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Neofinetia falcata (Thunb.) H.H. Hu

This culture sheet was provided by Charles and Margaret Baker.
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Charles and Margaret Baker

Neofinetia falcata (Thunb.) H.H. Hu

AKA: Orchis falcata Thunb., Oeceoclades falcata (Thunb.) Lindl., Angraecum
falcatum (Thunb.) Lindl., Aerides thunbergii Miq., Angraeacaopsis falcata
(Thunb.) Schltr., Finetia falcata (Thunb.) Schltr., Nipponorchis falcata
(Thunb.) Masamune, Holcoglossum falcatum (Thunb.) Garay & Sweet. In Japan,
N. falcata has been known as Fuki-ran (Rich and Noble Orchid), and is
known in some localities as Fu-ran (Wind Orchid).

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Northeast Asia. Originally detected by Thunberg in
southern Japan, plants were growing on hills hear the port city of
Nagasaki on Kyushu Island. It is now known to be more widespread in Japan
where it grows on the islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Plants are
also found on the small islands of Yakusima and Tanegasima off the
southern coast of Kyushu, on Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands, and in China
and Korea. N. falcata may grow on rocks, but is usually found growing
epiphytically on rather small branches of deciduous trees where strong
light is received in winter and early spring. Plants normally grow at an
angle on the branch so that water drains away and does not collect at the
base of the leaves. A grower in Japan reported that N. falcata does well
mounted on the coarse bark of a persimmon tree in his garden in Yokohama.

CLIMATE: Station #47827, Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan, Lat. 31.6N, Long.
130.6E, at 19 ft. (6 m). Record extreme temperatures are 97F (36C) and 20F

F AVG MAX        53   54   60   68   74   78   85   87   83   75   65   56
F AVG MIN        37   38   43   52   58   66   73   74   69   59   49   40
DIURNAL RANGE    16   16   17   16   16   12   12   13   14   16   16   16
RAIN/INCHES     3.4  4.0  6.4  8.7  8.2 17.1 12.2  7.4  8.7  5.2  3.7  3.4
HUMIDITY/%       76   73   74   77   79   82   82   80   80   76   77   77
BLOOM SEASON           *              *   **   **   **    *    *    *    *
DAYS CLR @ 9AM    9    8    9    7    5    3    4    9    9   12   14   13
DAYS CLR @ 3PM    8    9    9    8    5    3    5    6    6   13   13   13
RAIN/MM          86  102  163  221  208  434  310  188  221  132   94   86
C AVG MAX      11.7 12.2 15.6 20.0 23.3 25.6 29.4 30.6 28.3 23.9 18.3 13.3
C AVG MIN       2.8  3.3  6.1 11.1 14.4 18.9 22.8 23.3 20.6 15.0  9.4  4.4
DIURNAL RANGE   8.9  8.9  9.5  8.9  8.9  6.7  6.6  7.3  7.7  8.9  8.9  8.9

Cultural Recommendations:
The following recommendations are based on averages in the habitat. They
may be used as a guide for newly acquired plants whose requirements are
unknown, or for plants that are not growing or flowering as well as they
should. Reports from growers are included when they indicate success with
conditions in cultivation that are outside the range found in the habitat.

LIGHT: 2000-3600 fc. 

TEMPERATURES: Summer days average 78-87F (26-31C), and nights average
66-74F (19-23C), with a diurnal range of 12-13F (7C).

HUMIDITY: 80-85% in summer, dropping to near 75% during the remainder of
the year.

WATER: Rainfall is moderate to heavy throughout the year with the wettest
season occurring from spring into autumn. Heavy water should be provided
for cultivated plants when they are actively growing, and they should
never be allowed to dry out completely.

FERTILIZER: A balanced fertilizer, mixed at 1/4-1/2 recommended strength,
should be applied weekly during periods of active growth. Many growers use
a fertilizer with lower nitrogen and higher phosphate in autumn. This
improves blooming the next season and encourages new growths to harden
before winter. Pots should be leached every few weeks to prevent salt
buildup, especially when fertilizer is being applied most heavily. Plants
should first be watered normally to dissolve any accumulated salts. An
hour or so later, the medium is flushed with water equal to about twice
the volume of the pot. Year-round leaching is important in areas with
heavily mineralized water.

