How to Grow Schomburgkia Orchids

Schomburgkias Orchid Up-Close

maarten sepp/flickr/CC By-SA 2.0

Native to areas ranging from Mexico down to southern Brazil, Schomburgkia orchids are large plants that thrive in hot, tropical conditions. As they mature they become quite impressive in size—some of these plants grow up to 5 feet tall, bearing up to 15 flowers. They can be either epiphytic or lithophytic and predominantly flower in spring (though they can be planted year-round in the right climate). The flowers of Schomburgkia orchids will grow at a moderate pace, eventually reaching 1 to 4 inches in diameter.

Botanical Name Schomburgkia
Common Name Schomburgkia
Plant Type  Tropical
Mature Size 5–20 in. tall, 5–20 in. wide (ranges)
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Sandy and fast-draining; mounted
Soil pH Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color White, orange, pink, yellow, red
Hardiness Zones 13 (USDA)
Native Area  Mexico, South America
Toxicity  Non-toxic

Schomburgkia Orchid Care

Named after the German botanist who first collected them, Schomburgkia orchids are impressive flowers that are a good fit for tropical gardeners who can provide them with the adequate light, humidity, and space they need to thrive. Like other tropical orchids, keeping Schomburgkia orchids in humid, warm conditions is key to their long-term health. These are large growers that do well with regular feeding and will need to repotted once they’ve begun to stretch past their container. Many gardeners choose to mount them vertically instead, and they can thrive in those conditions as well.

Light

Like all tropical orchids, Schomburgkia require lots of bright light every day to thrive. Assuming you are unable to grow them outdoors, keep them somewhere in your home that boasts ample bright light, where they can get at least eight to 10 hours of sun daily. If you notice the leaves on your orchid are growing too small or losing their color, it's a good sign that they need more light.

Soil

Plant your orchid in a coarse, well-draining soil mixture (like chopped sphagnum moss or perlite), or a store-bought mixture specially formulated for orchids. You can also work in a little organic material to boost the nutritional value of your plant. Above all, make sure your soil drains quickly and very well, as orchids can quickly develop rot if left waterlogged.

Water

These orchids love moisture, so be sure to keep them evenly watered and do not allow them to dry out. Frequent watering is especially important while the plants are actively growing in the spring and summer, and you can step back your watering cadence slightly during the fall and winter.

Temperature and Humidity

True to their tropical nature, Schomburgkia orchids prefer warm temperatures, ideally around 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Though they can tolerate slightly lower temperatures during the winter months, you should never let the orchid dip below 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it comes to humidity, it's best to keep the plant as humid as possible. If growing your orchid indoors, this means keeping it in an already-humid part of your home (like a bathroom or kitchen), misting it frequently, and potentially even using a small space humidifier nearby. The plant will do best in an environment that is 75 percent to 80 percent humidity at all times.

Fertilizer

Fertilize your orchid monthly using a balanced fertilizer (like a 20-20-20 blend) for best results. If you notice your plant is not blooming sufficiently, you can increase your feeding cadence to every other week.

Propagating Schomburgkia Orchids

Schomburgkia orchids can propagate in one of two ways, either by seed or division, though division will likely be easier for typical gardeners. To divide your orchids, separate the stems at the beginning of their growing season and replant them in new containers (likewise, the stems can also be mounted on a vertical surface like a slab). Make sure to use sterile tools during this process to avoid infecting the orchids, which can be highly susceptible to infection during propagation. Keep in mind, it can take some time for these plants to root after division, so be patient and keep them in moist, warm conditions.

Repotting Schomburgkia Orchids

Schomburgkia orchids can be quite large and will require repotting if they’ve begun to outgrow their pots. Telltale signs that a plant needs repotting include wilting leaves, soil that won’t absorb water, and roots that are being pushed against the container sides (or coming out the bottom). To repot your orchid, lift the plant and root ball as a whole and place it in a larger container, backfilling the pot with fresh medium to encourage good drainage.

Common Pests/Diseases

Watch out for common orchid pests like mealybugs and scale. These kinds of insects can be wiped away using rubbing alcohol and cloth in small numbers, but if an infestation has become too widespread, a potent eco-friendly pesticide or horticultural oil like neem oil should be applied.