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How to Grow and Care For Jewel Orchids

If you think the beauty of a Jewel orchid lies in its appearance and nothing more, think again. These beautiful plants have hidden depths that are almost as intriguing as their delicate petals.

Jewel orchid foliage in a baby blue pot with ridges on a white table top.
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If you think the beauty of a Jewel orchid lies in its appearance and nothing more, think again. These beautiful plants have hidden depths that are almost as intriguing as their delicate petals. Orchids have long been admired for their unique appearance, but in recent years, hybridization has led to a surge of new variations with unique markings and colors
The Jewel orchid is a particularly impressive subspecies of the Orchid family; these plants grow small, dense flowers that cover most of the surface area available on their leaves. This makes them one of the most visually striking types of orchids around. If you’re looking to add a Jewel orchid to your home, we’ve got everything you need to know about taking care of this unusual plant here!
Orchids are an incredibly diverse family of tropical plants, with over 20,000 species currently in existence. They are native to tropical climates, meaning they require warm and humid conditions to thrive. Orchids are unique in the sense that they don’t produce their own food; instead, they rely on the compost of previous plants to fuel their growth. Due to their complex nutritional requirements, orchids can be difficult to care for. 
Unlike other flowering plants, growing conditions for orchids must be strictly controlled to prevent damage to the flowers. Orchids require certain amounts of light, temperature, water, fertilizer, and humidity to thrive. If any of these requirements are off, your plant could be harmed!

What is a Jewel Orchid?

Jewel Orchid, or Ludisia discolor, is an unusual orchid variety that’s coveted for its velvety leaves over its blooms. Native to the tropical forests of South East Asia, it thrives best in warm and humid environments. It’s also commonly known as Golden Lace Orchid.
Unlike common orchids, this orchid prefers shade instead of direct sunlight and is quite easy to propagate! They are pretty compact orchids growing up to 12 to 16 inches tall at maturity. 
Their leaves range with varied patterns and colors from maroon to green to black leaves with red to yellow veins. They are velvety and suede-like to the touch.
If you’ve always wanted an Orchid, but didn’t have enough light, Jewel Orchid is the perfect low-maintenance orchid for you. 
Pro Tip Icon
Fun Fact About Jewel Orchids
Ludisia discolor was used in Hong Kong for medicinal purposes.

Jewel Orchid Plant Care Guide

Botanical Name
Ludisia discolor
Common Name
Jewel Orchid, Golden Lace Orchid
Plant Type
Flowering plant
Growth Rate
Balanced liquid fertilizer or orchid fertilizer
Sun Exposure
Low light, partial shade
Low - 1x a week roughly, let topsoil dry
Soil Type
Well-draining soil w/ perlite, orchid bark. You can use African violet potting mix.
Soil Ph
Acidic 5.5-6
Bulbs (Rhizomes), Cuttings
Bloom Time
Fall, Winter, Early Spring
70-80 degrees Fahrenheit
Window Locations (Ideal)
North-facing windows. They don’t require direct sunlight.
USDA Hardiness Zones
11, 12
Companion Plants
Fittonia, Ferns
Not toxic to dogs, cats, or horses
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Jewel Orchid Varieties

Ludisia discolor or Jewel Orchids come in many different varieties. Some of the most common that you’ll see sold include:
The Black Jewel Orchid (Ludisia discolor ‘Nigrescens’) cultivar features dark black-maroon leaves with pink veins.
Lightning Bolt Jewel orchid (Macodes petola) has deep green leaves with bright yellow leave veins and variegation.
Golden Jewel Orchids are known for their deep green leaves with pink to red veins and variegation.

Jewel Orchid Care Tips

Jewel Orchid has beautiful green leaves with white stripes
Image Source:Photo by Christian Sturzenegger on IstockJewel Orchid has beautiful green leaves with white stripes
Jewel Orchids are easier to care for than other varieties of common Orchids like Moth orchids. In the wild, they grow down low underneath the shade of jungle canopies. This makes it a great orchid to grow in low light conditions or near north-facing windows, but you’ll want to avoid direct sunlight. 
Like other orchids, they have similar watering requirements preferring their soil to be consistently but lightly moist. You’ll want to make sure to plant in well-draining soil to prevent root rot and let the top inch of soil dry in between waterings. 
Given their compact size, Jewel Orchids make great choices for growing in a terrarium especially with the naturally humid conditions terrariums provide.  Let’s dig in about how you can best set up your Jewel Orchid for success.

