August 8, 2010

Neofinetia falcata the Samurai Orchid


I know, a very quiet blog this week... I was on vacation (at a family reunion at a nice, mid-century mod remote home in the quiet, dunes and pine forests of Wellfleet on the tip of Cape Cod), so I had excuses. Deep in those dunes of Newcomb Hollow it seems cell and mobile access is 'iffy at best, which was OK with me, since the unwired environment gave me permission to do other things, like  bond with my siblings, and to surf, swim and eat oysters.
I know, I'm not talking about the Neofinetia yet, but I'm, stalling since I have one more vacation day, and need to reregister Adobe Photoshop on this computer, consider a new design layout using Blogger's new system, and design a new header. I've been searching for the ultimate design, where I could possibly have advertising, as well as offer a brighter, easier to read page. Hopefully, this will be it!

Upon arriving home from the Cape Cod, I discovered that the Neofinetia falcata, a highly treasured and collectable miniature orchid in Japan, was blooming. This is such an easy little orchid to please, especially if you can provide the cold winter conditions, which it loves. If you grow winter growing bulbs under cold glass, do try this orchid. It likes the cool greenhouse and it can even freeze a little bit if kept near the cold glass, which it prefers.  In its native environment on the outer islands of Japan, it often gets winter temperatures near freezing, but the key is to keep it dry during the winter months. 

They plants grow on a sphere of sphagnum moss, which is shaped and tied into a little ball, the size of a baseball, but hollow underneath. This sphere, is then wrapped with a little nylon thread, since it is difficult to obtain the long, New Zealand sphagnum which is typically used in Japan. If you form the sphere over a tomato stake, and then remove it after tightening the thread, the ball will automatically have a hole underneath. Traditionally, these orchids are grown on these balls of sphagnum, which are then positioned in specially designed Neofinetia pots, some of which have a bulge underneath where you could set the sphagnum sphere upon it. In Japan, some of these handmade pots are extrememely expensive, as are some choice plants, but I have also brought back inexpensive black plastic Neofinetia pots.

So, where you you buy these pots and plants? Aside from hopping on an 18 hour flight to Tokyo, you can try eBay, or a few collectors who sell them. In the USA, try New World Orchids. Or try some of the many videos on YouTube explaining how to form the mounds of Sphagnum on which collectors grow these special orchids on. Try this one.
Screen capture from a growers YouTube video on repotting a Neofinetia in the traditional Japanese method.

In the summer, they get moved outside, where they will quickly form flower buds.  My plants bloom every year during July and August, which is also the time when I fertilize them weakly/weekly, with rainwater and a diluted mixture of pigeon poop and 5-5-5. These little treasures will reward you with the most sweetly scented flowers which smell like vanilla cotton candy to me. 


  1. I have heard from a couple of sources that this one can take freezing... do you know if this is true? Great photo btw. The leaves remind me of the florida native encyclia tampensis.

  2. Glad that you had such a nice trip and that you've come home to magnificent Neofinetia and Nerine blooms!

    My favourite orchids since I began at age 11 have been Neofinetia and Angraecoids. Neos smell heavenly! This year I had the best blooming ever: http://www.flickr.com/photos/morabeza79/4725692751/

    Congratulations on getting your Nerine falcata to bloom a second year in a row! This is terrific! I have some seedling from seed I sowed in 2006, I am hoping to be able to bloom them next year, fingers crossed.

  3. The new design seems more intuitive than the old one. I like these orchids grown on the balls of sphagnum.


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