Gastrochilus Japonicus is a beautiful species from the Orchidaceae family and is an epiphyte, growing on trees in the mountain forests of Japan and Taiwan. These have a compact shape with citrus fragrance. They can be mounted on slabs, hung next to trees or planted in pots.
About the Genus Gastrochilus
Gastrochilus are beautiful flowering plants from the plant family Orchidaceae. These are dwarf, epiphyte plants and were first classified into a group in the early 1800s by David Don. The genus has about 52 species and all of them are stunningly different from each other. They have a color range starting from yellow to being blotchy, brown-purple. Some of the very popular species include Gastrochilus Bellinus, Gastrochilus Calceolaris, and Gastrochilus Japonicus. They have thick, leathery leaves that are lance-shaped and can grow up to 18 cm (6-7 inches) long. They have shorter stems that hold 6 to 10 leaves which are closely packed together. About 10 to 20 flowers can grow on a blooming inflorescence during the spring and summer season.
Very often, these plants can be confused with the Phalaenopsis species, but the latter has leaves that are longer and narrower in shape so you can differentiate between the two if paid close attention.
Common Names and Synonyms
- The Japan Gastrochilus
- The Yellow Pine Orchid
- Gastrochilus Taiwanianus
- Gastrochilus Holttumianus
- Tamra Gastrochilus
- Saccolabium Japonicum
Origin and Distribution
The name Gastrochilus was derived from the Greek language and means “stomach(gaster)” and “lip(cheilosis)” referring to its usual appearance. This species was first described in 1913 by Rudolf Schlechter. It was found originally in the mountain forests and islands of eastern and southeastern Asia, as well as China, Korea, and Japan along with Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Structure and Features
Foliage and Stem
The plant has thick, leathery leaves that are lance-shaped and grow about 6 to 7 inches long. They grow on short stems and are closely packed together.
Gastrochilus Japonicus plants are evergreen, which means that they maintain their beautiful selves throughout the year, unaffected by the seasons that go by. This is one of the many reasons plant lovers adore this species.
The plants of this particular specie can grow up to a height of 2 to 4 inches, which is not quite as much as the size of some other species of houseplants out there, but it is certainly a tough competitor in terms of colors and beauty.
It requires a minimum of the temperature of 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (or 15 to 18 degrees Celsius) to thrive so it is not exactly the most temperature tolerant plant out there. Extreme temperature can make it look unwell so you might want to shift the plant to a more suitable spot when it tends to get too warm or too cold outside.
In terms of humidity, however, it doesn’t mind an extra percentage of moisture in the air. Occasional misting and an indoor humidifier might even help it grow faster and healthier. Just make you don’t overdo it since excess of moisture on any plant can prove to be more damaging than beneficial.
The flowering plants of this species grow inflorescence which ultimately grows flowers. These flowers grow up to anywhere around 1.5 centimeters to 3 centimeters which is quite impressive considering that the size of the actual plant is pretty small. Each inflorescence bears around 5 to 7 flowers that hang on it with petals light yellow or green-yellow. These have a unique pattern of pink-purple spots on them both, inside and outside. The bag of the lip is colored white and has yellow streaks on it, and red dots near the base. The lip of the lip is green, it is yellow in the middle and has red dots on it.
Considering how comfortable it is with humidity, it will have a hard time living in dry, water-less condition, so no, a Gastrochilus Japonicus is not drought-resistant.
Pressure and Erosion
These plants are as delicate as they look, so stepping on them or putting them under some sort of constant pressure will easily kill them. Thus, make sure it sits high enough in an open space to grow freely.
Disease and Pest
Scales and mealybugs can be occasional visitors with this plant. However, if spotted timely, you may be able to prevent severe damage and get rid of them quickly. Make sure you examine your plant thoroughly every other day while you dust and groom it.
