Calypso is a genus that includes a few species of terricolous orchids, more rarely epiphytes, originating in North America, Canada and in the far north of Europe. The plant is small, usually not exceeding 15-20 centimeters in diameter, and produces a single leaf per bulb, which generally dries completely in the hottest periods of the year, dark green, glossy, oval; at the beginning of spring, just at the end of winter rigors, it produces a single fragrant flower, with purplish-pink sepals and petals, and white labellum, pointed purple and sometimes striped with violet-brownish, but not in all species. These orchids tend to form clumps formed by several specimens, but it is not uncommon to find solitary plants.


Unlike many other orchids, those of the calypso species come from cold places, so they are unlikely to withstand the climatic conditions of our homes, which is why they can be grown in the open ground, or in containers to keep on the terrace. Calypso are used to undergrowth, so they don't like sunlight, preferring shady places to develop at their best. They do not fear the cold, and the leaves vegetate perfectly even under the snow; rather the calypso fears the heat, it is therefore advisable to keep it in the shade even in spring, to prevent the sun from burning the leaves before flowering.


This type of orchid needs abundant watering, which keeps the soil moist throughout the flowering period, from March to June; in other periods of the year it is good to reduce watering, especially if the soil freezes.
From the beginning of spring until June it is advisable to provide fertilizer for orchids with the water of the waterings every week.
In the case where the temperatures are quite high, it is good to proceed with the vaporization of water on the leaves to increase the rate of environmental humidity. Always check that the roots do not remain in contact with excessive amounts of water, as root rot may easily arise.


These orchids need a very well drained, soft and humus-rich soil; whether you cultivate it in the ground or whether you want to keep it in a pot, it is advisable to get some sphagnum and osmunda fiber, which must be mixed with good leaf mold, to best simulate the conditions of the natural places of growth of calypso. The ideal substrate must allow the maintenance of a right degree of humidity and, at the same time, prevent water stagnation, very harmful for orchids, from forming.


In late spring the groups of bulbs can be divided, producing new plants that are immediately planted; it is advisable to leave some roots in each portion practiced to favor rooting.
As a substrate, use the one described for adult plants. Place the new plants in a protected and sheltered environment, away from direct sunlight.

Calypso: Past and disease

If the cultivation soil is poorly drained or if the waterings are excessive, the calypso can be affected by root rot. Therefore, carefully check that you do not overdo the supply of water and that the chosen soil has characteristics appropriate to this plant.