Craving Calanthes

Calanthe is a genus of 235 species of terrestrial orchids. For us, the foliage remains evergreen through the winter, unless the winter temperatures are severe. We are still testing to find how many species are winter hardy here in Zone 7b. We have so enjoyed their amazing show over the last few weeks. Here are a few highlights from the garden.

Calanthe discolor (China, Japan, Korea) is always a great performer. We’ve divided our clump many times to create a larger patch. A well-drained shade garden is the perfect home.

Calanthe discolor ‘Eco White’

The Kojima calanthes are four-way hybrids, between Calanthe discolor, Calanthe sieboldii, Calanthe aristulifera, and Calanthe tricarinata. With that much diversity in the parentage, the flower color is all over the proverbial map.  

Calanthe ‘Kojima Red’
Calanthe ‘Kojima Violet’

The Calanthe ‘Kozu Spice’ hybrids are crosses between Calanthe discolor x Calanthe izu-insularis.

Calanthe ‘Kozu Spice’

Calanthe ‘Orange Explosion’ is our selection of a JLBG seedling that appeared here in the garden. It’s from the Calanthe ‘Takane’ hybrids, but we can’t rule out that it crossed with something else in the garden.

Calanthe ‘Orange Explosion’

Calanthe sieboldii hails from China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. It’s one of the showiest of the winter hardy species, with tall stalks of bright yellow flowers. Most taxonomist now feel the correct name for this is the earlier published, Calanthe striata.

Calanthe sieboldii

Calanthe ‘Takane’ is a group of Japanese created hybrids of Calanthe discolor and Calanthe sieboldii. They inherited the taller flower spikes from Calanthe sieboldii.

Calanthe ‘Takane’

Calanthe tricarinata has a wide native range from Pakistan to Japan. Flower color ranges from yellow to orange, all with a red lip.

Calanthe tricarinata

Calanthe ‘Yellow Lipstics’ is another Japanese seed strain from a four-species cross of Calanthe sieboldii, Calanthe kawakamii (which some people consider a form of sieboldii), Calanthe tricarinata, and Calanthe aristulifera.

Calanthe ‘Yellow Lipstics’

6 thoughts on “Craving Calanthes”

  1. Has anyone tried cross breeding these spring blooming calanthes with the late summer blooming C. reflexa?

  2. Maryann Witalec Keyes

    I love Calanthe; but alas, I live in zone 6A. Can I grow them indoors in a sunroom over the winter and then move them outside for the summer?

    1. In Japan, they are often grown indoors, but we don’t have any specifics as to which species would work best.

  3. Hi,

    I purchased a Calanthe sieboldi in April 2022. Planted around April 16, that same year. For the past 2 years I get leaves (one set), but no flowers. Is this normal? Wondering if I should move it to possibly a little more light? it is planted under crepe myrtles that leaf out quite late. So gets “winter sun” but “summer shade.”
    Sending photo of shade from July 2023.


    Mary Bean

    1. It’s not typical for it to take that long to flower, but it’s not abnormal either. Since these are seed-grown, each plant, like people, become sexually active (flower) at different ages. The habit looks perfect, so if it looks healthy, I’d leave it alone.

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