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 My Orchid Articles
   I am so excited to tell you about the beautiful butterfly I have flying around in my greenhouse.
This is not a ordinary butterfly that you would see flying from flower to flower all summer long however.
   The species are naturally widespread from Trinidad to Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama. The foliage of these species is very different from other orchids. The leaves look like donkey ears. They are very stiff, rough in texture, and are dull red or grayish green in color.

   The inflorescence can reach heights up to 150 cm tall, are jointed and flat. These spikes can remain active for many years producing one flower at a time in succession, a dream of every one that grows orchids.

   The spectacular flower is the reason it is called "The Butterfly Orchid." It looks like a butterfly with a large brightly colored body, very long antennae, and wings barred with yellow and rust brown. When you first see one of these amazing flowers, you may not imagine any flower could look like this.

   The flower is around 12.5 to 15 cm in size and is produced from the apex of the inflorescence. The bloom will last up to three weeks. When the flower dies, a new one is produced to take its place forming a permanent display.
Psychopsis papilio
   Never cut the inflorescence off unless they are totally brown and dead. I had a snail chew off my flower spike and I was just devastated. This was the first time for this particular orchid to bloom. I did not remove the remainder of the inflorescence and in a few weeks I noticed it had branched off the side and was growing again. It is now ready to bloom in just a few more weeks.
   The cultural requirements for P. papilio and its relatives are quite easy as P. papilio grows in relatively dry upland forests therefore do not require an abundance of water. You must take care of how you water this orchid because the roots are very fine and will rot very quickly if over watered.
   Plant them in well-drained mixes such as bark, Sphagnum moss or coconut chunks. They can also be mounted, for example on cork slab if you prefer. Repot in the spring when you notice new growth starting. To insure the leaves keep their pretty coloring, add calcium. If you are on a municipal water supply, there will usually be lots of calcium in the water.
   Keep the temperature between 50-70 oF during the day and 55 to 65 oF at night. Other species of Psychopsis have slightly different requirements. Some require more water than others, for example.
   These wonderful jewels of the orchid world are not hard to grow and are some of the most rewarding orchids. I hope you will try one and see how much fun having a "Butterfly" in your window can be.
   Don't miss some of the hybrids that are now available too, they are amazing!