Setting up a Jewel Orchid Terrarium

Given that Jewel Orchids thrive in low to medium, diffused light environments with high humidity, they make for great plants to grow in terrariums. 
You’ll want a terrarium container that’s at least 6-8” wide to allow room for growth. You’ll have to move them to a larger terrarium as these grow fairly quickly.
Pro Tip Icon
Do it yourself Orchid medium for terrariums. 
To create a DYI Jewel Orchid Terrarium, we recommend using activated charcoal, terrarium soil mix, assorted rocks and pebbles, orchid bark, and some peat moss or lichen. 
While you can plant jewel orchids in a terrarium by themselves, you can also pair with ferns, creeping fig, fittonias or other plants that prefer dryer soil and lower light conditions.

Growing Outdoors

Jewel Orchids are typically grown as ornamental houseplants indoors, but due to their low-maintenance, shade-loving nature, they can make for great groundcovers outdoors.
Jewel orchids can be grown outside year rounds in USDA hardiness Zones 11 and 12. If you’re outside of these zones, you’ll need to overwinter your plant. 
When selecting where to plant your Jewel Orchids outdoors, you’ll want to place them in shady areas such as underneath trees. You’ll also want to keep them away from winds or drafts.
They can also make for great edges or fillers for container planting. If you’d like to pair them with other plants, consider ferns or other shade-loving perennials.

💧 Water

Jewel Orchids, like Phalaenopsis orchids, prefer slightly moist soil. As a general rule of thumb, let the top inch or two of soil dry in between waterings. You’ll likely end up watering it roughly once every week. 
It’s important to plant your orchid in well-draining soil to prevent excessive water buildup. Overwatering and soggy soil can lead to root rot and fungal diseases.
If you’re starting to see yellow leaves, rotting lower leaves, or flower drop, these are all signs that you’re overwatering.
On the other hand, if you’re seeing wilting or stunted growth, it’s likely a sign that you are underwatering and letting the soil dry too much. If you underwater your jewel orchid plant, it’ll cause it to slip into dormancy period preventing blooming!

☀️ Sunlight

Although most orchids require bright light levels to thrive, Jewel Orchids prefer lower light to moderate, indirect sunlight to grow. Overexposure to direct sunlight will cause the leaves to turn red or get scorched.
If you’re growing indoors, you can place your ludisia orchids near north facing windows which receive the least amount of sunlight. East or west-facing windows will also work as they receive bright, indirect light for half of the day. Avoid placing near south-facing windows as those receive direct sunlight. 

🌺 Jewel Orchid Flowers

Jewel Orchids are typically grown for their velvety leaves rather than blooms. However, they produce wonderful white to multi-colored blooms that can last up to a month.
Once they’re ready to grow, Jewel orchids produce flowering spikes that grow upwards rapidly producing flower buds that will open up to showcase white flowers. 

🌡️Temperature and Humidity

Native to the tropics, Jewel orchids thrive best in warm temperatures and high humidity conditions. They grow well in USDA hardiness zones 11 and 12 and prefer temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Most ambient room temperatures will work, but you may want to be mindful during the winter months to keep your indoor temperatures warm enough.
Don’t let the temperature drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for too long as that’ll stunt the growth of your jewel orchid. 
Jewel orchids prefer moderate to high humidity levels. During the winter months, humidity can be lower, so we recommend supplementing by grouping your plants together, using a small humidifier, or placing your jewel orchid plant on top of a pebble tray filled with water. 

🌱 Best Soil For Jewel Orchids

Planting jewel orchids in the right type of potting soil is a critical part of ensuring healthy growth. Overwatering and soggy soil is one of the most common problems with this orchid.
You can use commercial houseplant mix supplemented with perlite and sphagnum moss to help encourage aeration. Jewel orchids are terrestrial orchids growing on forest floors preferring to root in soil rather than on trees or other plants.
Therefore, if you choose to add orchid bark to improve drainage, we don’t recommend adding as much as for a typical orchid. African violet potting mix also works well for these orchids.
Pro Tip Icon
Avoid traditional Orchid potting mixes.
Avoid using traditional orchid potting mixes that are typically made for epiphytic orchids. They contain too much loose material and won’t provide adequate moisture to your Jewel orchid.
Make sure to plant your jewel orchid in a container with drainage holes. They do well in terracotta pots that help wick away excess moisture. 

