More Information About Habenaria
Habenaria is a genus of orchids with hundreds of species variable in flower color and weather tolerances. The Habenaria that we sell (H. radiata) is a beautiful hardy orchid with a white flower in summer that looks like an egret spreading its wings.
Habenaria is well known for being difficult to grow...this is a plant best reserved for expert gardeners as it requires vigilance and a soft touch. Habenaria prefers moist but well-drained soil, shade, and precise watering to prevent it from drying out in summer or rotting in winter. Plant your bulbs shallow and cover them with a little sphagnum moss as a moisture barrier. During the growing season you need to grow Habenaria moist...the soil should never dry out completely but you must keep the soil from being water-logged...think about growing Habenaria in a container or a raised / sloped bed in a peat moss / vermiculite mix. Habenaria is sensitive to fertilizer and ion levels so water your plants with rain water or with tap water that has sat out for 2 days to allow the chlorine to evaporate. And go easy on the fertilizer by avoiding chemical fertilizers but instead rely on modest amounts of organic fertilizer.
Once the summer nights cool off to below 60F, start reducing water and stop the fertilizer and allow the media to dry out just a little between waterings. Keep your eyes peeled for signs that the plant is going dormant. Once the plant starts showing signs of going dormant, then water should be withheld to allow the bulb to dry out...provide only enough water to periodically moisten the soil and prevent tuber desiccation. Once the weather starts warming up, water for signs of growth and gradually increase the water and introduce some mild organic fertilizer. Be careful, stay observant, and follow this regimen and you will have no 'egrets'. In fact, your Habenaria will reward you with several new tubers each year to transplant or share.