The jewel orchid (also called the tiger orchid and golden lace orchid) is an easy plant to grow. Yes, an orchid that is easy to grow -in potting medium, no less. There are many orchids that are easy to take care of, but orchids have received a reputation as being hard or even impossible to grow. I will admit, there are many that need specialized conditions to thrive, but not this orchid. Let’s take a closer look at the beautiful jewel orchid.

Ludisia discolor

The foliage of the jewel orchid is amazing!

The Jewel Orchid

The botanical name is Ludisia discolor (formerly Haemaria discolor) and it is a terrestrial orchid, unlike most orchids that are epiphytic, meaning they grow attached to either other plants or other objects. It is found naturally in Southeast Asia, India, and Southern China where it thrives in humid tropical forests and because it lives on the forest floor, it doesn’t need full, direct sun to flower. Mine resides in my east window and reliably blooms every winter and is blooming right now.

Foliage

The foliage is the star of this orchid show, with its pink stripes and iridescent shimmer. It seems as if a fairy has sprinkled iridescent dust over the leaves. There are other types of jewel orchids, so search for those as well. The dark burgundy leaves have pink pinstripes running through them and they do shimmer. 

Ludisia discolor plant

My Ludisia discolor or jewel orchid

Care

The great thing about this orchid is it can be grown in the potting medium you use for most of your other houseplants, but I do add extra vermiculite and perlite to any commercial potting medium I use. The jewel orchid needs good drainage but wants to stay moist. If you allow it to dry out, the bottom leaves will turn purplish and then brown and will need to be removed.  This will make for a leggy stem with leaves only on the ends. The stems are also brittle so they are easily broken, but no problem if that happens. You can easily root those stems in water or just plant them in a moist potting medium.

Light

I grow mine close to an east window and it blooms reliably every year. A couple of years ago, I moved it about five feet from the window and it didn’t bloom, so I moved it back closer to the window. It is about 2 feet from the window now and is blooming like crazy. A west window would also work and possibly a north window if it were unobstructed and bright. It could also be grown under grow lights. Just remember to move your plant from under the lights when it begins to bloom as the inflorescence rises up above the foliage and may hit the lights. 

Propagation

The plant below began as two cuttings I started in water. I like starting them in water because they have the coolest roots. I can’t find a picture of them, but I’m sure I have one somewhere. When I find it, I will add it to this post. The roots look like cream-colored feathers. After the roots are started, I plant them in a regular potting medium. 

jewel orchid

I started these two cuttings in water and moved to potting medium

Flowers

The flowers may not be as spectacular as some orchids, but remember the foliage is the star when it comes to this plant. Yet, in the dead of winter, the delicate, white flowers are beautiful and a welcome respite from the dreary outside climate. They rise up from the tips of the stems about 1 foot to 18 inches and last a few weeks. 

 

 

Ludisia flowers

The flowers of the jewel orchid are delicate

 

I hope you find this helpful and try growing a jewel orchid. It really is easy to cultivate and with the right light and care will reward you with these spires of white flowers in the dead of winter. 

 

Have a great week, plant friends!

 

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