The hardy Australian phalaenopsis relative.
The genus Sarcochilus contains about twenty-five species, seventeen of which are native to the green Eastern slopes of Australia. They complete a small but distinct and useful group of the famous Aeridinae subtribe of the Vanedae, an Asian group of the great orchid family, which includes vandas, phalaenopsis, renanthera, rhynchostylus, and a number of other monopodial orchids.
It has only been in recent years that breeding sarcochilus has gained importance. Most breeding has been built around the king and queen of the genus, Sarcochilus hartmanii and Sarcochilus fitzgeraldii. These two species set the qualities of the Australian sarcs with their relatively large, shapely, mostly white flowers which are born in mass reliably each year in the spring. By selecting and including characteristics from the more botanical other species, as well as related other genera, new colors and patterns are being developed.
Santa Barbara Orchid Estate has twenty years of experience with this group, collecting, selecting, testing, breeding. Our collection is near 2000 plants, a number of which are large specimen size, all of which are grown with our cymbidiums under natural Santa Barbara temperature ranging from 28°F to 100°F. These plants give an enormous spring floral display and are noticably easy, consistent, and trouble free.
Our day temperatures are usually in the 60°sF through the 80°sF. Sometimes they can approach 100°F on a very hot day, in which case we keep the water going. Winter night temperatures are often in the 30°sF, while our coldest has been 28°F for hartmanii.
We grow our Sarcochilus hartmannii and fitzgeraldii species, and their hybrids, under cymbidium-cattleya type light. Sarcochilus ceciliae and roseus want it brighter and are best hung up where the get more light. Others may want more shade.
Watering, as with all orchids, is done as needed under our conditions. Watering once a week with occasional wetting down during warm periods is sufficient. Mounted plants are often wet down on sunny days during the summer. In the spring, care should be taken to make sure the flowers are dry by night as bottiritis flower spotting can occur if the flowers are wet during the night.
Sarcochilus can be potted or mounted, but the characteristics of the individual species must be taken into consideration. Main stream types such as Sarcochilus falcatus, fitzgeraldii, and hartmannii grow well mounted or potted in fir bark, coconut chunks, or rocks such as crushed granite (i.e. in nature these and other sarcs are lithopytes). As the clumps grow they can be divided.