Cultural tips for Bulbophyllum

Most Bulbophyllums, including the Cirrhopetalum, are easier to grow mounted and to us present a more natural appearance. Most are rambling growers and resent being disturbed; however, they do not seem to mind an occasional clipping of a few unruly leads to keep them neat.

In growing most Bulbophyllums, we have found sphagnum moss pads mounted on the backside of cork slabs to be an excellent growing method. The recurved shape of the cork retains more moisture in the moss pad, which the Bulbophyllums love. We have found the easiest method is to tie the plant with 6 lb. test nylon fishing line. There are almost as many ways of mounting Bulbophyllums, as there are Bulbophyllums.

After the plant has recovered from its self-imposed pout and the new roots have gained a foothold, the nearly invisible fishing line can be removed. The fishing line does not seem to injure the Bulbophyllums, and is usually left in place. Other mounting materials are wood slabs, driftwood, cactus wood, tree fern plaques, tree fern, tree fern totems, and tree fern balls. Wood baskets with sphagnum moss are a close second choice.

If a potted Bulbophyllum is your choice, they will enjoy any loose well-drained media. The bulk of Bulbophyllums have numerous short roots which do not penetrate the media deeply, so shallow media is a must to avoid root rots.

In our experience most Bulbophyllums are in continual growth, except for a brief rest in the cool of the winter. They usually bloom on the matured new growth. If there were a peak bloom period it would probably be spring and early autumn.

The majority of Bulbophyllums are comfortable in a temperature range of 7 deg C to 35 deg C. Some of the higher elevation Bulbophyllums, such as those from the Himalayas and New Guinea mountains prefer cool temperatures for part of the year and can be a little difficult in warmer areas.

Preferred light conditions are bright shade. If adjusted slowly, full morning sun up to noon is enjoyed by most Bulbophyllums. If you can comfortably read a newspaper without squinting or straining to see then you have the right light.

Bulbophyllums prefer to be evenly moist, except a slight drying in the winter. During growth period, the Bulbophyllums should be given heavy watering, so they are never dry.
Because of the wet conditions loved by the Bulbophyllums, fungus can be a problem. A monthly preventative spray of your favorite fungicide is desirable to ward off problems.

Good air movement is a must to keep leaf fungus down, because of the heavy watering regime.

Fertilization is simple - Bulbophyllums love to eat, 1/4 strength at each watering is sure to keep them happy. We have found organic fertilizers, such as fish emulsion, cow manure teas are enjoyed as well as salt-based fertilizers. If you use the salt-based fertilizers ensure no salt residue are left in the roots. Always flush, with clear water, monthly to protect the short tender roots from fertilizer burn.

While not insect resistant, Bulbophyllums seem to rarely be bothered by insects other than an occasional scale or mealy bug infestation, which can be easily handled by a 70% isopropyl alcohol and soap drench, or your favorite insecticide.

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