, you can use artificial lights or grow lights to supplement natural lighting.

Because of these preferences, the best place to put the plant is a north facing window. It will likewise do well facing east which receives morning sun.

However, in areas where there is a log a lot of bright, intense light, you’ll want to distance it from the windows opening. Or, keep it protected by adding a shade or cover for filter the light.

 

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Macodes Petola Temperature & Humidity

Your macodes petola does best when the temperature is kept between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it is native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia, it prefer warm climates all year round. Thus, the upper half of that range from 70 or 75 to 85 degrees is better suited for the plant.

More importantly, don’t leave it somewhere the temperature will drop under 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If it stays there for long periods of time, it will begin to struggle. It is not frost tolerant.

As such, the best place for the plant in more cases is a container. This allows you to bring it indoors during the winter or when the mercury drops under 60 degrees.

Similarly, a bathroom is likewise a good choice for the plant. That’s because it likes damp, shaded, warm temperatures. Although, you may need to monitor the temperature of your bathroom to see if it warm enough.

Because of its natural habitat, the plant is tropical in nature. Thus, it likes humid conditions. Ideally, keep the humidity between 50% and 70%.

The high level can be a challenge for many homes since the average household humidity runs between 40% to 50%. If you find yourself in this situation, you can use one of the following methods to increase humidity.

  • Group it together with other plants
  • Set it on a pebble tray
  • Use a humidifier
  • Keep it the bathroom

Due to its love for warm, humid and shaded conditions, you want to be careful with misting. Once humidity increases to 80% or higher, it keeps a lot of moisture in the air.

Thus, misting adds to that moisture which increases the risk of fungal disease and mold. It is also the reason why you’ll want to be careful with watering too much since high humidity reduces overall water requirement as well.

The reason for all of this is that lower humidity helps moisture dry faster. In contrast, humid conditions slow down drying – just think of drying your clothes in the bathroom. It takes much longer than if you did in less humid places.

And as you already know, sitting water, increases the risk of root rot, fungus and mold. All of which are detrimental to your houseplants.

 

Macodes Petola Watering

Macodes petola like damp soil. As such, your goal is to keep the soil consistently moist. This, along with high humidity can become a problem.

But, if you have to choose between the two, always prioritize soil hydration over humidity for the macodes petola. The plant can adapt to slightly lower humidity but it has a harder time doing the same for soil moisture.

That’s because it cannot tolerate wet, soggy or dry soil.

  • Soil that’s too dry will dehydrate the plant as its roots are not able to get any moisture in. This will slow down or stop growth completely depending on how little water it gets. And, if left to dry out for too long, your plant will die.
  • On the other hand, allowing the plant to stand in water increases the risk of root rot. Too much water also blocks all the creases preventing air from getting through. When this happens, the plant isn’t able to get the oxygen it needs.

As such, the best way to water your macodes petola is to always test the soil. Because the weather, humidity, sunlight, and other factors change constantly, relying on a strict water schedule isn’t ideal.

Instead, checking to keep the soil moist all the time is your main goal. You can do so by sticking your finger in the soil before you water.

This will automatically allow you to water more regularly during the warm months when the plant is actively growing. And, scale back on watering when the cold weather arrives.

Another important thing to remember is that the plant doesn’t like wet leaves. So, don’t water over the plant which will get the leaves all wet. Instead, water the soil.

 

Soil

Since your macodes petola likes moist soil, you want to provide it with potting mix that retains moisture well. That said, you also want to keep the soil light and airy to allow water and allow for oxygen to get through.

This makes a combination of the following work well.

  • Peat and pelite
  • Peat and coco coir
  • Sphagnum moss only
  • Sphagnum moss with perlite

If you don’t want to make your own potting mix recipe, you can use African violet mix. But, it is a good idea to test and see if it retains enough water to keep the soil moist enough. Because the mix is designed to drain moisture fairly well, you may need to add some peat or coco coir to improve water retention (to the liking of your macodes petola).

 

Fertilizing

Your macodes petola isn’t a heavy feeder. In fact, it prefers light but frequent feeding if possible. As such, this gives you a couple of options depending on your preference and how much extra time you have on your hands.

  • Frequent feeding schedule. If you have quite a bit of time on your hands, you can feed it on a weekly basis. But, when you do so, make sure you reduce the dose so you don’t end up overfertilizing the plant.
  • Less frequent feeding schedule. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands or are more likely to forget, then feeding once a month is a better option. Here, apply high quality liquid fertilizer diluted to half or quarter strength every 4 weeks.

Again, the plant isn’t a fast grower, nor does it need a lot of plant food. Just a little supplementation goes a long way for it.

Also, focus your feeding on spring and summertime. You don’t need to fertilize it during winter.

As a final note, since the macodes petola is a foliage plant, you don’t want to use orchid fertilizer which contain higher phosphorus levels (P). This promotes flowering which isn’t helpful for your plant.

