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Old 04-05-2009, 07:44 PM
learning2letgo learning2letgo is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Zone: 8b
Location: Prattville, AL
Posts: 185
Nun's Orchid Male
Talking Nun's Orchid

I have been reading quite a lot lately about phaius tankervilleae, more commonly known as the Nun's Orchid. My favorite nursery to purchase my plants from is perhaps an hour north of where I live and they had several for sale last time I was there. Of course, I was itching to get it! HOWEVER, while perusing another, local nursery yesterday, I picked one up for ten bucks less than the other nursery was asking for it!!!

Check her out:

I just LOVE how the blooms are so varied in coloration, don't you?

Here she stands in all her glory at a considerable three and half feet tall from root ball to top spike!

Best of all, the Nun's orchid is terrestrial, whereas most orchids are epiphytic. Therefore, she can be planted directly in your garden variety potting mix and kept indoors as a houseplant or even planted outside in your garden!!! How's that for a little bang for you buck?

Take a gander inside her throat and you'll see where this orchid gets her name. Do you see the white center of the bloom? See a resemblance to a nun bowed in prayer? (So I've heard and assume.)

She has such a complex bloom. I mean think about it! Burgundy lips, brown petals (on the front) and the backside is white!!!

There are many, many variations of this wonderful specimen and for a little detailed information check out this link below:

Orchid,Orchids,Phals,Vandas,CLAN, Tropicals

I take the following as a direct quote from that site:

These plants have large plicate leaves that lend a tropical appearance to any setting. They are topped by successively flowered inflorescences held on rigidly upright stalks with flowers that are usually somewhat nodding and variable in color as well as size. The lips are usually maroon turning reddish with age, although albinic forms exist that are nearly yellow. The smaller growing plants usually have darker flowers with yellowish green backs to the sepals and petals while some of the larger growing plants have white backs.

I had orginally submitted this post referring to the Nun's Orchid as bletilla striata, but in doing further research (and a comment from kiki-do --thanks by the way), I found out that is another species altogether

Last edited by learning2letgo; 04-06-2009 at 10:52 PM.. Reason: Looking over my mistakes
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:54 PM
kiki-do kiki-do is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Zone: 4a
Location: Rumford, Maine
Posts: 2,672

That is a beauty, for sure. I've always thought the nun's orchid was called Phaius tankervilleae. This looks like the same plant. Did they change the name? Whatever it is called, I love it!
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:16 PM
learning2letgo learning2letgo is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Zone: 8b
Location: Prattville, AL
Posts: 185
Nun's Orchid Male

Kiki!!! You're absolutely right! The nursery where I purchased it is selling it as bletilla striata, so I guess I can inform them to change it And I also am going to change my post. After doing a little rereading, the bletilla striata is also for sale there, too. I need to tell them the difference.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:19 PM
beanluc beanluc is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: San Francisco, the Presidio
Age: 47
Posts: 139

Phaius and Bletilla are not synonymous, but they're both in the Calanthes alliance, so, similar.
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Old 04-05-2009, 09:19 PM
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King_of_orchid_growing:) King_of_orchid_growing:) is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Zone: 9a
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 8,696

Wow...beautiful flowers!

If I may say careful about how big the pot is and how wet the medium stays. They may be terrestrials, but in my experience with my Calanthe cardioglossa, it can be easy to damage the roots. Damaging the roots during normal growing season stunts the new growths and the developing pseudobulbs as well.

Most of all...remember it goes dormant starting mid to late fall. I put this reminder out there, because I often forget that my Calanthe goes dormant at the same time as well.

With that said, a good time to repot is during dormancy. Keeping them potbound like all the other orchids is the key to nice healthy Phauis and Calanthes.
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:37 AM
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Danie Danie is offline

Join Date: Apr 2009
Zone: 5b
Posts: 69
Nun's Orchid Female

What a beautiful orchid!....
As a beginner I need to go to a show and buy, buy, buy.....
Danie new passion
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:26 PM
MuscleGirl'sHobby MuscleGirl'sHobby is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Zone: 9b
Location: Central Cali
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That is sure a beauty! Congrats on your find.
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:58 PM
kinknstein kinknstein is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Zone: 3b
Location: Edmonton Alberta
Age: 37
Posts: 1,478

I love these too. Still trying to locate one close to me, but can't wait. Congrats on the purchase, she is a beaut!!
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learning2letgo, nun's orchid, nursery finds, phaius tankervilleae, varied bloom

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