The Encyclia cordigera is a sympodial epiphyte orchid species found in Central and South America. It is one of the most sought after Encyclia varieties of the orchid world, due to its unique flower shape and remarkable fragrance.
Blooms are about 6-7 cm long and 4-5 cm in length. The petals and sepals have a chocolate color and tend to curve towards the front. The lip is purple or pink and is wider than the petals and tends to flow downwards, giving the impression that the bloom displays a skirt. There are variations within the species, some varieties might have darker petals and a full purple lip and others might have a pink lip with purple veins, or a white lip with dot of purple in the upper center. There is also an Alba form, which has green petals and a wide skirt.
The Encyclia cordigera is not only known for its beautiful flowers, but also its remarkable fragrance. The common opinion is that this orchid smells like chocolate or cocoa, but as fragrance is something that we all perceive differently, there are reports of this orchid smelling like a combination of chocolate and roses, or other flowers. This will have to be something for everyone to discover.
The fragrance is most powerful in the morning time and, with some varieties, tends to fade towards the afternoon or night time. After opening, each flower can take 1 or 2 days to develop a fragrance.
Blooms are displayed on a flower spike which can measure about 30 cm in height. Each spike is produced on top of a pseudobulb and can hold 4 to 10 flowers. The spike starts to grow when a new pseudobulb is near maturity and the orchid only produces one flower spike per pseudobulb. At first, the orchid can produce a short sheath from which the spike will emerge. The sheath can remain inactive until the spring before it grows and produces flowers. It can take about 8 weeks for a flower spike to mature and bloom.
The flower spike is quite thin, fragile and flexible, staking is, in some cases, necessary to protect it from being damaged. Flowers last for about 2-3 months. This orchid usually blooms once per year in the spring and summer.
The Encyclia cordigera is a sympodial orchid that produces short, round pseudobulbs. With good care and hydration they can become very plump and take the shape of an egg or an onion. The pseudobuolbs are medium green and glossy.
On top of each mature pseudobulb there are 2 to 3 leaves, measuring about 3 cm in width and 20 cm in length, reminding of Cattleya orchid leaves.
After blooms fade, this orchid usually starts to produce new growth at the base of the newest pseudobulb. This growth will take about 6-9 months to mature. Normally the orchid will produce one pseudoblub in one year, for each direction of growth.
The roots are thin and healthy roots are white. When in active growth they have bright green tips. The new growth will start to produce roots when the pseudobulbs is mature. When grown in bright light, the pseudobulbs and leaves can display a purple hint, like a tan.
The growth pattern of this orchid is pretty linear, so when repotting it is best to place the new growth towards the center of the pot, while the old pseudobuolbs are placed at the edge of the pot.
Soft spots: wrinkly pseudobulbs if not watered in time, mealy bugs
Overall this orchid is an easy orchid to grow. Its care resembles Cattleya orchids and is quite resilient in the unfortunate event of root loss.
Encyclia cordigera Basic care:
Light: Bright to very bright
Humidity: Tolerant to low humidity, over 40% ideal
Water: Let the media dry between waterings
Growth cycle: not deciduous, does not require a winter rest, does not regularly shed leaves, can bloom all year round