How I Got Tiger Orchid or Grammatophyllum Speciosum Plant To Bloom
Our Tiger Orchid plant (grammatophyllum speciosum) blooms only once and that was way back in year 2000. It was a real pleasure to see the flowering stalks as we had this plant for almost 20 years before we got it to flower.
We almost gave up on ever seeing it blooms, but I was determined to give it another try, and thank God I did.
So if you had difficulty in nursing your grammatophyllum speciosum to bloom, do not give up as you will never quite know what you're going to get, but rest assured, you won't be disappointed.
Just like you, I tried several commercial chemical fertilizers, but without success. Finally, I decided to experiment with a few concoctions of organic fertilizers and voila! I was lucky as within two months it started to produce four flowering stalks.
Before I share with you on this success story, let's take a quick look at Tiger Orchid.
What is Tiger Orchid?
Tiger orchid is the world's largest orchid plant and blooms only once every three to four years. Unfortunately for some of us, this is not the case. It may take even longer time to bloom!
Its yellow colored flowers with dark red spots can grow up to 3.9 inch (10 cm) in diameter, and is the largest orchid flower in the world. Its flowering stalk can bear up to 80 flowers and remain in bloom for up to two months.
The flower has a mild and pleasant fragrance that smells like a cross between jasmine and ylang-ylang flowers.
The name 'Tiger Orchid' is used for other orchid varieties as well, namely Maxillaria, which is native to tropical and subtropical America, and Rossioglossum grande, which is native to Mexico and Honduras.
The Tiger Orchid that I am referring to in this article is Grammatophyllum Speciosum, which is native to Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and New Guinea.
What do Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium in Fertilizers do for Plants?
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium or N-P-K are commonly used in fertilizer and each has a different function to play to promote plant growth.
In simple terms, nitrogen is good for green leafy growth, phosphorus is good for root and shoot development, and potassium helps promote flowering and fruiting
Things that I Used as Organic Fertilizer for Tiger Orchid
There are many items that you can use as organic fertilizers. Some items can be bought off the shelf and some are available in your own kitchen or even backyard.
I used the following items which are a combination of things that I have to buy and things that I recycled from our daily use.
1. Chicken and Goat Manure
I used goat and chicken manures in dried and pelleted form as part of my organic fertilizer concoction for my Tiger Orchids (grammatophyllum speciosums).
These manures are packed and sold under various proprietary names. Some of these brands are mixed with other ingredients that do little to add potency to the manure, i.e. the percentage of the actual goat and chicken manure in the pack is probably too low.
I got mine from the Thursday night market in Keramat, Kuala Lumpur and even though it has no propriety name and no nutrient content quoted, it is reliable and worked very well on my plants.
Chicken manure tend to be higher in nitrogen and although actual nutrient contents can vary, on average the composition for the dried and pelleted form is about N 4%, P 2% and K 1% i.e. nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium respectively.
The dried and pelleted goat manure is about N 1.5%, P 1.0%, and K 1.8%, i.e. higher in potassium, which is useful for flowering.
My Tiger Orchid BloomingClick thumbnail to view full-size
2. Tea Water as Fertilizer
I recycle used tea bags by soaking it in water for a few days and then use it to water the Tiger Orchid plant. Tea is rich in nitrogen and potassium, which are useful ingredients for plant growth and flowering.
So instead of using plain water to water the plant, using tea water that is rich in nutrients will not only recycle your used tea bags or tea leaves into something useful, but will give you joy and happiness when you see good plant growth and beautiful flowers.
My Other Article on Gardening
If you want to know how I planted Plumeria or Frangipani from seeds, then click on the link.
3. Rice Water as Fertilizer
Rice water is another nutrient-rich water that I used to water and fertilize my Tiger Orchid.
If you cook rice on a regular basis, the water that you use to wash the rice before cooking can be recycled as fertilizer.
The water has traces of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid, which are necessary for healthy plant growth. It is even more effective if you put it aside for a day for it to ferment, before watering the Tiger Orchid plant.
Some people use water that rice has been boiled in, but I find it a hassle and prefer the water that you use to wash or rinse the rice before cooking.
Which type of rice; brown or normal white rice is better? Although brown rice contains higher dosage of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid, I use white basmati rice because that is what we use in our cooking. So if you eat brown rice, then you get better quality rice water for your orchid.
4. Banana Peels as Fertilizer
We have bananas almost every day for breakfast and I use the banana peels, which is rich in phosphorus and potassium, as fertilizer for the tiger orchids.
I will either mashed or blend it and mixed it to either the tea water or rice water, before watering the plant.
Banana peels will not only promote flowering, but will give strong colors to your flowers.
Organic Fertilizer Concoction
The above are the only stuffs that I used as organic fertilizer for my Tiger Orchid plant.
When I first used them way back in year 2000, I did not give this organic concoction much credit, when the plant started to flower. But when I started to use it again after a long spell of almost 13 years and it blooms again, I was dead certain that this 'recipe' works and is responsible for the Tiger orchid to bloom again.
My Tiger Orchid, Stages of FloweringClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cat Litters as Fertilizer for Tiger Orchids
When a friend heard about my organic fertilizer concoction, and saw the blooms, he told me my result was not as spectacular as his.
I agreed. The first time my Tiger Orchid bloomed, it had four flowering stalks. However, this time around in 2014, it produced only one flowering stalk. Although the result is not that impressive, I am still proud as I could get it to flower.
My friend used cat litters as his 'organic fertilizer' and had more flowering stalks and better and bigger flowers.
