How to grow and care for Zygopetalum Orchids Indoors

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Indoor Orchid, Zygopetalum Orchid

Botanical name: Zygopetalum spp
Tribe: Maxillarieae
Subtribe: Zygopetalinae

Zygopetalum Orchids are popular Indoor Orchids due to their colorful, fragrant, waxy, long-lasting blooms which occur in multiples in shades of green, purple, burgundy and raspberry with several patterns. The blooms are held by tall, upright stems and will fill a room with a delightful fragrance. The leaves are glossy and strap-like. They are deeply ribbed and light-green reaching about 2 ft long. These orchids have a robust growth form and bear large, ovoid-conical pseudobulbs which are deciduous. Zygopetalum is a genus that occurs in humid forests at low- to mid-elevation regions of South America, with most species occuring in Brazil. Most are epiphytes but some are terrestrials. The genus name Zygopetalum is derived from the Greek words zugon meaning "yoke" in reference to the yoke-like growth at the base of the lip (lowest flower petal).

How to Grow Zygopetalum Orchids (Zygopetalum spp)


Zygopetalum Orchids grow best in bright, indirect light away from direct sunshine. Keep them away from direct sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves. Regularly turn the pot to ensure the plant gets adequate light on all sides. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants


For lush growth and regular blooms, water Zygopetalum Orchids thoroughly during the growing period and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering in the cold period. Avoid waterlogging as it can cause the orchid to rot. Use tepid, chlorine-free water as orchids are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Avoid wetting the foliage as it can lead to fungal diseases. Zygopetalum Orchids are more tolerant of dry soil conditions due to the presence of pseudobulbs and their thick leaves. Learn more on how to water houseplants.


The best temperatures for Zygopetalum Orchids are between 10-290C. Warmer days and cooler night temperatures are ideal. Cool nights are essential to trigger flowering. Ensure there is good air circulation as orchids cannot tolerate hot and stuffy conditions. Protect them from draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.


High humidity is ideal for Zygopetalum Orchids. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth. Do not mist the leaves as it can lead to fungal diseases.


Feed Zygopetalum Orchids every 2 weeks with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Do not feed an orchid that is in flower. In feeding, it is better to err on the side of underfeeding than overfeeding. Overfeeding may result in loss of roots thus death of the orchid. It can also lead to vegetative growth instead of flower production. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.


Zygopetalum Orchids bloom best when they are pot-bound. Repot Zygopetalum Orchids only when growth begins to suffer. When the orchid has outgrown its pot and the new growth reaches out over the edge of the pot or when the soil has broken down completely. Repot only when new growth begins, shortly after blooming is over. Use a pot with proper drainage holes or slits as the roots need good air circulation. The pot should be only 1 size larger than the previous one. Use loose, free-draining bark soil. When repotting, shake off excess soil and trim off any dried and shrivelled pseudobulbs.


Pruning Zygopetalum Orchids is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife.

How to Propagate Zygopetalum Orchids (Zygopetalum spp)

Zygopetalum Orchids can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season once flowering is over. Gently split the rhizome into sections. Leave at least 3 shoots on each section. Seperate the roots attached to each division from the mother root ball. Remove the old potting soil attached to the roots. Place each section in the center of the pot. Bury the roots in the soil while ensuring that the bottom of the pseudobulb is level with the top of the soil. The best pot should be about 1-2 in. larger than the pseudobulb. Ensure the pot has enough drainage holes and slits to prevent root-rot. Place the set up in a shaded place until they have established their own roots. Water the new Zygopetalum Orchids lightly to enhance root development. Stake each newly repotted plant.

Common Problems in Growing Zygopetalum Orchids (Zygopetalum spp)

  • Brown soft spots on the leaves
  • Brown soft spots on Zygopetalum Orchid leaves are an indication of a fungal disease; remove the affected leaves immediately to prevent further spread.

  • Brown hard and dry spots on leaves
  • Exposure of Zygopetalum Orchids to direct sunshine will result in scorch marks which are brown hard and dry spots on the leaves. Move the orchid to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunshine.

  • Mould on leaves
  • This is an indication of Powdery Mildew Disease. Misting the leaves in Zygopetalum Orchids may lead to mildew growth if the water does not evaporate quickly. Ensure good air circulation and stop misting.

  • Limpy and droopy leaves
  • Limpy and droopy leaves in Zygopetalum Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Water Zygopetalum Orchid thoroughly, maintain the soil consistently moist and allow only the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.

  • Dark-green leaves
  • Dark green leaves in Zygopetalum Orchid indicate that the plant is not getting enough light. Move the orchid to a brighter spot. The leaves of a Zygopetalum Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light-green.

  • Yellowish leaves
  • Yellowish leaves in Zygopetalum Orchid indicate that the plant is getting too much light. Move the orchid to a shadier spot. The leaves of a Zygopetalum Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light-green.

  • Leaf tips turn black and die
  • The cause of black leaf tips in Zygopetalum Orchid is the presence of chemicals like chlorine and flourides in water. Use chlorine-free water only.

  • No blooms
  • Too little light for Zygopetalum Orchids will result in no blooms. Move the plant to a brighter spot. Overfeeding Zygopetalum Orchids can also result in no blooms as it tends to more vegetative growth instead of blooming. Feed Zygopetalum Orchid every 2 weeks with a solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Zygopetalum Orchids are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects, Slugs and Snails. Isolate the affected plant and treat appropriately


Zygopetalum Orchids (Zygopetalum spp) are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.

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