How to Grow: Bulbophyllum Orchid Care

Updated: Feb 5

General Information

The genus Bulbophyllum is the largest one in the entire orchid family Orchidaceae and currently contains over 1800 orchid species, and new species are constantly being described and added to this vast genus. It is currently one of the largest genera in the entire plant kingdom, only Euphorbia and Senecio contain more species. In the floral trade, Bulbophyllum is abbreviated Bulb.

Bulbophyllum orchid was named refers to the leaf shape. The plants from this genus are native to Australia, South-east Asia, Africa and South America with the greatest diversity found in Papua New Guinea. They are found from the high and low altitude in rain and cloud forests of most tropical and subtropical countries. They have tremendous variation in their growth habit, ranging from fully terrestrial species to giant epiphytic climbers. They can bloom directly from the rhizome or the growth, depending on the species.

General information should only be used as a guide, and should be to be adapted to suit you. Your physical location; where you grow your plants, how much time you have to devote to their care, and many other factors, will need to be taken into account. Only then can you decide on the cultural methods that best suit you and your plants.

Light Requirements

It is hard to provide any specific recommendations since Bulbophyllum orchids are found in such a myriad of different environments. If you are unable to find species specific guidelines you can assume that the wider the leaves are, the less light demanding will the plant be.

Bulbophyllum Orchids usually need intermediate light which is less than Cattleyas but more than Phalaenopsis. Higher light, that does not damage the leaves, seems to result in better and more frequent blooming. They can be grown indoors providing they receive good light.

Temperature Requirements

They are regarded as warm to intermediate growers. Most require warm temperatures from 21-27°C but will be comfortable in a temperature range of 7 to 35°C. They will not tolerate frosts. They need a temperature drop of about 6-8°C at night for flowering. Those that originate in high altitude areas of Papua New Guinea prefer lower temperatures and may not be suited to hotter climates. The minimum temperature for the tropical forms is considered to be 10°C and 15°C for equatorial species.

“ Know the Origin of Your Species before setting Temperature”

Water Requirements

Also, as mentioned above, it is impossible to provide any guidelines that will be true for all Bulbophyllum species. Many of them are however used to rainy environments and need a lot of water. If you keep one of these species potted, you can water your Bulbophyllum orchid every 3-4 day and allow only a slight drying out between each watering. If you keep the orchids mounted, you can water them twice a day. If a new leaf is smaller than the old one, your Bulbophyllum orchids needs more watering.

Generally, these orchids need to have ample water supply when the plants are in active growth, and a drought of even a couple of days is enough to kill the new growths and set back the plant. Due to their shallow fine root system they need to have constant moisture around their roots, however depending on their origin, some need a distinct wet and dry period to flower. The potting mix should never be allowed to dry out completely. They can be kept slightly drier in winter.

Humidity Requirements