The genus Caladenia brings together about one hundred species of terricolous orchids originating in Australia and New Zealand.
They have large stole roots, from which a long, fleshy, often slightly pubescent, dark-colored leaf emerges; in spring-summer they produce long reddish stems, 15-20 cm high, at the apex of which large solitary flowers bloom, or in pairs, white, pink, yellow or greenish in color, with a large labellum, usually spotted with red or brown; the petals have characteristic very long periants, sometimes colored purple.
They prefer very bright locations, but not directly exposed to sunlight during the hottest hours of the day; in the warm months of the year they can be placed outside, in a sheltered but ventilated place, where the plant can enjoy plenty of light and a few hours of direct sunlight in the late afternoon hours. The caladenie fear the cold, with the lowering of the temperature the leaves turn yellow and dry, it is advisable to keep the pot in place with temperatures above zero, to prevent the plant from freezing; it is advisable to place the Caladenia jar outside in the early spring, because the cold and rains stimulate the growth of the new leaf and the subsequent flowering.
In the vegetative period the caladenie need abundant quantities of water, it is advisable to always keep the soil slightly damp; when the leaves begin to dry, suspend the watering, letting the plant go into vegetative rest.
In the hottest periods it is advisable to vaporize with demineralised water on the leaves, so as to guarantee the correct degree of humidity.
From March to September, add fertilizer for orchids to the irrigating water every 15-20 days.
These orchids need a loose, sandy and well-drained soil; use good balanced soil mixed with sand and leaf mold, taking care to place expanded clay or perlite on the bottom of the vase to increase drainage, as the orchids do not support water stagnation that can quickly cause radical rot .
The plant should be repotted when the roots have occupied the whole pot and, to avoid ruining the rather fragile roots, it is good to wet the soil before proceeding with the operation.
The reproduction of Caladenia occurs by division of the rhizomes and is practiced in spring, at the end of winter, before the plant awakens from the rest of the cold months; new plants should be immediately repotted in a single container and cultivated like other plants.
Caladenia: Pests and diseases
These orchids do not fear attack by pests very much; it is not infrequent that they are affected by root rot, which occurs easily if the soil is not sufficiently draining and stagnant water forms.
These plants can also be affected by the cochineal that is deposited on the leaves; to eliminate the problem it is possible to intervene manually with the use of a cotton swab or a cloth with alcohol to pass on the leaves to detach the parasites. If possible avoid using chemicals that could harm the health of the plant.