The growth rate of these plants depends on the conditions they are kept in and the care they are given as well as their genetic makeup. However, if they stop growing during the winter season, do not be alarmed, because they tend to “sleep” during that time and it is normal.
Its perennial life cycle makes it a very durable houseplant. It lives for years on end and you do not have to worry about having to replace it any time soon.
One of the many reasons houseplant lovers are drooling over this species is because it is so low-maintenance. Gastrochilus Japonicus culture and care do not require any fancy conditions and is perfect to grow in a regular indoor environment.
During the winter season, the plant stops growing. During this phase, all you need to do is give it water only as needed and avoid fertilizing the plant. Also, be extra cautious not to overwater the plant during this phase, because more water will not “wake up” your plant, instead it will just kill it.
Gastrochilus Japonicus Culture and Care
Moderate indoor conditions with warm temperatures and regular humidity are ideal for this plant to thrive in. You can water it when it looks dry and feed it with a regular nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the growing seasons. You don’t need to groom it very often, however, make sure it stays clean and dry.
These plants love water so you can water them as soon as the soil starts looking dry. Just make sure the soil is not soggy or wet. A water-clogged soil is the last thing you want for this plant. You can check if the plant is ready for the next watering session by touching the soil with your finger or using s moisture meter for added accuracy.
Loose, fast-drying, well-drained soil is ideal for these plants. You can use bark as an amendment with perlite or moss. Adding charcoal further helps with the permeability of the soil. However, stay away from soils that are too sandy or too heavy in texture.
Moderate amounts of indirect, filtered sunlight work best for Gastrochilus plants. You can place them next to a window, behind sheer curtains, to make sure they are not exposed to direct, scorching sunlight that can burn their leaves, or use shade cloth for this purpose. If you don’t have enough natural sunlight entering the house you can always use artificial indoor growing lights.
A minimum of 15 to 18 degrees Celsius is required for this plant to grow, so it does not like the frosty weather. Keep it under warm, room temperature and make sure it does not stay under extreme temperatures like in front of an air conditioner or a fan.
As discussed earlier, these plants love humidity. If your place lacks moisture in the air, you may get an indoor humidifier installed and if not, you can group a couple of water-loving plants. This is a good trick to increase humidity around a plant that loves humidity. Misting may also prove to be beneficial if done right. Just don’t let water sitting on the surface of the plant for too long as that can invite annoying bugs and diseases.
During the growing seasons (summer and spring) you can feed your plants with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. However, during the late summer and autumn, you want to shift to a fertilizer that is rich in phosphorus.
You can repot these plants when it shows signs of a disease or infection or when you think it is outgrowing its current pot. It is best to do this during the spring or summer season and not during the dormancy phase. Interestingly enough, these plants adapt to their new soil pretty quickly.
Grooming and Pruning
Regular grooming may not be a requirement, however, you must keep your plant clean and dry. Dust and moisture build-up can attract pests and diseases so you want to stay clear of that!
Gastrochilus Japonicus Propagation
Gastrochilus Japonicus are endangered orchid species so they are reproduced in vitro propagations under special conditions of intense light and temperature.
Displaying a Gastrochilus Japonicus Plant
Because of their unique appearance, these plants are very versatile and easy to display. Their environmental needs make them ideal to be kept indoors so putting them against a plain wall or in an empty corner of a room will instantly brighten up your place. A colorful room, however, might not be the best for it as its color would simply blend into the surroundings and not pop as much. It brings an instant colorful, aesthetic look to your monochrome interiors and its small size makes it easy for you to put it on a shelf, in small corners, hang it against a wall or move it around the house to whichever place you think it looks best in.
Gastrochilus Japonicus are beautiful, colorful plants that look gorgeous sitting in your living room, on top of your coffee table or next to the window. They are very easy to grow indoors and only require moderate amounts of food and water under natural, filtered sunlight and warm temperatures. They are however endangered and are not propagated at home, neither are they edible for sure, so you might want to keep them away from the reach of your pets and children.