Tuesday 24 January 2023

Oeceoclades lonchophylla


Oeceoclades lonchophylla

Distribution and habitat

Oeceoclades lonchophylla is a terrestrial orchid species found growing in deep shade in leaf litter in coastal forest in  northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, Eswatini, Mozambique, Tanzania and the Comoros islands.

Oeceoclades lonchophylla that I have seen in the wild have all been growing in relatively dry coastal forest on deep alluvial sands, where they were found growing in leaf litter in association with Sansevieria concinna and Scadoxus membranaceus both of which have leaves that are very similar in appearance making it hard to spot them growing together with these plants. Other plants growing together with Oeceoclades lonchophylla have been Scadoxus multiflorus, Scadoxus punicious and Microsorum scolopendrium.


The Oeceoclades lonchophylla look and feel as if they are made of plastic.

The shiny leave blades of Oeceoclades lonchophylla are very thin being only 0.7mm, they are see through, a dull green colour with cross hatching with a darker green along the length of the parallel venation. The averaging length of the blade being 130 – 140 mm and between 50 – 55 wide, with petioles averaging 200mm in lenght.

The pseudobulbs are conical 30 – 40 mm long and 15 mm at the base, they are same dull dark green as the petioles and leaves.

The inflorescence which is 3.4 – 4 mm in diameter is between 500 – 600 mm long carrying between 

50 – 65 individual blooms is produced in December and January has a fairly long flowering time.


Annually in early summer Oeceoclades lonchophylla produces a new leaf, the inflorescence following shortly thereafter. Healthy plants will occasionally create a new additional lead.

In cultivation I have found that Oeceoclades lonchophylla grows well indoors under relatively low light conditions 250 – 350 lux in a loose sandy very well drained growing medium with a little added coarse compost and partly decomposed twigs and bark. I ensure good air movement at all times from open widows in the cooler months of the year and the additional use of a fan in the hot humid summer months. The relative humidity varies from around 55 percent in the winter up to 95 in the summer the average being around 75 percent.

Watering and feeding.

I ensure that the roots remain moist throughout the year increasing the amount of watering during the period of active growth, however I am careful not to over water them or allow the growing medium to become waterlogged. To prevent waterlogging and to increase gas exchange in the root zone it is advisable to have spacers under the pots to allow for free drainage and for air to enter the pots from below.

I feed frequently at very low concentrations usually one quarter or less than the recommended application rate with a variety of feeds, being EasyGro™ Flower and Fruit 3:1:6(46) hydroponic feed distributed by  Rolfes Agri, Seagro, Nitrosol, fulvic acid as well as with both black as well as rooibos tea.

Periodically I flush out the pots with clean tap water to remove any buildup of salts or other harmful substances of decay in the growing medium.

General care

The leaves are cleaned with water and a cloth from time to time to remove dust and other contaminants.

The leaves get a very light misting most mornings with tap water in the winter months I use warm water of about 40 degrees Celsius.

I lightly sprinkle the growing medium with a granular systemic neonicotinoid insecticide as a preventative measure against insect pests in particular those that attack the roots and the bases of the pseudobulbs that usually go unnoticed until the plant shows advanced signs of damage.

Article written by Michael Hickman 24.01.2023



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