Culture of Painted Leaf Orchids

Jewel Orchid Cultural Information by Michael Dorris

Painted Leaf Orchids is a term developed by H. Koopowitz, the former editor of the Orchid Digest (USA) and orchid breeder, to describe a large group of new world orchids with strap shaped leaves and irregular silver dots and patterns. They are often grouped with jewel orchids because of the patterns however unlike jewel orchids they tend to dormant to the point of leaf drop. They are closely related to Spiranthes and generally have that small flowered spike. So the grower must be aware of what is going on and not throw out the browning plant and not water that solo spike until the new leaves appear. Do your homework with this group. Each species differs in growing habits.
Cyclopogon lindleyanum Cyclopogon There are 54 to 75 species, mostly terrestrial, occurring in the new world tropics. Cyclopogon obliqus has become an invasive species in Hong Kong, Java, Sumatra and Sri Lanka. They are found in primary forests at elevations of sea level to 9000 ft (3000 m) and can be warm to cool growing depending on where they are from. Grown best in moist medias year around, no real dormant period. The commonly grown species are C. epiphyticus and C. lindleyanum.
Anoectochilus formosanus Pelexia Less then 10 species, all new world tropicals, related to Spiranthus broadly, much more closely related to Sarcoglottis to the point they can breed. The common specie is P. laxa, meaning soft. Found in Mexico and south to Argentina at elevations of 700 to 7000 feet (200 to 2100 m) as a medium to large sized, hot to cool growing plant, so more or less is easy growing. A fleshy foliage plant, with brittle leaves.
Sarcolexia Sea Foam Sarcoglottis A new world tropical group with about 40 species related to Spiranthus. They have very fleshy roots and tend to go dormant in winter when they bloom. Srgt. sceptrodes is a central American species seems to be the common one seen because selected clones have such nice foliage, get up to 1.5 feet (40 cm) in bloom with 10 inch (25 cm )long leaves.
Other orchid genera that have jewel orchid characteristics are:
Habenaria, deciduous terrestrials with tuberous roots, some 750 species world wide, normally green plants with green but aromatic flowers. There are a few SE Asian species like Hab. carnea and Hab. rhodocheila that have very large flowers for the plant size and patterned foliage but like the painted leaf orchids, they go dormant.
Malaxis is a huge genera with some 300 species found world wide, sub-arctic to lowland tropics, small terrestrials, begging to be divided. Tiny flowered as a rule. Mal. calophylla is one of the better ones, found from Assam India to Borneo, reddish brown leaves with a white bands. Mal. metallica, is a living purple jewel, a bit transparent, grows in Borneo and Malaysia, lowland tropical.
Oeceoclades has about 30 species mostly found in Africa and Madagascar. Oeceoclades maculata has escaped from cultivation in Florida, where it is regarded as a weed, south to Argentina and east into the West Indies. The genus has a pseudobulb with a single, flat, often textured, colored patterned leaves and reasonable flowers, rare, interesting.