 

Macodes Petola Pruning

As beautiful as its leaves are, they are also very delicate. As such, when handling the plant you want to be very careful as they can break off or bend fairly easily.

The good news is, you don’t need to prune your macodes petola much, especially since its leaves are its crowning glory.

However, there are a few instances where trimming is eeded.

  • To remove dead, dying or discolored leaves
  • Cut away diseased sections.
  • To control is size and shape. This will depend on the container you use and where you put the plant.
  • Stems that get leggy

When pruning, make sure to sterilize your cutting tool before using it on the plant. Use cotton and rubbing alcohol to do this.

 

Macodes Petola Propagation

There are many ways to propagate macodes petola. These include removing the offset, stem cuttings and rhizome division.

  • Remove the Offset – The macodes petola reproduces asexually. Thus, it will produce offsets that you can separate from the mother plant. Each of these offsets will grow into their own full-grown plant eventually. So you can plant them in their own containers.
  • Stem Cuttings – Here, you’ll cut off a healthy stem and plant it in fresh potting soil. Once planted, it will begin to root. Then with proper care it will start growing leaves as well.
  • Rhizome Division – With this method, you will need to find different sections of the rhizome which are producing new nodes. From there, you’ll separate that section from the mother plant and grow it in its own container.

All these methods work. However, their level of difficult is different propagating from offset being the easiest and rhizome division being the more challenging one.

 

Macodes Petola Transplanting & Repotting

The macodes petola isn’t a big fan of repotting or moving in general. Thus, you don’t want to do it too frequently. And, the real reason for doing so would be when the plant has outgrown its container.

The good new is, it isn’t overly sensitive about being rootbound. But, at some point, when the pot gets too small, the plant will stop growing. At this time, it is a good idea to repot.

However, be very careful when taking the plant out of its container. Also, be aware that it takes a while for the plant to recover from this event. As such, be prepared for possible leaf loss or wilting to happen before it begins to grow again.

That said, here’s how to repot macodes petola.

  • Carefully take the plant out of its current container
  • Inspect the plant. Here, you’re looking for root rot, which shows itself via black, brown, soggy, soft or mushy roots. Ideally, the roots should be light brown (less than tan) to white and look a bit firm.
  • Trim any root rot you find. Also brush away excess dirt while separating the roots if they are tangled up together.
  • Go up only 1 to 2 inches max. You don’t want a much larger pot because of it is susceptible to overwatering.
  • You may also want to use a wider, shallower container. This allows the plant to creep. It also reduces the depth so less water sits around.
  • Partially fill the new container with potting mix.
  • Insert the plant and backfill the remaining space with soil.
  • Water the plant and place it back in its location.

 

Toxicity

Macodes petola are not toxic to humans and animals. Thus, you can keep them anywhere in your home or garden. However, like all plants, toxic or not, it isn’t a good idea for young children or pets. They can be a choking hazard or different parts of the plant can cause digestive issues.

 

Pests and Disease

With your macodes petola, the biggest problems are related to moisture. Due to its love for damp soil and high humidity, tends to be more susceptible to root rot, bacterial and fungal problems.

As such, being vigilant about watering is important. You want to give it enough moisture for optimum growth. But, don’t want to overdo it such that the plant succumbs to foliar disease or root issues.

To add to the problem, the plant’s slow growth means it recovers slowly from any health problems as well. This causes the disease to linger far longer that it normally would other plants which results in more damage.

As such, regular monitoring is key. And, prevention is your main goal. Here are a few things that will help you do that.

  • Keep leaves dry. This is key because of high humidity. It is also why misting isn’t recommended. However, the most important thing to remember is not to wet the leaves when watering.
  • Make sure there is enough air circulation. To help leaves dry in case they get wet, allow for enough airflow. Air circulation helps dry excess moisture faster. It also allows the plant to get fresh air.
  • Don’t let the plant sit in water. Overwatering, keeping soil waterlogged, and not allowing enough drainage via the soil or the pot are all culprits here. Thus, adjust your watering routine as needed and use the right kind of soil described above.
  • Scale back on watering during the cold climates. Remember that the plant isn’t actively growing during the cold months. As such, it doesn’t need as much water. Also, cold weather reduces the rate of evaporation.
  • Inspect regularly. Regular inspection will help you spot problems early so you can adjust or treat the issue immediately. It will also show you early signs that can lead to problems. For example, checking the soil before watering lets you know if you should increase or reduce the number of days between waterings.
  • Treat root rot as soon as possible. Root rot can only be treated when found early. Here, you’ll trim the rotten parts away and repot the plant. Then, scale back on watering. But, if found later when the rot has spread, you may need to throw the plant away.

In addition to bacterial, fungal disease and root rot, you’ll also have the usual pest issues. But, nothing out of the ordinary. More importantly, these take a back seat to diseases.

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