June and July are high time for blooming for Neofinetia falcata, but flowers have already started opening up here in Michigan. If you have never experienced the heaven that is Neofinetia scent, it’s a great time to pick one up so you can enjoy its intoxicating fragrance for yourself. I have smelled a lot (I mean A LOT) of orchids, and I still think Neos smell the best. Many people ask if they are all fragrant, and the answer is, “yes.” Not all varieties are equally likely to bloom regularly, however. Many of the ultra mini bean (mameba) types such as Kuroshinju don’t bloom much, but their cuteness more than balances that equation. Similarly, the pine needle types such as Yoroidoushi produce few flowers on an irregular basis. Those guys look so cool, though, and grow so fast that I don’t care about the flowers.
Most Neofinetia produce white flowers; however, there are some that produce pink, green, and yellow flowers–not all on the same plant 🙂 The most well-known pink bloomer by far is Shutennou. The petals and sepals are mostly white, but the nectary and peduncle (flower stem) are a very dark pink. Murasakitaishi is similarly colored while some of my newer acquisitions, such as Honggang and Raizan, have almost solid bright pink flowers. The greenest guy I know is Hisui, but Kishu Ryokufu is another great variety because it’s such a vigorous grower and tends to produce some purple on the leaves. Currently the only yellow I can find is Kibana which is an excellent grower and a reliable bloomer. It’s hard to be upset about that guy as an only choice.
I am talking about flowers because Neofinetia flowers come once a year, and this is the season. If you have these lovelies in your orchid collection, you know that the flowers are the icing on the cake when it comes to enjoying these plants. Even without blooms, each plant is a sculptural and sometimes colorful natural work of art every day of the year. If you love succulents or begonias, you know that flowers sometimes just distract from the vegetative growth form. I must reiterate, however, that the fragrance is something you need to experience. Once you do, you will hold it in your memory through the long months of winter and look forward to the warm spring and summer days that bring that perfume back.
Which orchids smell like chocolate?
Kristen Uthus says
Oncidium Sherry Baby is the one best known for smelling like chocolate. There have been some other oncidiums hybrids that smell similarly chocolatey. The truth is that they don’t even compare with how great Neofinetia falcata smells. Not even close 🙂
Diane Keesee says
I just got my first neo this year. I notice that your pics show a fair amount of sphagnum moss on the top. Is that throughout the potting mix or just on top? Mine came in bark only
I usually grow my Neos in sphagnum in the more traditional fashion. Although it looks like there’s a lot of moss, the mound is actually hollow which allows for good air circulation around the roots. This is important for any kind of vanda as wet roots lead to root rot. There are some great videos on YouTube for how to do the traditional moss wrap, but there’s no need to be fancy. I just stick a styrofoam peanut in the middle of the root ball (to maintain an air space) and wrap some moss around the roots–just enough to cover. Pop him down in the pot, and voila! Done!
Neos are versatile plants, however, so people grow them about every way it’s possible to grow orchids: in moss, in bark, bareroot, mounted, in baskets, semi-hydroponic, etc. If you find that one way isn’t working great for you, you can switch.