Jewel Orchid (Ludisia discolor): The Complete Growing & Care Guide

Jewel orchid Ludisia discolor


Plant Type: Terrestrial Orchid
Family: Orchidaceae
Sun Exposure: Low to Medium, Indirect Light
Watering: Moderate, Allow to Dry Between Waterings
Colors: Dark Green Leaves with Red to Purple Undertones, White Flowers
Size: Foliage can reach 10 inches (25 cm); flower spikes up to 24 in (60 cm)
Hardiness Zones: 11-12
Soil Type: Orchid Potting Mix, Well-Draining
Soil pH: Neutral to Slightly Acidic (6.1 – 7.5)
Propagation: Stem Cuttings
Toxicity: Non-Toxic to Pets and Humans

Jewel orchid (Ludisia discolor), known for its eye-catching foliage rather than its flowers, has become increasingly popular among plant enthusiasts. These tropical rainforest plants, native to Southern Asia, are terrestrial, which sets them apart from many other orchid species since they grow in the soil instead of as epiphytes. As houseplants, jewel orchids are prized for their striped, velvety leaves and small white flowers, offering a unique aesthetic to any indoor setting.

Understanding the specific care requirements of Ludisia discolor will lead to healthy growth and long-lasting beauty. Easy to maintain, they thrive in shady environments with high humidity, making them well-suited for indoor cultivation. The terrestrial nature of these plants implies that they need a different care routine compared to their epiphytic relatives, which often grow in orchid bark potting mixes.

This article will explore the essential care tips for nurturing Ludisia discolor, diving into the cultivation techniques necessary for success. By following the guidelines provided, even novice plant lovers can enjoy the exquisite charm that these unique orchids bring to any indoor space.

Jewel Orchids, native to Southern Asia, are unique terrestrial plants known for their striking foliage and small white flowers. Unlike many orchids, they grow in soil and thrive in shady, humid environments.

Jewel Orchid Overview

  • Ludisia Discolor, also known as the Jewel Orchid, is a terrestrial plant native to tropical forests in South Asia, including areas in China, India, Myanmar, and Thailand. This eye-catching houseplant is simple and easy to care for, and with proper attention, a mature Ludisia Discolor can produce multiple growths and spread out over several years.
  • Black Jewel Orchid (Anoectochilus formosanus) is another terrestrial orchid variety that stands out for its dark, velvety leaves with contrasting venation. The leaves are usually green to black with striking silver, white, or gold veins, giving this Ludisia discolor its popular name. The plant is known for its delicate, small flowers that typically bloom in the summer months.
  • Golden Lace Orchid (Macodes petola) is a stunning member of the Jewel Orchid family, characterized by bright golden venation on dark green leaves. This terrestrial orchid is native to Southeast Asia and requires a warm, humid environment to thrive. It is a sought-after plant among orchid collectors for its iridescent and intricate leaf patterns.
  • Ludisia Discolor Alba is a unique variety that exhibits a more subdued coloration compared to its relatives. The leaves are predominantly green with faint white venation, creating a sophisticated appearance. This orchid variety is known for its ability to adapt well to indoor conditions, making it a popular choice for home gardens and interior decor.


The Jewel Orchid family includes unique terrestrial plants like Ludisia Discolor, Black Jewel Orchid, Golden Lace Orchid, and Ludisia Discolor Alba. Native to South and Southeast Asia, these orchids are known for their striking leaf patterns and adaptability to indoor conditions, making them popular houseplants.

Jewel Orchid Care

Jewel orchids are exquisite tropical plants native to Southeast Asia. They can be grown indoors as houseplants and are admired for their unique leaf patterns. Caring for these delicate plants requires the right balance of light, humidity, soil, and temperature.

Light Requirements

Ludisia discolor thrive in environments with indirect sunlight. As forest floor plants, they are accustomed to bright but filtered light. To avoid sun damage, ensure they are placed in a sheltered location away from direct sunlight. Remember:

  • Indirect sunlight is optimal
  • Avoid direct sun exposure

Watering and Humidity

To mimic their natural habitat, jewel orchids require a humid environment with regular watering; however, it is essential not to overwater them to prevent root rot. Follow these watering tips:

  • Water when the potting mix partially dries
  • Maintain at least 50 percent humidity

Soil and Fertilization

A well-draining, porous soil is crucial for jewel orchid care. Here are some soil tips:

  • Use an orchid mud mix or a mix containing African violet soil
  • Opt for wide, shallow pots to allow for better drainage
  • Fertilize every two to four weeks during the summer months
  • Limit fertilization during cooler months

Temperature and Air Circulation

Ludisia discolor thrive in a warm environment with proper air circulation. Keep these temperature tips in mind:

  • Maintain a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F (21°C – 26°C)
  • Provide gentle air circulation for healthier growth

By properly attending to these key factors, you can enjoy the beauty of a thriving plant in your home.