🌻 Fertilizer

Jewel orchids aren’t heavy feeders, but if you choose, you can feed it with a liquid, balanced fertilizer.
You can opt to use an orchid based fertilizer that’s typically higher in Nitrogen (N in NPK ratio). We always recommend diluting your fertilizer in half and trying on the plant to see how it responds.
If you’re fertilizing, mix your fertilizer with water and spray the leaves and potting mix. Orchids, unlike other houseplants, take nutrition through their leaves (foliar feeders). 

😎 Pruning and Maintenance

Jewel Orchids are fast growers and may need a trim every once in a while especially if you’re growing in a terrarium. 
If your jewel orchid is getting too big for its container, this could be a good time to consider propagating and repotting. You can easily trim the leaves or stems of the Orchid and use these cuttings to propagate.
For general maintenance, we recommend flushing your soil every once in a while especially if you’re frequently fertilizing. Buildup of salts can case leaf burn and root burn issues with this Orchid.
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How to Repot Jewel Orchid

Close up photo if Ludisia discolor orchid leaves in the garden
Image Source:Photo by soniabonet on IstockClose up photo if Ludisia discolor orchid leaves in the garden
You’ll know it’s time to repot your Jewel orchid when you notice its roots poking out of the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot. As a rough rule, Jewel Orchids will need a repotting every two to three years. Repotting is important to not only allow your plant to grow, but also to refresh the soil and nutrients in it. 
To repot, take your plant out of its container.
Prepare a new container roughly 1-2” bigger in diameter and fill it up ⅓ of the way with fresh potting mix.
Shake off excess soil off the roots and inspect the root system. If you see any mushy, brown roots, you’ll want to trim them with sterilized shears. This is a sign of root rot.
Plant your orchid into a new container and backfill with soil.
Deep water after planting to allow your jewel orchid plant to settle into its new container.

How to Propagate Jewel Orchid

Jewel orchids can be easily propagated from cuttings or by division. We’ll cover how you can do both of those below.

Jewel Orchid Propagation By Division

You can easily propagate jewel orchids through pseudo bulb division. To do so, prepare gloves and take your jewel orchid out of the pot. Shake off any loose soil and unbundle the root ball. 
Using a sterilized knife, cut into sections which contain stems with roots attached. Then pot these new plants into peat moss or soil mix and wait for them to root. 

Jewel Orchid Propagation By Stem Cuttings

Propagation by stem cuttings is super easy for a jewel orchid. Just take sterilized garden shears and cut off a stem roughly 2-3 inches in size that contains at least one node (where leaf meets the stem). 
You can then easily place the stem into a pot of soil or peat moss or a glass of water. It’ll take roughly 3-4 weeks for your cutting to root. You can then pot in a jewel orchid friendly potting mix and place in a low light, high humidity location and continue proper care.

How to Fix Jewel Orchid Problems

The beautiful blossoming white flower of Jewel Orchid
Image Source:Photp by Montypeter on IstockThe beautiful blossoming white flower of Jewel Orchid
Jewel orchids can be susceptible to common houseplant problems and pests. In particular, given their finicky water requirements, over or under watering tends to be the most common cause of issues with your Orchid. 
The most common problem with Jewel Orchids is root rot or rhizome rot due to overwatering or improper soil. 

Why is my Jewel Orchid dying? Root Rot

If this is your first time experiencing root rot, read our full guide on root rot.
Root rot is a common issue with most houseplants including Jewel Orchids. It’s usually caused by moist or waterlogged soil for prolonged periods of time. Symptoms can include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and a rotten brown base. If you’re seeing these symptoms, here’s how to treat root rot.
Root Rot Treatment Steps
  • Remove the plant from the pot and gently remove the soil so you can see the root system.
  • If the roots are brown and mushy, you must take action immediately.
  • Clean off the roots with sterile water.
  • Take sterilized scissors and trim any mushy roots.
  • You can use a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to disinfect the roots.
  • Once cleaned up, repot your plant in fresh orchid soil mix.

