Nun's Orchid

Phaius tankervilliae or Phaius grandifolius

  • ​​​Common Name: Nun’s Orchid (other common names: Nun’s Cap Orchid, Chinese Ground Orchid, Red Crane Orchid or Veiled Nun Orchid.)
  • Scientific Name: Phaius tankervilliae or Phaius grandifolius
  • Family Name: Orchidaceae
  • Origin: China
  • Height: 3 ft. upright and compact with a 4’ flower stalk.
  • Width: 36”
  • Growth: Low maintenance and easy to maintain.
  • Zone: 9A - 11
  • Light Needs: Sun to Partial Shade (Morning Sun)
  • Salt Tolerance:  Very Low
  • Soil/PH/Texture: Use a commercial terrestrial orchid potting mix. Add perlite and sand for drainage. Plant in a mix of 60-70% peat, compost and decomposed pine bark. Fertilize with 3-1-1 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium but dilute to ½ the strength of label recommendations. Use slow release fertilizer every 3 months or fish emulsion or compost tea every 2 weeks during active growth. (pH 5.5-6.3). 
  • Soil Moisture: Average water needs, do not overwater, moist but not soggy conditions, 50% humidity, maintain even levels.  Water in the morning so leaves can dry before cool evening temperatures. Phaius seems to have no dormant period, therefore, this evergreen plant requires moisture all year to live. Planting them in plastic pots would require less water for them than clay pots.
  • Drought Tolerance: Low
  • Pests/Diseases: No serious insect or disease problems. but aphids, scale and mealy bugs occasionally feed on the Nun’s Orchid
  • Growing Conditions: Allow room for vigorous root systems.  Temps below 40°, bring plant inside.  Can withstand 35° but can be severely damaged below 32°.
  • Characteristics: Large and palm like foliage with leaves 2-3 feet long and 5-6 inches wide. Flowers up to 5” across, rusty brown with a purplish lip, appear when daylight hours reduce during late winter to early spring.  Flowers open over a 6-week period and last about a month.
  • Propagation: After flowering, split the pseudobulbs or root the expended inflorescence.
  • Wildlife: Attracts birds and butterflies
  • Facts: Its common name originated from its hooded flowers. The genus name Pharius comes from the Greek word phaios, stands for “dusky” or “dark” probably meant to describe the blooms. In the Genus Pharius there are more than 30 species of primarily terrestrial orchids, but the Nun’s Orchid is most often found in the trade or for purchasing.
  • Designer Considerations: This plant is great in pots for your patio, sunroom, houseplant or in a semi-shaded area on a tree in your yard.


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Nun's Orchid