Bulbophyllum Medusae plants are epiphytic plants from the family of orchids. They have interesting foliage consisting of single leaves and flowers that have a threadlike appearance. This particular feature is why it is known as Medusa. It got its name from the famous Gorgon Medusa of Greek mythology because its flowers have long sepals that resemble her snake hair. Even though they look pretty displayed in a living room, their odor is not very popular among some house plant owners.
- Family: Orchidaceae
- Subfamily: Epidendroideae
- Genus: Bulbophyllum
About the Genus Bulbophyllum
The Bulbophyllum plant gets its name from the Greek language, in which “bulbo” was means bulb, and “phylon” means leaf. This name is derived from the fact that these plants grow with pseudobulbs. The genus was first officially described in 1922 by Louis Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars when he mentioned the plant in his book alongside 18 of its species. Now, there are over 2800 recorded species of the Bulbophyllum genus. These make up the largest genus of the orchid plant family and are mostly epiphytic plants and orchids. Some of the most popular species include Bulbophyllum Maquilingense and Bulbophyllum Medusae.
Common Names and Synonyms
- Medusa Orchid
- Medusa’s Bulbophyllum
Origin and Distribution:
These plants are diverse in terms of their habitats. Bulbophyllum Medusae plant is found growing at altitudes up to 1300 feet, around Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, and Sumatra.
Bulbophyllum Medusae Plant Features
Foliage and Stem
This plant consists of pseudobulbs that are the size of a walnut. Each pseudobulb has a single leaf that develops from its top and grows as long as 3.9 inches. These leaves are stiff and dark green.
If you plan to gift this plant to someone or display it around your own house as an ornament plant, you will be very pleased to know that these plants are evergreen in nature and stay fresh and beautiful throughout the year if given the right Bulbophyllum Medusae care and environment.
These plants are generally small in size and they like to grow on the trunks of trees as well as their main branches.
These Medusa orchids have a high tolerance when it comes to warmer climates. However, they do not respond well to cold, so keep them away from the lower temperatures and shift them to a more suitable spot during the winter season.
These plants love moisture in the air and have a high humidity tolerance. You can put some extra effort to add humidity around them. Just make sure that this moisture does not stay on their surface for long because that can invite bugs and diseases.
Bulbo Medusae plants grow flowers on the tip of their stems during their blooming season. These flowers are cream-yellow and have threadlike sepals that grow outwards, hanging down. They are about 15 centimeters long. These flowers give off an unpopular, disturbing smell.
Considering that these plants love humidity in the air and regular watering, they are not very drought-resistant and will not do well under water-deficient circumstances. Even though they might not die instantly, they will start to look unwell pretty quickly. So make sure that you keep them well hydrated all the time.
Bulbo Medusae plants are not pressure tolerant so if you accidentally step on them or put them in a small space where other objects might exert constant pressure on them, they will be damaged and their growth may be affected. So, make sure that you keep your plant high up or somewhere safe from being trampled.
Disease and Pest Resistance
Unfortunately, these plants are not disease-free. The most common Bulbophyllum diseases include Bacterial Soft Spot, Fungal Crown Rot, and Bacterial Brown Spot.
Bacterial Soft Spot, also known as Erwinia, looks like a wet spot on the leaf of the plant. The leaf will smell bad, and the infected area will increase in size over a matter of days.
Fungal Crown Rots are also very common among orchids. It starts as a discoloration on the surface of the leaves and stems and can ultimately kill the plant if not taken care of. These fungi mostly target overwatered, excessively moist plants living in colder temperatures.
Last but not least, Bacterial Brown Spot is similar to the Bacterial soft spot. The leaf turns brown and expands over days until it eventually starts smelling bad and secreting a dark liquid.
If given the right care and environment, these plants can grow fairly quickly. However, if their growth decreases or stops during the winter seasons, it is a completely natural phenomenon in some plants. So, do not be alarmed. Try not to over water or overfeed your plant in the struggle to make them grow faster. Care for them as required and let them come back to their normal growth rate.
It is not for sure whether or not Bulbophyllum Medusae plants are toxic to pets and children. However, it is still best that you keep the plant away from them. Even if the plant is not toxic itself, it might hold many kinds of germs, bacteria, and poisonous substances on its surface. These secondary poisons can also result in mild to severe physical symptoms.
Because these plants are perennials, they are very durable and you do not have to worry about them dying for at least a couple of years.
House plant enthusiasts adore this species because of how beautiful yet low maintenance it is. So if you are a beginner at growing plants, this one can be your first.