It may sounds disgusting to some of you, but to him instead of throwing away the used litter, which is rich in nitrogen from the cat urine, he might as well put it to good use in his garden.
He was not worried about pathogens from the poop, as free range cat will deposit them in the garden anyway. To him, it is also 'free' and it costs him 'nothing' as he has to buy the litter for the cat anyhow.
I have not tried this, but I have seen the results and I have to admit, it is more impressive.
How to Apply These Organic Fertilizers
Applying the Goat and Chicken Manure to Tiger Orchid
I apply the goat and chicken manure on alternate weekly basis. Before sprinkling the pellets over the root system, I water the plant first. This will thoroughly wet the roots for easier absorption of the nutrients.
After sprinkling the pellets, I water the plant again, directing the water to where the pellets are.
If you intend to use cat litters as your 'organic fertilizer' for your Tiger Orchid, you can apply the same application method. However, you will have to use more water after putting the litter, so as to dilute the 'waste' especially the urine or ammonia in the litter.
Applying Rice Water to Grammatophyllum Speciosum, or Tiger Orchid
As we eat rice every day, we have daily supply of rice water. I do not use it immediately, but will leave it overnight and use it to water the Tiger Orchid plant in the morning.
This short 'fermentation' period helps convert the rice water into fertilizer.
If we have banana peels, we will either mash or blend it and mix it to this rice water, which will then be used to water the Tiger Orchid plant.
Applying Tea Water to Tiger Orchid
As mentioned earlier, I will recycle tea leaves and tea bags by soaking it in water for at least three days.
I then use it to water the plant in the evening. As we do not drink tea on a regular basis, the supply of tea water is not as frequent as rice water. Hence, the evening watering is only when I have tea water.
I will also mix this tea water with the mashed banana peels, when it is available.
On the days that I apply the goat or chicken manure, I will not use the rice and tea water.
Have You Ever Seen Tiger Orchid Blooms in Person?
Flush the Plant Roots with Water
I flush out the plant's root with plain water at quarterly interval to remove any possible accumulation of mineral salts.
Although the accumulation of mineral salts is associated more with chemically processed fertilizers, I still do regular flushing, just in case. However, soluble salts are also present in tap water that you use to water the plant!
The danger of salts build up, if it is not flushed away, is the harm it will do to your tiger orchid plant. Its sensitive feeder roots can burn away from any high salt concentration. The damaged root will start to rot, and will slowly kill the plant.
During the rainy season, I will skip this as the rainwater will hopefully flush out these salts.
Try this Organic Fertilizer Concoction
If you had difficulty in getting your Tiger Orchid to bloom, try this organic fertilizer concoction. I am sure you will experience the same results as I had.
If you have cats, you may want to try the 'used cat litter' fertilizer that my friend did to his Tiger Orchids. Share your experience by coming back to this post, and tell us what happened to your Tiger Orchids.
Guide to Orchid Growing from Amazon
More Info on Tiger Orchid (Grammatophyllum Speciosum)
Tiger Orchid (Grammatophyllum Speciosum) not only produces the largest orchid flower in the world, but is also the heaviest orchid plant in the world. It can weigh up to a ton (907 kg) or more.
The plant has an impressive root bundles and the pseudobulbs (cane-like stems) can grow to 9.8 feet (3 m) or more. In its natural habitat in the jungles of Southeast Asia, it grows on other trees for support. It is not parasitic, but is self-sustaining for its nutrients. However, you can also find Tiger Orchid growing on rocky surfaces.
The plant is sometimes called sugarcane orchid as it resembles a sugar cane plant.
Tiger Orchid Plant in my Garden
My Friend's Tiger Orchid Plant
Close-up of My Friend's Tiger Orchid Plant
Tiger Orchid Blooms
When Tiger Orchid blooms everyone gets excited and cannot wait to see this unpredictable largest flower in the world, live.
Why? Because it is difficult to get it to flower. And when it does, it becomes a news item.
Some of the recently reported flowering of Tiger Orchids are at the following cities:
Tiger Orchid Blooms in BBG
Tiger Orchid Blooms in Brooklyn
In 2011, a rare and beautiful event happened in Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) in New York City. Its Grammatophyllum speciosum bloomed for the third time since it took up residence at BBG, an impressive feat as even in its natural habitat in South East Asia, it blooms infrequently.
The bloom is very impressive with a display of 17 flower stalks and hundreds of the Tiger Orchid flowers. See photo below.
The accompanying video was when it bloomed in 2008. Unfortunately I could not find video of 2011 blooms.
Tiger Orchid Blooms in Singapore
Tiger Orchid blooms in Singapore
Wild Tiger Orchids were extinct in Singapore due to its fast development that took place all over the island. In 1999, the government started to introduce the plant again and in March 2013, 20 of the 800 Tiger Orchid plants that were reintroduced to the island, started to flower.
These flowering plants were seen not in the 'wilder part' of Singapore, but were in public parks, along the road dividers and in other public spaces.
The 2013 blooms were at Holland Road, in the middle of road diver, and at East Coast Park. See the accompanying video.
Tiger Orchid Blooms at Poring Hot Spring in Sabah, Malaysia
In May 2013, the Grammatophyllum Speciosum or Tiger Orchid bloomed at Poring Hot Spring in Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Malaysia. See photo below.
Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve is not only famous for its hot water spring, but has also an excellent collection of rare tropical plants, rare butterflies, over 500 species of orchids and the world largest flower, the Rafflesia. (Note: Tiger Orchid is the world largest orchid flower)
It is located at the foothill of Malaysia's highest mountain, Mt. Kinabalu.
© 2014 Mazlan