Floating White Egret Flowers

This orchid, Habenaria radiata, (syn. Pecteilis radiata) is from Asia and is one of the most delicate and lovely of the terrestrial orchids commonly used as an accent for bonsai. It grows from a bulb that over-winters without leaves. A couple years ago I put two bulbs in this pot and they’ve trebled in number, sending up six flower stalks this summer. The photo is informal, but I hope you get a feel for the floating quality of the 1″ flowers. They are breathtaking in person.

I plant Egret flower in straight kanuma and keep it in sun or light shade, and they flower in late august in Portland, Oregon, lasting a couple weeks. It seems to grow better along with other plants such as grass or reed. Keep moist, it is a bog/marsh plant. You might wrap each bulb lightly in a bit of spagnum when inserting in the kanuma to keep them from drying. Egret flower takes light frosts without problems. I leave the bulbs in the pots and they come up in the spring.

Hopefully you don’t mind postings of accent plants… I think bonsai yards are missing something important without them interspersed on the benches. You can keep accents elsewhere when not doing something interesting, and then put them up on the benches when they are putting on a show.

Egret flowers with stonecrop and grass.

How they do soar! 12 in bloom, 5 more in bud. Two days later I had 16 in bloom...

13 Comments

  1. farmerted says:

    Just amazing… but more amazingly beautiful in person!

  2. Jeffrey Robson says:

    Just breathtaking! Absolutely beautiful. Keep the accent plants coming.

  3. Chris says:

    Agree, I like the accent plants as well. These indeed are very interesting!

  4. bonsai eejit says:

    I had these for 2 years but they never emerged after last Winter. Where do you put them over Winter? A truly beautiful flower. I agree with the others, keep the accents coming. It’s part of the big picture 🙂

    • crataegus says:

      I just keep them from freezing hard in the winter. I put them on the ground in my greenhouse, where they might freeze lightly but it would be rarely and that is about it. No special care. It is very humid here in Portland in the winter, that is one point. Keep them moist, never let them dry out.

  5. I loved the flowers.Do you think I could keep them alive in Scottsdale Az.

    • crataegus says:

      Hm, I lived in Oracle, AZ for a few years and I think even up there at 4,500 ft. they would not care for the dryness. Maybe try the spiral orchid first. That is easier to grow.

  6. They look great and I would love to hear more about your accent plants! I had questions about accents in general.
    When do you feel is the best time to collect them and when is best to transpant them or does it really matter?

    • crataegus says:

      Many accent plants, because the root system is generally compact, may be collected just about anytime. Spring and late summer are generally best, though. It does depend on what we’re talking about. Accent plants can be anything from a huckleberry to a dandelion. Or just moss. But the flowering perennials and grasses are typical, and just try to collect them when they’re not doing something that requires a lot of umph, like flowering. If you collect or transplant them out of season like late fall, just keep them from freezing in the winter.

  7. Janet Roth says:

    Oh Michael I’m so jealous! I had some in my goyo pot that bloomed for a couple years, and then disappeared. My spirals though are spreading into every accent pot on the bench 🙂

    • crataegus says:

      Ah, well it’s yet to be seen if they’ll keep at it as they have been. Spirals are wonderful. The slugs sure like them here and I have a population that is always teetering on demise. Grow as they do.

  8. Oh, that’s so wonderful! May be next year my Sagisou will become like Yours… It’s my first Habenaria and I like Your idea for growing it.

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