Pleione Culture

Pleione is a genus of terrestrial orchids that grow in temperate parts of Asia with modest heat in Summer and near-freezing conditions in Winter. Like most temperate terrestrial orchids, Pleione lose their leaves in Fall and become dormant. During dormancy the "bulbs" (pseudobulbs) should be kept at just above freezing to no more than 40 F. Bulbs should not be allowed to freeze-thaw.

Pleione in the wild tend to grow shallow-rooted in crumbly, inorganic soils. In culture they may be planted in shallow "bulb pans" or "bonsai pots" or in typical flower pots, clay, glazed ceramic, or plastic.

Here is a very attractive group of Pleione in a shallow pot.

Growing Medium

As with all orchids, potting medium is the main consideration for long term maintenance of Pleione. A typical medium is 2 parts fine orchid bark, 3 parts sphagnum moss, and one part perlite. We generally use Kelley's Korner Seedling and Phalaenopsis Mix with 50% additional sphagnum moss by volume added. Plant bulbs so that the top third of extends above the medium. If planting multipe bulbs in the same pot, space one inch apart.

Planting of Pleione pseudobulbs. Left: Pleione dormant pseudobulb. Note the growth bud for the upcoming season, growing from the bottom. Right: The pseudobulb planted in medium with one-third of the bulb extending above the medium.

Growing Season

Bulbs flower in Spring ahead of leaf and root growth. Watering should be very sparing during this time with the medium distinctly dry. As the flowers fade, water slightly more to keep the medium slightly damp. Too much water early in the season will cause the developing roots to rot. Once the roots and leaves are well- established, water heavily to mimic the Summer monsoons of their native habitat. In Autumn when the leaves start to turn yellow, reduce watering drastically and when the leaves turn brown, stop watering to let the medium go dry. While in storage over Winter, placing the pots or flats into a double plastic bag will keep the bulbs from decoming dessicated.

During the Summer growth season, one or two new bulbs will form and the bulb that flowered will shrivel. Pleiones grow well under bright shade or dappled sunlight or 50% shade cloth. Plants should be well-ventilated.


Pleiones need to be fed during the growing season. We use 1 tablespoon per gallon Dyna-Gro Grow. Any other complete fertilizer may be used.