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The genus Barkeria includes 10-15 species of deciduous epiphytic orchids originating in central America. They have small dimensions and long cylindrical pseudobulbs similar to canes, erect; the leaves grow alternating along the pseudobulbs, they are thin, 8-10 cm long, light green with a reddish margin, completely reddish on the underside. In late summer and autumn they produce beautiful flowers of violet, lilac, white or cream, gathered in inflorescences of 2-7 flowers, solitary in young plants. The labellum is extended downwards, while sepals and petals tend upwards, as if to form a crown. At the end of the flowering the leaves wither and the plant enters in winter vegetative rest. These plants are very appreciated for their long flowering period and small size, but they are not much cultivated due to the difficulty of growing them in conditions too unlike the natural ones.
Barkeria orchids need very bright positions, where, however, the sun's rays are always filtered since direct exposure, especially on the hottest days, can lead to dangerous burns of the leaf apparatus; the ideal cultivation temperature is around 15-20 ° C, although in summer they can tolerate higher temperatures, while in winter, when the leaves are withered, they can withstand temperatures close to 10-15 ° C.
In spring, when the new shoots begin to sprout from the substratum, the waterings must be regular and abundant, the soil must be fairly humid and it is advisable to vaporize the leaves and pseudobulbs often, it is important that after watering the excess water flow freely from the vessel; with the beginning of flowering halve the waterings, maintaining however the moist soil. At the end of flowering, stop watering completely, spraying the plant sporadically, at least once every 10-15 days; if it is kept in a cold place it is a good idea to completely stop watering and steaming until spring. In the vegetative period provide specific fertilizer epr orchids dissolved in the water of the watering every 10-12 days, using about 1/4 of the recommended dose.
Barkeries need very well drained soil, consisting of pieces of bark, pieces of coal and osmunda fiber; it is advisable to drill several holes in the vessel to simulate natural conditions; in fact barkeries are epiphytic plants and in equatorial forests they grow on the bark of small trees, with the roots exposed completely to the air.
The reproduction of Barkeria orchids takes place in spring due to divisions of the tufts of pseudobulbs, as soon as they emit new shoots. The new plants thus obtained must be immediately repotted in individual containers, using the same substrate that is used for the cultivation of adult orchids.
These plants should be repotted when the roots have filled the container, replacing the substrate that degrades over time, so as to provide better support.
Barkeria: Pests and diseases
Pay attention to cochineal and root rot. Scale insects settle on the leaves and, when their presence is limited, instead of resorting to insecticide products, it is good to intervene with a manual intervention, using a cotton pad with alcohol.
For the root rot it is necessary to pay attention to the chosen substrate and to the water supply, which must be constant but do not leave the soil soaked.