Eriochilus is a small genus of 4 or 5 species, all of which occur only in Australia.
Eriochilus cucullatus is a slender species with a up to five small, white (or occasionally pink) flowers on a stem up to 25 cm high. Flowering usually occurs in summer through to early autumn. The species has a single, oval shaped leaf up to 4 cm long. The leaf usually appears after flowering has finished after which the plants become dormant when they die back to an underground tuber.
Although E.cucullatus is a little easier to grow than many other terrestrial orchids, it is cultivated mainly by orchid enthusiasts. Generally the plants are grown in pots in a freely draining, sandy mix. They require good air circulation in a protected position of about 50% sun during the growing period from late summer. During this growing period the plants must not be allowed to dry out. After the leaves have died back to the tuber, the pots are allowed to dry out completely.
For further information on terrestrial orchid cultivation see Australia’s Native Orchids by Les Nesbitt.
Propagation of orchids requires specialised methods and is rarely attempted by the casual grower. The following references provide further information on growing terrestrial orchids from seed.
- Australian Terrestrial Orchids from Seed; D K McIntyre, G J Veitch and J W Wrigley
- A New Medium for Raising Australian Terrestrial Orchids from Seed; G J Veitch and D K McIntyre
Both articles appear in Australian Plants, journal of the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia), March 1973.
Photo: Jill Dark