REST PERIOD: Winter days average 53-56F (12-13C), and nights average
37-40F (3-4C), with a diurnal range of 16F (9C). The actual winter
temperatures are probably not that critical since average winter minimums
on Okinawa are 50-55F (10-13C), while in Yokohama the lows are 32F (0C) or
below for 3 months. Conditions are even colder for a longer period in
Korea. Winter rainfall is lower in the habitat, and water should be
reduced for cultivated plants during this time. Even less water should be
given plants that are grown in very cool conditions. Even these plants
should not be allowed to become completely dry, however. The necessary
conditions may be met in most growing areas by occasional early morning
misting, with a light watering given every two weeks or so. Water is
especially beneficial during bright, sunny weather. The clearest,
brightest weather in the habitat occurs in  autumn and winter. Light is
highest in winter, so for cultivated plants, shading should be removed
from the growing area and as much light as possible, short of burning the
foliage, provided during this time of year. Fertilizer should be reduced
or eliminated until conditions become warmer and watering is increased in
the spring.

GROWING MEDIA: Plants may be mounted on slabs of cork or tree-fern fiber,
with a small pad of osmunda or sphagnum moss. If grown on slabs, high
humidity must be maintained, and water must be applied at least once daily
during the summer. If potted, small pots and a very open, fast draining
medium should be used. Hawkes recommends osmunda or shredded tree-fern
fiber tightly packed in small pots. In his American Orchid Society
Bulletin article, Kichigoro Suszuki reported that this species loves
moving air across its roots and must have a well-aerated medium. He
recommended repotting in late winter or early spring, using fresh sphagnum
moss. The roots should be wrapped with sphagnum and then screwed gently
into a pot. The base of the plant should be left above the rim of the pot.
While potting, the roots are easily broken. Never cut or tear off the
broken or damaged roots because they are still alive. However, all dead or
diseased roots should be removed before potting.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The bloom season in the table based on cultivation
reports. In nature, N. falcata usually blooms summer-autumn. Cultivated
plants are very susceptible to rot if grown in a vertical position. It is
preferable to mount or pot the plant at an angle so that water on the
foliage is able to drain away.

Plant and Flower Information:

PLANT SIZE AND TYPE: A miniature, monopodial epiphyte that is usually less
than 2.5 in. (6.4 cm) tall, but may grow as tall as 6 in. (15 cm). In
general, the plant resembles a dwarf, strap-leaf vanda.

PSEUDOBULBS: None. There is a short stem, and the plant branches freely
with new plants growing from leaf axils near the base.

LEAVES: There are several pairs of distichous, fleshy, pointed, keeled
leaves on each stem. They are 2-4 in. (5-10 cm) long, and are often
gracefully curving. The leaves are usually light green, but may rarely be
variegated with cream-white longitudinal stripes.

INFLORESCENCE: About 3 in. (7.5 cm) long, but usually shorter than the
leaves. Several erect inflorescences at a time emerge from near the top of
the plant, usually from the base of the third leaf down from the top. On
mature plants, if no inflorescence is produced, there is a good chance
that a new growth will be initiated instead.

FLOWERS: Each inflorescence bears 3-7 pure white flowers that are about
1.25 in. (3 cm) in diameter. They are commonly longer than wide, and are
usually very fragrant, especially at night. Each flower has a curved,
awl-like spur about 1.5 in. (3.7 cm) long. The dorsal sepal and petals
flare upward, the lateral sepals curve down and outward, and the short,
three-lobed lip turns down from beneath the column.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count is 2n = 38. N. falcata has been used
with Vanda and Ascocentrum species in recent years to create charming
miniature hybrids. The dwarf growth habit is passed on to the offspring,
but we do not know if the cold-tolerance is passed on. However, it seems
entirely likely that N. falcata could be used to breed cold-tolerance into
hybrids with Vanda, Ascocentrum, Phalaenopsis and other members of the
Sarcanthinea subtribe.


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

Hawkes, A. D. (1965) 1987. Encyclopaedia of cultivated orchids. Faber and
Faber, London. 

Northen, R. T. 1980. Miniature orchids. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York. 

Sheehan, T. and M. 1983. Orchid Genera, Illustrated - 91 - Neofinetia.
American Orchid Society Bulletin, 52(1):49.

Suzuki, K. 1985. Japanese Orchids - Neofinetia falcata and Ponerorchis
graminifolia. American Orchid Society Bulletin, 54(3):277. 

Veitch, James, and Sons. [1887-1894] 1963, 1981. Manual of orchidaceous
plants. Vols. I-II. James Veitch and Sons, Royal Exotic Nursery, Chelsea,
London. Reprint, Vol. I, A. Asher and Co., Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
reprint, Vol. II, Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, India.

Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. Baker
Sheet version 4024645

Please remember that this sheet is for your use only, and though it was
provided free of charge, it may not be reproduced or retransmitted in
any way without permission.

 "Orchid Species Culture" Charles & Margaret Baker, Portland, Oregon USA

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This culture sheet was provided by Charles and Margaret Baker.
Please visit their web site to find out about their Orchid Species Culture books,
Pollination Database, and culture sheet subscription service.