Sarcochilus Orchids Growing Guide

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Sarcochilus Orchids

A genus of about 12 orchid species usually found on the great dividing range of Eastern and Eastern Australia. Most species are usually found in lush wet temperate rainforests growing epiphytically on moss covered trees and shrubs

4 Species grow as lithophytes (Rock faces). The name Sarcochilus means ‘Fleshy lip’ in Greek. Cultivation is simple, but different to the Australian Dendrobiums. Sarcochilus prefer lower light levels and moister conditions to the Dendrobiums. Cooler conditions are also appreciated especially in the summer months.

A suitable place to grow your Sarcs is under the bench below the Dendrobiums. The best growers always have a dedicated Sarc House in which to grow these orchids. Within the genus there are variations in culture.
Hybrids using the species ceciliae will grow under and appreciate higher light and temperature levels as they have a red  staining in the foliage which is usually an indicator of being more light tolerant.

The twig epiphytes (such as olivaceous) on the other hand prefer it darker and lusher. Many growers add river pebbles to their composts to keep the pot temperature lower in summer.  In winter plenty of air movement is needed to alleviate bacterial and fungal diseases. It is quite difficult to keep the foliage and blooms spot free with good air movement.

An occasional feeding of Peters Excel Hi K at 1 gram per litre is fine and maybe a few Osmocote Plus pellets in the spring. Repotting is usually carried out after blooming or in the early autumn when the worst of the heat has finished.

A bark based mix with addition of pebbles and a little hardwood charcoal is fine. Certain species will only grow  mounted, so do a little homework before buying some of the more obscure hybrids and species. Sarcochilus hartmannii is always the best to start with as it is the most tolerant. Remember to snail bait in the late spring as the racemes appear as they are very attractive to slugs and snails.

The range of temperature suited for Sarcs is 2 °c to 36 °c, with 10-32 °c being optimal.

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