Phragmipedium kovachii – Care & Culture

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Species Name: Phragmipedium kovachii

Subgenus: Phragmipedium | Section: Schluckebieria
Related Species: besseae, fischeri, schlimii, manzurii
Care Group:
 See Phragmipedium Care
Origin: Peru, South America
Elevation: 1,600-1,950 (Highland / Cool Grower)
Temperature Averages: 18C (winter) | 26C (summer)
Annual Temp Range: 10C (lowest) | 34C (highest)



“Found on the Northern side of the sub-Andean basin, in the Peruvian regions of Amazonas and San Martin, at elevations of 1,600–1,950m in tropical cloud forests. Found growing in valleys running east-west on cliffs facing south, the plants receive cloud-filtered sunlight from noon until sunset.”  —Glenn Decker, AOS Phrag kovachii species culture sheet.

Phrag kovachii Care – Quick Tips

  • Potting Mix: course, water-retentive, but well-oxygenated. I use 50% pumice to bark, sphagnum & charcoal.
  • Water: keep roots moist – they don’t like drying out. I let the plant sit in 1/4-1/2″ of water most of the year (but especially after repotting). Weekly watering still happens and I will flush at least a full pot of water through the pot and roots.
  • Nutrients & pH: they come from alkaline areas of Peru, so Calcium is a must. You can supplement this by adding limestone, granite, or eggshells in the potting media—in acidic conditions, those materials will release calcium. I acidify my water to 5.8-6.5 when feeding w/ fertilizer and flush my pots with tap water (7.9pH). I supplement calcium by dissolving a small amount of eggshell into vinegar and then dilute that solution into water about once a month.
  • Nutrients Part 2: these plants grow fast and are large/robust with lots of leaves and roots – to support this growth, they need good fertilizer, but that doesn’t mean lots of synthetic fertilizer. I use organic fertilizer at about 1/4 tsp per pot two times per year – this includes a mix of bloodmeal, bat guano, and greensand (rock dust). The plants also get 1/4 strength MSU fert once a week.
  • Light: They need moderately-bright light but are stressed by high temps over 24c/75f. LEDs work well to deliver consistent amounts of light without causing heat-related burn.
  • Temperature: The general rage is noted above in this post, the only thing I will add is that during heat waves in the summer (when our temperatures indoors reach 30c), the plant suffers – often getting chlorotic yellowing in tessellated patterns. I would avoid growing them too warm if you want to succeed with this plant – but if you’ve had success growing them over 30C, please let me know so I can provide that info to others.
  • Flowering: happens in the winter – there are reports it can flower year-round. Watching the groups and forums online though, there is a large influx of kovachii posts from mid December to mid January. This may mean that a reduction in temperature is required to initiate the flowering cycle. Friends have also told me that this plant is prone to bud blast (especially when flowering in the summer) and I suspect that is related to high temperatures (similar to many cool-spiking phalaenopsis which can bud-blast when temperatures exceed 30C).


Phrag kovachii Care – Video

General Phragmipedium Care & Culture – Video

Photos of my Phrag kovachii


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Phrag kovachii – the largest flower within the phragmipedium alliance. Purchased this plant as “Phrag Fritz Schomburg” and I’ve been exploding with excitement seeing the flower open up – realizing I had the species kovachii and not a hybrid (Happy Xmas to me). The flowers will continue to expand/enlarge over the next few days—they’re currently 12cm petal to petal but can achieve over 20cm edge to edge…it’ll take a few more years to get a plant that’s big enough to produce flowers like that. Yayyyyyy!!! • • • • • #phragmipedium #phragmipediumkovachii #phragkovachii #slipperorchid #yycplants #foothillsorchidsociety #plantgang #indoorplants #green #houseplantclub #plantlover #ihavethisthingwithplants #plantnerd #plantlife #houseplantsofinstagram #houseofplants #urbanjungle #southamerican #orchidsofinstagram

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