Orchid Species Name: Macodes petola
Care Group: Jewel Orchids
More About Macodes petola
Macodes petola, to me, is the most coveted of all jewel orchids. Their leaves are crystalline and sparkle like gold flecks have been woven into the veins. It’s a stunning plant year-round and that’s why I had to have one. It took me over 5 years to find one available; so when I finally found a supplier (thanks J&L Orchids), I jumped at the opportunity and got two plants (just in case I killed one). The following care recommendations are according to my experience. If you know me, you know that I like bending the rules of orchid care – and my care for Macodes petola is no different.
So here’s the deal…EVERYTHING I read online harps incessantly on the need for Macodes petola and other jewel orchids (such as Ludisia discolor) to have HIGH HUMIDITY to do well. I have killed many orchids trying to stuff them into terrariums and that includes a few jewel orchids. This time I tried something different. I started by watching the forums like a hawk and when I saw growers who had specimen-sized plants, I begged for their secrets and I tried to find the secret to growing full & large jewel orchids. Funnily enough, some of the best-grown plants I found were grown indoors by Canadians!
When it comes to growing these plants, THIS IS MY GOAL:
Macodes petola Care
These are my perspectives on care after growing them in my condo near an east-facing window for a little over a year. I have found that jewel orchids grow well as a houseplant provided they are given good light but with cool temps. Their dark-green leaves may make them more susceptible to leaf burn, so use caution when trying to get them to bright enough conditions.
Also, if you’re growing Ludisia discolor (NOT Macodes petola), you may want to provide a more airy potting media as they tend to be more succulent.
Jewel Orchid Care Tips
- Humidity isn’t a big deal – it’s not. If you disagree, I don’t care; show me your Macodes petola and then show me the study where you compared growth in high and low humidity. You will see, while humidity helps slow transpiration (the rate at which water is lost through the plant’s leaves), it doesn’t affect the plant’s ability to survive (provided you keep it hydrated). Both of my plants grow in my dry climate with little issue. My humidity is often as low as 18% for many days, but as you can see they don’t appear to be suffering.
- Hydration IS a big deal – DO NOT LET THE ROOTS DRY OUT! I tested two types of media for my Macodes petola (based on recommendations from fellow Canadian growers) to help with this, but the takeaway is that dry roots or a dry plant will make it sulk, wilt, and possibly abort root tips. You want the roots evenly moist, but in a potting mix that allows for good airflow.
- Macodes petola potting media – I tested both of these and found them to be equally valuable; I liked the first option more initially, because it took longer to dry out and bought me time if it was an exceptionally hot or dry week. However, after 6 months the second media had better performance (likely because of better airflow). In the end, both potting mixes worked well and I still one pot of each media:
- Orchid Mud Mix: Peatmoss (50%) + Perlite (50%) – It’s basically tropical plant potting soil with additional perlite added to increase structure and aeration. I was skeptical, but it worked well for my plant. During the winter it may have stayed too wet for how cool my temps were (16c); this didn’t kill any roots, but overall the growth seemed slower than the other pot. That said, this plant also had a red mite infestation so the setback could be due to that and unrelated to the media.
- Classic Orchid Mix w/ more Sphag moss: Bark (20%) + Sphagnum Moss (50%) + Perlite (30%) – you want this to sit in a tray of water for at least the 3-4 months. After that period the sphagnum and bark breaks down enough that it holds water longer. If you’re finding the media is drying too quickly (within days) then I’d recommend letting the tray sit in 1/4″ of water. Again, do your best to avoid letting the moss go bone dry. Like I mentioned above, if the roots get too dry, the plant sulks and you can set it back.
- Fertilize – weakly, weekly…and use a high-nitrogen organic fertilizer in the media (about 1/8th of a tsp); I like bloodmeal or a balanced organic fert called Gia Green – all-purpose fertilizer (4-4-4). When using fertilizers in your water, I spray the leaves as I’ve heard that jewels are heavy foliar feeders (take in nutrients through their leaves).
- Light – bright filtered sun but not direct mid-day sun – keep the leaves cool. If the plant isn’t getting enough light, they get lanky. Light that works for “summer blooming phalaenopsis” seemed to be a good intensity for my Macodes petola.
Video of my newly acquired Macodes petola Jewel Orchids
Update Video One-Year Later – Macodes petola
Macodes Petola Photos