How to grow and care for Zygopetalum Orchid Indoors

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 in Zygopetalum Orchids 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.

Zygopetalum Orchids have a robust growth form and bear large, ovoid-conical pseudobulbs which are deciduous.

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).


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.

Where to Buy

If you are looking to add this spectacular orchid to your collection, beautiful and healthy Zygopetalum Orchids are readily available online at Etsy. Buy Zygopetalum Orchids from Etsy.

Zygopetalum Orchid

Zygopetalum Orchid Care Indoors

Light Requirements

Zygopetalum Orchid grows best in bright, indirect light away from direct sunshine. Keep it away from hot sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves.

Regularly turn the pot to ensure that the orchid gets adequate light on all sides. Check 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 during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

Use tepid, chlorine-free water as the orchid is 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.

As such take care not to overwater the orchid as it may begin to rot. Read more on how to water houseplants.


The best temperatures for growing Zygopetalum Orchid indoors are between 10-290C. Warmer days and cooler night temperatures with a difference of 10-150C are ideal for the orchid. Cool nights are essential to trigger flowering.

Ensure there is good air circulation as the Zygopetalum Orchid cannot tolerate hot and stuffy conditions.

Keep the orchid away from draughts to prevent sudden changes in temperature. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.


Zygopetalum Orchid requires a humid environment. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.

Do not mist the leaves as it can lead to fungal diseases. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Zygopetalum Orchids every 2 weeks during the growing season with an orchid's fertilizer as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time. Do not feed an orchid that is in flower.

It is better to err on the side of underfeeding than overfeeding as overfeeding may result in loss of roots thus death of the orchid.

If you overfeed a Zygopetalum Orchid, it can also lead to vegetative growth instead of flower production. Read more on how to feed houseplants.


Zygopetalum Orchids bloom best when they are pot-bound. Repot only when growth begins to suffer.

Repot 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.

Basically repotting a Zygopetalum Orchid every 2-3 years should be adequate.

Repot it only when new growth begins, shortly after blooming is over. Do not repot an orchid that is in flower as it may shorten the flowering season.

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.

When repotting, shake off excess soil and trim off any dried and shrivelled pseudobulbs.

The large orchids can be divided to propagate new plants.


The best soil for Zygopetalum Orchid should be rich in organic matter, loose, free-draining bark soil to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most orchid potting mixes are ideal. Buy quality Orchid Potting Mix for Zygopetalum Orchid from Etsy.


Pruning Zygopetalum Orchid is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife. When flowering is over, cut the flower stalk 1 in. above the 3rd node from the bottom.


Zygopetalum Orchid propagation can be done at the beginning of the growing season once flowering is over by rhizome division.

How to propagate Zygopetalum Orchid by rhizome division

Gently split the Zygopetalum Orchid rhizome into sections while ensuring there are at least 3 shoots on each section.

Seperate the roots attached to each division from the mother orchid root-ball.

Remove the old potting soil attached to the section roots and place each section in the center of the pot.

Bury the roots of the section in the soil while ensuring that the bottom of the pseudobulb is level with the top of the soil.

The best pot for the section should be about 1-2 in. larger than the pseudobulb.

Ensure the pot has enough drainage holes and slits to prevent root-rot of the section.

Place the set up in a well-lit place until the sections have established their own roots.

Water the new Zygopetalum Orchids lightly to enhance root development. Stake each newly repotted plant.

Zygopetalum Orchid

Zygopetalum Orchid Problems Indoors

Brown soft spots on the leaves

Brown soft spots in 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 the Zygopetalum Orchid 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 hot direct sunshine.

Mold on the leaves

Mold on the leaves in Zygopetalum Orchid is an indication of powdery mildew disease.

Misting the leaves may lead to mildew growth if the water does not evaporate quickly. Ensure good air circulation for the orchid and stop misting it.

Limpy and drooping leaves

Limpy and drooping leaves in Zygopetalum Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out at all. Water the orchid thoroughly and maintain the soil consistently moist.

Dark-green leaves

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

Move the orchid to a brighter spot where it will receive bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is inadequate.

Yellowish leaves

Yellowish leaves in Zygopetalum Orchid indicate that the orchid is receiving too much light that is very hot sunshine.

Move the orchid to a more shaded spot. The leaves of a Zygopetalum Orchid that is receiving bright, indirect light away from direct sunshine should be light-green.

Leaf tips turning black and dying

The cause of black leaf tips in Zygopetalum Orchid is the presence of chemicals like chlorine and flourides in the water or accumulation of salts in the soil.

Use chlorine-free water only to water the orchid and flush out accumulated salts from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil for about 10 minutes until it comes out through the drainage holes.

No blooms

One possible reason why Zygopetalum Orchid is not blooming is too little light. Move the orchid to a brighter spot and ensure it is receiving bright light with some direct sunshine.

Overfeeding a Zygopetalum Orchid can result in vegetative growth at the expense of flowers production.

Feed the orchid once weekly with an orchid's fertilizer as per the manufacturer's instructions.


The common plant pests in Zygopetalum Orchids are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects, Slugs and Snails.

Isolate the affected orchid to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Is Zygopetalum Orchid toxic?

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

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