Jewel Orchid Leaves are Yellow

Yellow leaves are oftentimes a sign of overwatering. If jewel orchid’s roots are left in soggy and poor-draining soil, the leaves will start to turn yellow due to chlorosis. You will see lower leaves start to turn yellow first. You’/ll want to let your top inch or two of soil dry in between waterings.
Make sure you plant your orchid in well draining potting mix with perlite and into a container with drainage holes.

Jewel Orchid Leaves are Curling or Turning Brown

If your Jewel orchid leaves are curling or turning brown, it’s likely a sign of underwatering or dry conditions. Curling leaves are a sign that your plant wants to prevent excessive water loss and is thirsty! You’ll want to make sure you’re watering your orchid frequently enough and not letting all of the soil completely dry out.  Avoid direct sunlight as this can cause moisture loss fairly quickly. 
Brown leaves are usually a symptom of dry environment or low humidity. You’ll want to make sure your environment is consistently humid. Direct sunlight can also cause leaf burn turning your leaves brown.
Less common cause of brown leaves can be due to overfertilization or water quality. If you’ve been fertilizing too frequently, we recommend pausing to let your plant rest. Build up of chemicals such as fluoride from tap water can also cause browning leaves. We recommend to use distilled or rain water in this case.

Jewel Orchid Leaves are Turning Red

Jewel Orchid leaves can turn red when they get too much light. Increase light exposure causes the production of anthocyanins in the leaves which help protect the plant from sun stress and damage. This will often appear as a red discoloration on the leaves. 
Avoid direct sunlight and make sure your orchid is in low to moderate indirect sunlight. We recommend moving a few feet away from the window or adding a sheer curtain.

Mealy Bugs

Are you seeing white fuzz on your orchid leaves? It may be a sign of a mealy bug infestation. Mealybugs are small, white insects that eat away at orchid tenders preferring younger, newer growth like leaves, sheaths, and young flower buds. At first sign of infestation, you’ll want to immediately quarantine your orchid. You can use cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove mealy bugs manually. Do not wipe, remove them.
For a somewhat quicker solution, you can make a mix three parts liquid soap and one part water and use a spray bottle to spray the plant. Leave the solution on there and rinse the plant after 20-30 minutes. You will likely need to repeat this every 3-4 days until your infestation is gone.
For an organic solution, you can also use neem oil. Apply neem oil every seven days by spraying your entire orchid until infestation disappears.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are tiny fruit-fly sized insects that infest moist soil, potting mix and other mediums. They are gray to black-gray in appearance and their long legs and antennae can give them a mosquito like appearance. Because Calatheas love humid environments and moist soil, they can be particularly susceptible to fungus gnat infestations. Although harmless to humans, fungus gnats love to feed on the plants’ thin roots. 
How to spot fungus gnat infestation on my Jewel Orchid?
You’ll find them primarily on the surface of your potted soil.In an early infestation, fungus gnats are unlikely to do much damage. But because fungus gnats reproduce rapidly, laying up to hundreds of eggs on the soil surface, what was once a small infestation can turn into a severe infestation fairly quickly.
Symptoms of a fungus gnat infestation include stunted growth, yellow, or dropping leaves.
The best way to rid of fungus gnats is to use sticky card traps, cider-vinegar traps, or flypaper. These are similar methods to contain fruit flies. 

Spider Mites

Spider mites are ectoparasitic arthropods that feed on plants. They are tiny, but they can be seen with the naked eye.Spider mites attack plants through their leaves, sucking the nutrients out of them. They leave stalks behind as they feed. While feeding, spider mites create webbing, and drain the life from plants causing leaves on infested plants to turn yellow and brown. They can cover and kill an entire plant within a week or two if left uncontrolled in your garden.
If this is your first time managing spider mites, read our in-depth guide on how to get rid of spider mites on indoor plants.
You can get your Jewel orchid from Neverland with complete care and a propagation guide.
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FAQs on Jewel Orchid

Are Jewel orchids easy to grow?
Out of common varieties of orchids, Jewel orchids are on the easier side to grow. Just make sure you don’t use potting mix that’s specially made for epiphytic orchids like Moth orchids, etc.
Why is my Jewel orchid dying?
The most common cause of issues in Jewel orchid is under watering or over watering. These are tropical orchids, so they require consistently humid environments and watering frequency.
Do Jewel orchids go dormant?
Since there orchids are common to grow indoors, they don’t typically go dormant like other Orchid varieties during the winter.
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