Pronunciation: ha-RELL-ah retro-KELL-ah
Other Names: Taiwan Fragrant Orchid, Rear Facing Lip Spur Haraella
The Haraella retrocalla is a unique miniature orchid that blooms year round. It is very forgiving, and an excellent orchid for beginners to cultivate.
This plant has small bright flowers that come in bright yellow with mahogany accents and they release a light citrus scent. Interestingly, this orchid's fragrance mimics the scent of a female beetle. The male beetle will try to mate with the flower but after an expectedly failed attempt, the male beetle will transfer to another flower carrying the pollinia from the first flower, and thus initiating the pollination process.
If they're properly cared for, these plants can bloom year-round. You can find this orchid growing in Taiwan, and they grow naturally at elevations between 1,000 and 2,000 meters.
As this is a very forgiving orchid, they can tolerate a wide temperature range without incident. Ideally, they prefer daytime temperatures to stay between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 28°C). They like slightly lower nighttime temperatures, and you should try for temperatures that fall between 55°F and 60°F (13°C to 16°).
If you are growing these orchids outside and the temperatures are going to dip below 55°F (13°C) for an extended period, you may want to bring them indoors because they can't tolerate prolonged low temperatures without damage.
This plant requires low to medium light conditions. Placing them in a south-facing or east-facing window should be sufficient.
You can also place them 6 to 12 inches below fluorescent lights to stimulate growth. If your plant isn't growing, but it seems healthy otherwise, it may need more indirect sunlight.
If you place your orchid in direct light, the leaves will suffer from sunburn and develop yellow spots and brown, brittle edges. It may be a good idea to provide sheer netting to break up the sunlight, especially the bright, hot, afternoon sunlight.
Water and Humidity
How much you water your orchid depends on how you choose to plant it. They don't like to dry out, so keeping them moist is a must. If you're growing your orchid on a slab, mist them in the morning and again in the evening.
If your orchid is in a pot, water them every two or three days. You can soak them with a hose until water runs out of the bottom of the pot, or dunk your plant in a bucket of water in the morning and keep it under the water until it stops bubbling. A good humidity level to try for is around 70%, but it will accept humidity levels as low as 50%.
For fertilizer, you can use a 20-10-20 mix that you dilute in a gallon of water at the rate of one-half of a teaspoon per gallon of water. You want to fertilize your orchid once a week, and during the growth period, you may want to use a 6-30-30 fertilizer mix to encourage blooms.
It is also important that you flush your plant's pot or slab once a month to prevent build-up. Also, you may want to tip your slab horizontally to ensure that the fertilizer soaks into the plant's roots.
Haraella retrocalla grow best on slabs of wood with intact bark, but they also do very well in pots. If you can't keep your humidity levels around 50% or higher, it's best to grow them in pots to prevent the roots from drying out quicker.
Repot your orchid once a year or every 18 months to refresh their growing medium. This only applies if you plant them in pots. If you plant them on a slab, they can go 10 years without repotting.
See how small and delicate the Haraella Retrocalla actually is. The Indoor Gardener uses the swamp method to grow his little orchid.