Orchid Tolumnia: Home Care, Transplants And Propagation

The small genus Tolumnia, a member of the orchid family, was only recently isolated from the larger genus Oncidium. This genus includes about 30 species of perennial plants. In nature they can be found only on the islands of the Caribbean. To a large number of orchidists they are still known by their obsolete generic name, and are sold as such in many flower stores.

Oncidium and Tolumnia have distinct differences, and so it is not too difficult to distinguish one plant from the other.

For example, unlike Oncidium, Tolumnia has no pseudobulbs at all or they are weakly expressed. Often a short, thin stem grows in their place. Vaginal paired leaves grow on the rhizome (a creeping shoot of sympoid orchids), often tightly adjoining each other to form small rosettes. The fleshy leaves can be broadly lanceolate or oval-tipped, and are 5 to 20 centimeters long and 5 to 15 centimeters wide. The long (up to 75 centimeters) branched flower stalks are multiflorous.

Each inflorescence bears 12-60 small flowers, which are 1.5-3 centimeters in diameter. Flowers are distinctly zygomorphic and have the shape characteristic of oncidiums, but it is somewhat more complicated. 3 narrow, small sepals (sepals, which are confused with petals) are wedge-shaped or obovate, inscribed in the tips of an isosceles triangle. The 2 true petals (petals) are not as narrow as the sepals, often wavy, sometimes have a rugged edge.

The three-lobed, compound lip (3rd petal) is divided into 2 equal parts, narrow at the base, opening into a broad, rounded fan. Diameter of the lip is usually larger than the whole flower, but sometimes it exceeds it by 2 or 3 times. The short, thick column (reproductive organ of the flower) has winglets.

The flowers may be colored in different colors and may be monochromatic or with a pattern. For example, the pinkish-white calyx has many burgundy spots of various sizes and shapes.

They may be found only in the center of the flower or scattered over the whole surface of the sepals and petals, changing their color to reddish-burgundy. Tolumnia guianensis - Its flowers are colored bright yellow, with small maroon spots at the base of the petals. Tolumnia beautiful (Tolumnia pulchella) - a very beautiful plant with light pink flowers. At the base of the broad lip of such a flower are short yellowish strokes that create a torn, chaotic pattern.

Orchid Tolumnia: home care, transplants and propagation

Many hybrids and varieties of such a plant have a fancier and more varied coloration.

The most popular is the Tolumnia Jairak Rainbow. This spectacular hybrid is the result of crossing hybrids such as Tolumnia Catherine Wilson and Tolumnia Tsiku Vanessa. It has a rather complex coloration which is formed by patches and strokes of white, maroon, pink and yellow and the combination and intensity of color shades directly depends on the variety. The Charming variety, for example, has reddish brownish sepals and petals with a whitish border; the pinkish crimson lip is close to the border, while in the middle it is whitish yellow with red spots, which, merging at the base of the lip, create a uniform red background; the deep yellow column has reddish spots on its surface.

Tolumnia orchid care at home

Orchid Tolumnia: home care, transplants and propagation

Tolumnia is suitable for cultivation at home by experienced orchidists, and for them it is not too difficult.

Inexperienced growers, however, have to do their best to get this plant to flower.


This light-loving plant needs quite bright light. Direct rays of the morning and evening sun do not harm this kind of orchid. But from the midday scorching sunlight in the summer it needs shade, because they can leave burns on the surface of the leaves. To place this plant suitable window west or east orientation.

Remember that from mid-autumn to mid-spring the flower needs backlighting with special phyto-lamps. The light day all year round should have a duration of 10 to 12 hours, and the optimal level of illumination should not be less than 6000-8000 lux.

Temperature regime

Temperature regime for tolumnia is moderately warm, with daily temperature variations well pronounced. The plant will grow and develop best at a temperature of 18 to 22 degrees during the day and 14 to 16 degrees at night. Do not forget that the minimum difference in daily temperatures should be 5 degrees.

Only in this case, the orchid will bloom.


This flower grows on blocks, in special hanging baskets, as well as in pots. In this case, it is recommended to fill the pots with a mixture consisting of sphagnum and pieces of pine bark of a fine fraction, they should be taken in a ratio of 1:5. Blocks are made of large pieces of pine bark. Put the root system and rhizoma of the plant on this block, remembering to cover them with a lightly sandy sphagnum layer first.

Orchid Tolumnia: home care, transplants and propagation

How to water

Water only when the substrate has dried out completely. Watering is best done by immersing the container or block in a basin filled with water. Get the flower should be after 20-30 minutes. Put it back in place only after the excess fluid is completely drained.

Water only well-distilled and soft water.

Orchidists with considerable experience advise, warming such water to a temperature of 30 to 35 degrees, and the flower is best immersed in the liquid during watering the whole (i.e. pot and flower). It has been observed that a "hot shower" activates the growth of the greenery and the formation of flower buds.

From the end of the fall to the end of the winter period, these kinds of orchids have a dormant period, with a dry period in their native land at this very time.

The plant needs very sparing watering for this period. Tolumnia, which grows on a block, should be watered once every 14 days, and grown in a pot - once every 30 days. As soon as the first flower stems appear, you should water normally.

If you don't have a resting period, you will not have any flowering at all or it will be very sparse.


This flower does not need excessively high air humidity.

It can grow and develop normally at a humidity of 45 to 70 percent. To increase the humidity, household steam generators and humidifiers are used, as well as systematic moistening of the leaves from a sprayer (such a procedure should be carried out only in the morning). Also in the immediate vicinity of the flower you can put an open vessel filled with water. Also recommend putting some expanded clay material in the tray and pouring some water in.

Perfections for transplanting

Orchid Tolumnia: home care, transplants and propagation

Tolumnia should be transplanted only if absolutely necessary:

  • Block or container became too small for the flower;
  • Substrate is sour or decayed and algae appeared on its surface.

Lecture #4: Putting the Tolumnia on a block


Fertilizer is a special complex fertilizer for orchids and the dosage has to be seen on the package. The plant needs to be fertilized every 5 waterings.

Propagation methods

Orchid Tolumnia: home care, transplants and propagation

You can only multiply the plant in the apartment by dividing the rhizoma. Remember that a partition will grow and develop better if it has at least 3 pairs of leaves.

Breed commercially by meristem (cloning) and seeds.

Diseases and pests

It can become diseased by overwatering (especially if it is kept cool). It will then develop root rot.


This plant blooms for 2-3 months. However, you should not remove the flower stalks after the flowering is over. The fact is that such old flower stalks are distinguished by repeated flowering, so it will eventually form young branches.

Experts advise to remove only those parts that wither.


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