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Comparettia speciosa Rchb. f.

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Comparettia speciosa Rchb. f. 


ORIGIN/HABITAT: Ecuador. These epiphytic plants are found in very wet
mountain forests in the southerastern provinces of Zamora-Chinchipe and
Morona-Santiago. They grow at elevations of 3300-4900 ft. (1000-1500 m). 

CLIMATE: Station #84425, Yurimaguas, Peru, Lat. 5.9S, Long. 76.1W, at 587
ft. (179 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 4900 ft.
(1500 m). Record extreme temperatures are not available for this location.
Records from nearby locations indicate probable extremes near 92F (33C)
and 40F (5C), however.

F AVG MAX        74   76   77   76   75   74   74   74   74   74   74   73
F AVG MIN        57   58   59   59   59   59   59   59   59   59   59   58
DIURNAL RANGE    17   18   18   17   16   15   15   15   15   15   15   15
RAIN/INCHES     2.0  2.7  3.5  4.7  6.9  5.7  5.3  5.9  7.5  7.0  5.2  2.9
BLOOM SEASON      *    *    *    *              *    *    *    *    *    *
DAYS CLR        N/A
RAIN/MM          51   69   89  119  175  145  135  150  191  178  132   74
C AVG MAX      23.3 24.4 25.0 24.4 23.9 23.3 23.3 23.3 23.3 23.3 23.3 22.8
C AVG MIN      13.9 14.3 14.9 14.9 14.9 14.9 14.9 14.9 14.9 14.9 14.9 14.3
DIURNAL RANGE   9.4 10.1 10.1  9.5  9.0  8.4  8.4  8.4  8.4  8.4  8.4  8.5

Cultural Recommendations: 

LIGHT: 800-1500 fc. Light should be filtered or diffused, and plants
should never be exposed to direct sun. Strong air movement should be
provided at all times. 

TEMPERATURES: Throughout the year, days average 73-77F (23-25C), and
nights average 57-59F (14-15C), with a diurnal range of 15-18F (8-10C).
These temperatures represent conditions in the highest and, therefore,
coolest part of the habitat. They are the coolest temperatures at which
this species should be grown. Because of variations in habitat elevation,
plants adapt to conditions that are 3-5F (2-3C) warmer than indicated. 

HUMIDITY: Records are not available for this location, but averages in the
wet forest habita are probably 80% or greater throughout the year. 

WATER: Rainfall in the habitat is moderate to heavy year-round. Conditions
are somewht drier in winter, but with the additional moisture from heavy
dews and mist, the habiata does not dry out completely. Cultivated plants
should be kept evenly moist with only slight drying allowed between

FERTILIZER: A balanced fertilizer mixed at 1/4-1/2 recommended strength
should be applied every 2-3 weeks if plants are grown in sphagnum moss,
tree-fern fiber, or osmunda. If grown in fir bark, the applications should
be made weekly. Many growers prefer to use a high nitrogen fertilizer
early in the year when plants are actively growing. They may then switch
to a high phosphate or "bloom booster" formula in late summer or autumn in
order to promote flowering. 

REST PERIOD: Growing conditions should be maintained all year. Water may
be reduced somewhat in winter, especially for plants grown in the dark,
short-day conditions common in temperate latitudes. They should never be
allowed to dry out completely, however. Fertilizer should be reduced if
water is reduced. 

GROWING MEDIA: Because of the pendent growth habit, plants are more easily
maiaged if mounted on tree-fern or cork slabs. Humidity must be kept high,
however, and plants watered at least once daily in summer. Several
waterings a day may be necessary for mounted plants during very hot, dry
periods. Because most growers find it difficult to keep mounted plants
moist enough, they are usually grown in small hanging pots or baskets. The
medium should be open and fast draining medium. Growers often recommend
using materials that retain some moisture such as chopped sphagnum and
perlite. Charcoal is often added to help keep the medium open and prevent
it from becoming sour. Because the continually moist medium breaks down
fairly rapidly, plants are probably healthier if repotted every year.
Repotting is usually done in late winter or early spring. It should be
done just as new root growth is starting. This allows the plant to become
re-established in the shortest possible time with the least amount of

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The bloom season shown in the climate table is based
on cultivation records. In nature, plants bloom in late summer and early

Plant and Flower Information:

PLANT SIZE AND TYPE: A sympodial epiphyte that grows to 10 in. (25 cm)
tall. The pendent growths are closely spaced along a short rhizome, and
visitors to the habitat report plants are often hanging from their host by
only a single root. . 

PSEUDOBULB: The short, cylindrical pseudobulbs are protected at the base
by sharply pointed, distichous, papery bracts. 

LEAVES: 4-10 in. (10-25 cm) long. A single stiff, fleshy leaf, often
suffused with red, is carried at the top of each pseudobulb. The
oblong-lanceolate leaves are up to 1.7 in. (4.2 cm) wide and taper to
pointed tips. 

INFLORESCENCE: Up to 20 in. (50 cm) long. The spikes emerge from the base
of the pseudobulb and may either branch or grow as a raceme with the
flowers rather widely spaced toward the apex. 

FLOWERS: 7-17 . The bright orange blossoms are about 1.4 in. (3.5 cm) tall
and up to1.2 in. (3 cm) across the flat-opening, widespread, 3-lobed lip.
The dorsal sepal is about 0.6 in. (1.4 cm) long, 0.2 in. (0.4 cm) wide,
and is held in a foreward-pointing position over the column. The lateral
sepals are connected to each other to form an elongated, reflexed,
slender, tubular spur that is up to 1.4 in. (3.5 cm) long. The oval petals
are about 0.5 in. (1.2 cm) long, 0.2 in. (0.6 cm) wide, and have sharply
pointed tips. The wingless column is greenish, and the anther is white. 



Bechtel, H., P. Cribb, and E. Launert. 1980. Manual of cultivated orchid
species. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Dodson, C., and P. de Dodson. 1982. Orchids of Ecuador, Fasc. 5, plates
401-500. Icones Plantarum Tropicarum. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens,
Sarasota, Fla.

Pridgeon, A. ed. 1992. The illustrated encyclopedia of orchids. Timber
Press, Portland, OR. 


Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. Baker
Sheet version 566799

Please remember that this sheet is for your use only, and though it was
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