One difference of jewel orchids from all other indoor grown orchids is that jewel orchids, in fact, are prized for their precious, highly decorate leaves, not for their rather pale, tiny and not showy flowers. Another difference is that they are terrestrial orchids (in nature they dwell on forest floor), which means that their potting media should be different from epiphytic orchids potting media, and should contain components with a rather big water capacity – such as sphagnum, some peat moss, cocoa fibers and chips, potting soil, some sand and so on. Jewel orchids belong to Goodyerinae subtribe, which means that they are closely related to common European orchid Goodyera repens, also known as creeping lady’s-tresses in Europe and dwarf rattlesnake plantain or lesser rattlesnake plantain in USA and Canada.
The most common jewel orchids for sale are Ludisia discolor (aka Haemaria dawsoniana), which comes in different cultivars – standard is red-veined dawsoniana variety (aka ‘Red Velvet’), bright-green white-veines alba variety (aka ‘Green velvet’), dark-leaved with lesser veins and scented flowers ‘Nigrescens’ variety (aka ‘Black velvet’) and rather rare and seen by some as intergeneric hybrid with Anoectochilus species ‘Thanlania’ with complex pattern of more veins which are bright and showy (aka ‘Super veination’).
Ludisia discolor is rather easy to grow – as it will tolerate both insufficient watering and overwatering. It should be grown potted in a potting mixture, which contains some fine bark, sphagnum, peat moss, perlite, and some plant debris, but many grow it even in Saintpaulia potting soil well, which means that this plant is rather easy to grow. It’s funny, but at its homeland in India, Ludisia orchids are often seen on scrap yards and grow among the junk. Light requirements are also low – it even can tolerate shade, but if you want bright, showy leaves, you should provide it with more light – medium to low light is ideal for Ludisia orchids. And if you fertilize it with special orchid fertilizer, it would thrive! What’s about flowering, some cut the inflorescences because flowering can weaken the plant and make leaves dull.
Anoectochilus species is the other thing – they require more care than common Jewel orchid Ludisia, and Anoectochilus can even die if insufficient care is provided. First, you should make sure that proper potting media is provided, no soil, only special Jewel orchids mixture, which mimics forest floor – it should contain fine bark, sphagnum, peat moss, perlite, and some plant debris. Overwatering, as well as insufficient watering, can kill a tender Anoectochilus orchid, you should meet the watering regimen. Anoectochilus requires humid air, which means that the best way to grow it is growing in a terrarium. Anoectochilus requires more light than Ludisia, but direct sunlight can burn its leaves. Also in winter, you should reduce both watering and temperature if you could not provide sufficient light to Anoectochilus orchids. Fertilize it weekly (at summer) or monthly (at winter) with a balanced fertilizer.
Macodes is one of the showiest jewel orchids. Round shaped, bright leaves of Macodes petola resemble a night sky with lightening – its veins glow with bright green on dark leaves. What’s about its care – it is intermediate between tender Anoectochilus and rather unassuming Ludisia. It can be effectively grown both on a windowsill and in a terrarium, but terrarium-grown Macodes plants bear more bright and colorful leaves. A potting mixture is analogous to Anoectochilus, what’s about watering – it tolerates more dry conditions than Anoectochilus. If you provide it with fertilizer, the plant will thrive and you can enjoy its vivid foliage.
Dossinia marmorata is one of the most beautiful Jewel orchids, and this is one of the most difficult Jewel orchids to grow. It leaves resemble ones of Macodes, but veins pattern is more complex, and there are more colors in it. It should be grown in a terrarium or tropical vivarium because it doesn’t tolerate dry air. You should provide it with some air circulation and air movement, as it prone to rotting, especially if standing water is present on its showy leaves. You can use both Jewel orchid mixture and pure sphagnum as a substrate, assuming a fact that in nature beautiful Dossinia grows on limestone media. The plant is prone to rotting, so don’t overwater it, but cover with moss and leaf debris, it is useful to add limestone to potting. Underwatering also weakens the plant and it can die because it doesn’t have rather succulent stems as Ludisia to keep some water.
What’s about indoor temperate conditions for Goodyera jewel orchids? There is some information that people grow it indoors. Goodyera repens bears showy bright-green leaves with white to yellow venation. It is rather difficult to grow indoors, assuming the fact that it is a temperate climate orchid which requires dormancy and mycorrhiza to thrive. And this is protected species, so you cannot just go to a forest and take it to home, so it is a better idea to keep the plant in nature, besides it is an endangered species.