Disa uniflora

Disa uniflora, the "Pride of Table Mountain", is the best-known Disa orchid. Like the rest of the genus, they need a lot of water, as they grow next to streams in nature. They originate in South Africa. They are usually red orchids, though a few varieties are pink or yellow. There is usually a pattern of brightly-colored veins in the dorsal sepal. The flowers are roughly triangular in shape, as the three sepals are the most conspicuous part of the flower. They are pollinated by the butterfly Meneris tulbaghia.
Disa uniflora
Image courtesy of Peter Baker
Distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
To care for them successfully, they must never dry out; water these orchids at least daily. Most people set them in a tray of water. They don't really like stagnant water, so some orchidists set up a table with water constantly flowing across it, usually fed by an aquarium pump.

The roots still like air, however; don't submerge the pot too deeply, just an inch or so. They like an acidic potting mix suitable for terrestrial orchids. Pure sphagnum moss works well, as does a mix of sand and peat.

Pure water is important. Either collect rainwater or invest in a reverse osmosis filtration system. The water needs to be really clean: a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter should read 200-300ppm (parts per million) even after you've added fertilizer.

They like cool temperatures, particularly at the roots; don't let the roots get above 70°F (21C), and there should be a 10-15°F drop in temperatures at night (6-8C).

Remove old dead leaves before they rot; this will help prevent fungal infections and other diseases. You may need to apply a fungicide occasionally, too. (But at low concentrations: remember, they like clean water!)

The plant will die back after flowering, and a bunch of stolons will develop into new plants. This is normal. Some people grow them in net pots (plastic baskets) to allow more places for the new plantlets to start. It's best to repot as soon as you see the new growths emerging, as the potting mix tends to break down quickly with so much water. Usually, the plant is divided with each new growth getting its own pot.

Bright light is best; you can even give them direct sunlight if the roots don't overheat. Also provide some fans for air circulation if you're growing them indoors.

Return from Disa uniflora to Disa Orchids

Return from Disa uniflora to Orchid Care Tips Home