Jewel Orchids, native to Southeast Asia, require specific care for healthy growth. They thrive in indirect sunlight, high humidity, and regular watering. A well-draining soil, such as an orchid mix, is crucial, along with regular fertilization. They prefer a warm environment with good air circulation.

Growing Jewel Orchids From Seeds

Growing jewel orchids (Ludisia Discolor) from seeds can be a rewarding process, especially for those who appreciate their unique foliage and patterns. This terrestrial orchid can be grown indoors as a houseplant, making it an excellent addition to your collection.

To start growing your plant from seeds, follow these steps:

  1. Seed procurement: Obtain fresh, high-quality seeds from a reputable source. Seed viability is crucial for successful germination.
  2. Choosing the right medium: Jewel orchids grow in regular potting soil, not orchid potting bark. A recommended mix is two parts houseplant soil and one part perlite, or alternatively, an African violet mix. This provides the right balance of aeration and drainage, mimicking the orchid’s natural environment.
  3. Sowing the seeds: Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the surface of the dampened medium in a shallow container. Do not bury the seeds, as they require light to germinate. Cover the container with a clear plastic lid or bag to maintain humidity.
  4. Proper environment: Provide a warm and humid environment with temperatures between 70-80°F (21-27°C), and maintain high humidity levels. A bright, indirect light is essential for jewel orchids, as direct sunlight can damage the leaves.
  5. Monitoring: Keep an eye on the moistness of the growing medium, never allowing it to dry out completely, but also be cautious not to over-water. Germination can take up to 4 weeks, so be patient.
  6. Transplanting: Once the seedlings have several leaves, transplant them into individual pots using the same soil mix you used for germination. Be gentle with the delicate roots and ensure the new pots have adequate drainage.

Remember to provide the right care as the plant grow:

  • Maintain high humidity levels by misting regularly or using a humidity tray.
  • Keep the plant in a sheltered location away from direct sunlight to prevent sun damage.
  • Water the plant as needed to avoid root rot, allowing the medium to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Fertilize sparingly, using an orchid or houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength every 2-4 weeks during the active growing season.


Growing Jewel Orchids from seeds involves procuring viable seeds, sowing them in a suitable medium like houseplant soil with perlite, and maintaining a warm, humid environment with indirect light. After germination, seedlings are transplanted into individual pots. Care includes regular misting, sheltered light, careful watering, and diluted fertilization.

Propagation Methods

Jewel orchid Ludisia discolor

Ludisia discolor are known for their ease of propagation, with several methods available to gardeners and plant enthusiasts.

  • Cuttings: One of the primary methods for propagating Jewel Orchids is through stem cuttings. This method involves the following steps:
  1. Choose a healthy, mature plant with good foliage and growth.
  2. Cut a 10cm (4 inch) section of the stem with a sharp, sterile tool, keeping at least 2-3 nodes in the cutting.
  3. Cauterize the cut end of the stem with either brilliant green or coal, to prevent infection and rot.
  4. Immediately plant the cutting in moist sphagnum moss or a well-draining potting mix suitable for orchids.
  5. Place the pot in indirect light, and maintain high humidity by lightly misting the cutting daily.
  • Division: An alternative method for propagating Ludisia discolor is through division. This approach involves removing and replanting a section of the plant’s root system. Here are the steps for successful division:
  1. Carefully remove the Jewel Orchid plant from its container, and gently untangle the roots.
  2. Identify a healthy section of the root system, and use a sterile knife or scissors to separate it from the main plant.
  3. Plant the root division in a fresh orchid potting medium, making sure to select a pot that accommodates the size of the division.
  4. Place the potted division in indirect light, and lightly mist the potting mix and stems daily.
  5. Refrain from watering until a new leaf appears, and avoid fertilizing until new roots develop.
  • Water propagation is another popular and accessible method for propagating Jewel. To use this method, follow these steps:
  1. Take a stem cutting, as described in the cuttings method.
  2. Place the cut end of the stem in a jar of water, submerging approximately half the length of the cutting.
  3. Keep the jar in a location with bright, indirect light.
  4. Monitor the water level and replace it when it becomes cloudy to maintain freshness.
  5. Wait for roots to form on the submerged section of the cutting, then transplant the cutting into a suitable potting mix.


Jewel Orchids can be propagated through cuttings, division, and water propagation. Cuttings involve planting a section of the stem in a suitable medium. Division requires separating a part of the plant’s root system and replanting it. Water propagation involves rooting a stem cutting in water before transplanting. All methods require indirect light, high humidity, and careful monitoring.

Jewel Orchid Flower

Jewel orchid

Blooming Cycle

The Ludisia discolor is loved primarily for its striking foliage; however, it also produces delicate flowers during its blooming season. Typically, jewel orchids bloom between autumn and winter, with small white flowers appearing on long, slender stems. Although not as showy as some other orchids, these flowers add an elegant touch to the overall beauty of the plant. It’s essential to maintain proper care to encourage blooming, which includes providing a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F (21°C – 26°C) and ample humidity of at least 50%.