Whether or not these plants go into dormancy is a debatable topic. However, the change in temperatures is what stimulates their growth. So, keep the plant well-hydrated and well-fed at all times. Feed it and water it when needed and do not overdo it. During the cold, winter seasons, their water and food requirements may slightly decrease. If this happens, it is suggested that you do not groom or propagate them during this time.
Bulbophyllum Medusae Care
The best way to grow these orchid plants is to water them regularly and mist them whenever needed. Keep the plants hydrated and well-fed. Put them under warm temperatures and shady environments. Groom and re-pot them as you wish. Your plant will grow fast and healthy.
These plants love water, so make sure that their soil remains moist at all times. However, there is a thin line between being moist and being soggy or wet. If your soil becomes water clogged, the plant will instantly start to wilt and its growth will slow down dramatically. To avoid this, make sure that you only water your plant once the soil becomes almost completely dry. Touch the soil with your fingertips and feel the texture to make sure it is ready to be watered again. You can also use moisture meters to be even more precise.
You can pot these Bulbophyllum Medusae plants in sphagnum moss, fine bark or coconut husk. You could even mount them on to a big piece of cork.
Just remember that their watering and misting needs will change according to how you grow them. A mounted Medusae will require more frequent misting than the one potted in soil.
Indirect light to partial shade is best for these plants. Avoid putting them under the direct sunlight because that can cause sunburn and damage their leaves. It is advised that you put the plant in a well-lit room with lots of diffused sunlight coming through for 10 to 12 hours a day. Also, make sure that you keep rotating the plant so that all parts of it get an equal amount of light and grow in equal symmetry.
If the rhizome between two pseudobulbs starts to grow longer and longer, it means that the plant is not getting enough sunlight and it is trying to reach out for more of it. If this is the case, shift the plant to a more suitable spot immediately.
This species prefers warmer temperatures to live in. The ideal range would be 19 to 26 degrees Celsius. However, cooler temperatures tend to make this plant upset. So make sure you shift it to a warmer or more suitable spot during the colder seasons.
Just as in their soil, these plants like moisture on their surface as well. During the warm or winter days, it is advised that you mist these plants once in a while, as needed. If you live in a relative dryer area, installing an indoor humidifier will also be beneficial for your Bulbophyllum plants. If not, you can group a bunch of moisture-loving plants. This is a good trick to increase the humidity level around these plants collectively.
These orchids like to be well-fed throughout the year. Feed them with liquid orchid fertilizers after every 4 to 5 watering sessions. Make sure you read the recommended doses written on the package and only feed the plant what it needs. If you over-feed the Bulbophyllum, it will start to look unwell.
These plants do not prefer frequent repotting so you can leave them alone for a couple of years after planting them. However, if the plant has somehow outgrown its current pot, replant it preferably during the spring and summer seasons because those are the “growing seasons” for the plant. Simply, take out the Medusae from its current pot, brush off the excess soil, and clean the roots. Now, replant it into a different, bigger pot, and let it grow.
Grooming and Pruning
It is a good idea that you keep these plants clean and dry at all times. Groom them by removing dead or diseased leaves from the bottom of the plant so that they look healthy and neat all through the year. Take this opportunity to keep an eye out for any abnormalities indicating pests and diseases.
Cultivation and Propagation
These plants are known to be moderate to difficult in terms of propagating at home. Since they require a particular environment to grow, cultivating them outside a greenhouse is a challenge.
Displaying Bulbophyllum Medusae Plant
These beautiful plants are known to resemble fireworks and chandeliers when hung and displayed. However, many people have a problem with the way a Medusa plant smells, so they do not like to put this plant inside their rooms where they can smell it. If this is the case, you can plant these orchids in your backyard, your balcony, or in your indoor garden. Since they do not like a lot of direct sunlight you can put them pretty much anywhere around the house. You can mount them, pot them, or hang them as you please.
Bulbophyllum Medusae for Sale
When looking to buy one of these, make sure you check and examine the plant thoroughly because its leaves and unusual flowers help it hide any problems it may have. Look around and under the sepals and stems to make sure there are no abnormal spots or patches anywhere. Check for any signs of insects and infections, as well.
Bulbophyllum Medusae plants are beautiful epiphytic orchids that look like a chandelier in your living room. You can put them in soil or mount them onto cork. They are easy to display and take care of. Their toxicity is still under debate. However, just to be safe, you should keep them away from your pets and children. Some people find the smell of a Bulbophyllum Medusa rather unsettling, so it depends on your personal preference whether you will like it or not.