Pleione Orchid – Himalayan Crocus
Exquisite showy pink to purplish flowers arise on bare stems in spring.
These are small plants with flowers to 15cm followed by leaves to 30cm. The flowers arise from pseudobulbs that are only active for one season, shrivelling after flowering. A healthy pseudobulb will provide two new pseudobulbs for the following year.
Pleiones come from the mountains and foothills of the Himalayas, and are well adapted to cold temperatures and even frost. They grow in well-drained habitats and on rocks covered with moss at altitudes of 600–4,200 m. They are regarded, by Orchidists, as easy to grow. Commercially available plants are all hybrid varieties.
Soil / Aspect:
Pleiones will not stand wet during their winter dormancy. If you are going to place them in the ground then do make sure to plant them in a slightly raised position with lots of grit under the pseudobulb. They like rain and will not tolerate any direct sunlight, in which respect they are rather like the Chatham Island forget-me-not. There should be no overhanging vegetation of any kind – ie no sun and no shade [from rain]!
There are two approaches to getting Pleione through the winter. If you are growing these outside then one advice is to cover with a pot during winter. Other people lift the bulbs and keep them in a cool dry place over winter. The flowers do attract aphids but this is easily controlled with a spray of a mineral oil such as Conqueror Oil.