In their native habitat in Southeast Asia, they are naturally pollinated by insects attracted to their flowers. As houseplants, it is much less common for natural pollination to occur. Nonetheless, enthusiasts can attempt pollination by hand using a small brush or cotton swab to transfer pollen from one flower to another. This can encourage the production of seed pods, which can then be used for propagation.

Adequate humidity, temperature, and soil conditions for the new plants to thrive. To promote healthy growth, remember to water moderately when the potting mix partially dries and fertilize every two to four weeks during summer.


Jewel Orchids bloom between autumn and winter, producing delicate white flowers. While natural pollination is rare in houseplants, manual pollination can be attempted.

Common Pests and Diseases

Jewel orchids, like other plants, can be affected by various pests and diseases. Keeping a watchful eye on your jewel orchid and maintaining proper care can minimize the risk of these unwelcome visitors. However, if you do encounter pests or diseases, it’s crucial to act swiftly to prevent them from causing severe damage to your plant.

Some of the common pests that may infest jewel orchids are:

  • Spider Mites: These tiny creatures are related to ticks and spiders. They suck the sap from the leaves and stems, causing the plant to become weak and unhealthy. To control spider mite infestations, you can use natural remedies like neem oil or an insecticidal soap.
  • Fungus Gnats: These small flying insects lay their eggs in the soil, and their larvae can damage the roots of your plant. To get rid of them, allow the top layer of soil to dry out between watering, and use a fine layer of sand to cover the soil.
  • Mealybugs: These soft-bodied insects feed on the sap from leaves and stems, resulting in weakened plants. To control mealybugs, dab affected areas with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or apply an insecticidal soap.

In addition to these pests, jewel orchids can also be affected by several diseases such as:

  • Botrytis: This fungal disease causes grayish-brown spots on the leaves, which eventually spread and destroy the entire leaf. High humidity and poor air circulation can encourage the growth of botrytis. To prevent it, ensure proper air circulation around your plant and avoid overwatering.
  • Southern Blight: This soil-borne fungus causes the orchid to wilt and collapse. To prevent southern blight, avoid reusing potting media and sterilize tools between handling different plants.
  • Powdery Mildew: This fungal infection appears as white powdery spots on the leaves and can cause them to become distorted. To treat powdery mildew, remove affected leaves and apply a fungicide suitable for orchids.


Jewel Orchids can be affected by pests like spider mites, fungus gnats, and mealybugs, which weaken the plant by feeding on its sap. Diseases include botrytis, southern blight, and powdery mildew, which cause leaf damage and wilting. Prevention and treatment involve maintaining proper care, using natural remedies or fungicides, and ensuring good air circulation and appropriate watering.


Are Jewel Orchids fast growing?

Jewel Orchids, specifically Ludisia discolor, are not particularly fast-growing plants. Their growth rate is moderate, and they tend to focus more on expanding their foliage rather than growing in height. However, with the right care and conditions, such as adequate light, humidity, and proper watering, you can encourage healthier and more robust growth.

How much light do Jewel Orchids need?

They prefer low to medium light conditions. They are native to tropical forest floors, so they’re used to being under the canopy of larger plants and trees. Direct sunlight can scorch their leaves, so it’s best to place them in a location with filtered or indirect light. If you notice the stems becoming leggy, it might be a sign that your orchid needs a bit more light.

How do you make a jewel orchid bushier?

To encourage a bushier growth in Ludisia discolor, you can employ a technique called pinching. This involves removing the growing tip of the plant to encourage it to branch out. However, be careful not to overdo it, as excessive pinching can stress the plant. Also, ensure that the plant is in optimal health before you begin pinching, as a weak or sick plant may not respond well to this technique.

Are Jewel Orchids slow growing?

While Jewel Orchids aren’t the fastest growers, they wouldn’t typically be classified as slow-growing either. Their growth rate is moderate, and they tend to spread out more horizontally than vertically. Factors such as light, temperature, humidity, and proper care can influence their growth rate. With optimal care, you can expect your plant to grow steadily and healthily.

How do you make a jewel orchid bushy?

To encourage a bushier growth in Ludisia discolor you can employ a technique called pinching. This involves removing the growing tip of the plant to encourage it to branch out. However, be careful not to overdo it, as excessive pinching can stress the plant. Also, ensure that the plant is in optimal health before you begin pinching, as a weak or sick plant may not respond well to this technique.

How rare are Jewel Orchids?

Jewel Orchids, particularly the Ludisia discolor variety, are not extremely rare but are less common than some other types of orchids. They are prized for their beautiful foliage rather than their flowers, which sets them apart from most other orchid varieties. Some types of Ludisia discolor, like the Macodes petola, are considered rare due to their unique lightning bolt pattern on the leaves and are highly sought after by plant collectors.

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