Nun’s Orchid

This post, “Nun’s Orchid” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


The Nun’s Orchid’s (Phaius tankervilliae) blooms have opened.  The stalks are about four feet high, and the flowers gradually open from the bottom of the stalk to the top.  The flowers are rusty-chocolate brown on the inside and white on the outside with a pinkish-purple trumpet.



 This is a terrestrial orchid.  I have mine growing in a large pot.  I have had it for about four years now, and grow it outside most of the year.  In the winter, I bring it onto the front porch, and if a freeze it predicted, I cover it with plastic.  This orchid likes to grow in partial shade.  The leaves are large but are not that attractive.  In the warm weather after it flowers, I put in the side garden where it is not too noticeable.


As you can see from the picture this is a striking plant.  The flowers are fragrant, too.  These are fairly easy to grow.  They need fast draining soil, a deep container for good root developement, and protection from the hottest part of the day.  They only need to be repotted every two to three years.  I haven’t repotted mine yet, though I probably will do it this year after it finishes blooming.


Such beautiful flowers, fragrance, and ease of care, makes the Nun’s Orchid a great plant to have.



  1. nancybond said,

    April 13, 2008 at 9:31 am

    How beautiful!

  2. Jan said,

    April 13, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks, Nancy. The first time I saw a Nun’s Orchid I was so impressed. This year has been the best for blooms.

  3. April 13, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Those are so cool!

    I put some in last month but they are just getting going. Now I’ll have to stand over them every day and tell them to hurry it up.

    I’m jealous.

  4. Jan said,

    April 14, 2008 at 4:33 am

    It is hard to be patient when you have a new plant and you want to see some blooms. You will love Nun’s Orchid.

  5. Phillip said,

    April 14, 2008 at 7:20 am

    Very beautiful, I’m not familiar with it.

  6. Jan said,

    April 14, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Phillip, these are great plants. They are not fussy about their environment like some orchids are. I just treat them like a regular plant, and they do fine.

  7. Susan Garrison said,

    April 18, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    I saw these at the PJC Plant Sale last week. They were gorgeous. The people who were selling them said you can put them in the ground in our zone (8b) and they’ll die back to the ground in the winter but resprout in the spring. I came close to buying some, but they were $15 and I had already spent way too much money!

  8. Jan said,

    April 19, 2008 at 4:57 am

    Susan, maybe next time you’ll see these before spending to much money- LOL. They reallly are worth the money. The flowers last a long time. I have not planted mine in the ground. I prefer to be able to move them when they are in bloom to where I can enjoy them the most.

  9. minoo said,

    April 26, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    can some one let me know what to do with the long stem after the flowers are gone please?

  10. Jan said,

    April 26, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I’ve read that you take the stem and lay it in sand and lightly cover. Keep moist, and plants are supposed to form along the stem. I have never done this, so I can not verify if this works.

  11. Judy said,

    May 4, 2008 at 10:03 am

    I would also love to know what to do with the long stem and also the leaves on my Nun orchids now that the flowers are gone. This is first time I have owned Nun orchids. I have one planted in the ground and one in a pot. Now that the flowers are dying they both have the same appearance. Do I cut the stems back and let the leaves turn brown or just let them the way they are.
    I can’t see how I could cover the stem when the plant is in a pot.

  12. Jan said,

    May 4, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Judy, this is the info I have: to propagate from the stems, remove the stem and any flowers remaining, cut into 1.5 to 2 inch lengths above the stem internode, dust with rootone, and push the stem pieces horizontally halfway into the soil. Cover the pot with a bag and keep moist, but not wet, and place in a shaded location until growth starts.
    I have not done this yet, but I think I am going to try this year when all my flowers have fallen off.
    I also found this website which you may want to check out.

  13. Judy said,

    May 10, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Thanks Jan.
    I will try this soon. My flowers have all fallen.

  14. Jan said,

    May 10, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Hi, Judy. My nun’s orchid still has its flowers, but I don’t think it will be too long before I, too, can try propagating it. If I am successful, I will do a posting on it.

  15. Jeanne said,

    May 13, 2010 at 2:48 am

    long time no see… and I hope you are well. I am so glad to see you are still gardening and maintaining your blog! By the way, your Nun’s Orchid is beautiful 🙂 I will begin updating my blog again soon, life happened (long story) and I have moved. I have been doing a garden update on a facebook page, but I miss blogging… and I am taking the Master Gardener’s course this summer. I hope to reconnect soon!

    If you are on facebook, my page is:

    • Jan said,

      May 13, 2010 at 4:57 am

      So glad you stopped by, Jeanne, I was wondering what happened to you. I look forward to you blogging again.

  16. Where in The World is Pablo Lalaguna said,

    February 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I just got mine from a nursery south of Miami. The gardener told me they were orchids, but did not know their name. I loved the leaves and the stalks. Now they are blooming and I love them. However, some of the leaves are turning yellow. Any advise?

    • Jan said,

      February 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      Mine have sent up stalks, but aren’t ready to bloom yet. As for the yellow leaves, if yours is blooming, it is probably the older leaves that are just dying off. After it finishes blooming, I just fertilize with an all purpose fertilizer and have no problems. I wouldn’t be too concerned about the yellow leaves unless they continue or are new leaves that turn yellow. Enjoy your flowers.

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