Aretusa: growing orchids outdoors and indoors

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Aretusa: growing orchids outdoors and indoors
Aretusa: growing orchids outdoors and indoors

Description of the aretuza plant, how to plant and care in a personal plot, growing an orchid indoors, how to reproduce, possible difficulties in leaving, interesting notes, types.

Arethusa belongs to the extensive and one of the oldest families of Orchidaceae, uniting monocotyledonous representatives of the flora. According to some historical information, the family originated in the Late Cretaceous era, which began about 145 million years ago. Thanks to the appearance of such plants, their natural pollinators - insects - emerged. The natural range of distribution of these exotic flowers falls on the North American continent (in the eastern and central parts of the United States and Canada, from South Carolina to Saskatchewan) and Japanese lands. Usually found on acidic and waterlogged soils, especially in the soil of sphagnum mosses. The genus contains only two species.

Family name Orchid
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous
Breeds Only corms
Open ground transplant terms In the end of May
Landing rules Leave 15-20 cm between seedlings
Priming Loose, nutritious, humus-rich, loamy or sandy
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (neutral) or below 6 (sour)
Illumination level Sun or shaded areas
Humidity level Abundant and regular watering
Special care rules You may need shelter for the winter or keeping in cool conditions, feeding
Height options 10-40 cm
Flowering period Throughout May-July
Type of inflorescences or flowers Single flowers on the tops of the stems
Color of flowers Hot pink, reddish pink, or pinkish crimson
Fruit type Capsule or pod
The timing of fruit ripening As pollination progresses, at the end of summer
Decorative period Spring-summer
Application in landscape design Decoration of borders, flower beds and flower beds
USDA zone 3–6

The aretuza got its name thanks to the fountain, with a similar name, located in the central part of Syracuse. Another name for this plant "Dragon's Mouth" or "Dragon's mouth" or "Dragon's mouth" was given for the shape of the flower, which somewhat resembled the shape of the open mouth of a monster. Also among the people you can hear the following nicknames "Calopogon" and "Grass pink", translated as "Black Cohosh" and "Pink Grass", respectively.

Aretusa are corms with a herbaceous form of growth. They have a long-term growing season. The height of the stems varies within 10–40 cm, their color is pale green. The flower stem is smooth, with several narrow vaginal upper leaves (usually 1–3 of them are formed), which after flowering extend to a narrow grass-like blade up to 5–23 cm long and 3–12 mm wide. The leaf plates of the dragon's mouth orchid grow straight, their shape is linear, narrowed with a pointed tip at the top. Leaves are painted in a rich green color.

Flowering, as in almost many members of the orchid family, is a virtue of the aretusa. It falls on the period from May to July. At this time, the formation of one bright pink, reddish-pink or pinkish-purple irregular (zygomorphic) flower with a whitish-pink extension of the lip, marked with purple spots and a yellow center, occurs. Three solid narrowed floral elliptical sepals up to 0.6 mm wide and 2–2.6 cm long are located directly above the flower.Typically, the size of the sepals of the arretusa varies in length in the range of 20–55 mm. A pair of sepal-like petals form a hood over the dramatic lower lip. Lateral petals grow straight.

The lower lip in the aretheusa flower first rises, then bends and descends completely, exposing the wrinkled edges in purple specks with fleshy white or yellow bristles. Its outline is somewhat like a blade. Lip length is 19–35 mm. There is also a shortened spur in the flower. The columnar in the flower is elongated with a bend, has a strong expansion and has winging at its tip. After flowering, a single herb-like leaf unfolds. Flowers singly crown the tops of thin flowering stems.


The plant is somewhat similar to the black cohosh (Calopogon tuberosus), which has similar flowers and grows in the same habitat, but unlike aretusa, its flowers are insensitive (that is, the lip is the upper petal).

Despite the beautiful flowers, although these orchids are considered perennials, their life cycle is short-lived and the flowering process begins just a few seasons before the death of the specimen. During the flowering process of the dragon's mouth orchid, a pleasant aroma spreads around it, which serves to attract pollinators. Pollination of the flowers of the aretusa occurs by means of bumblebees. So the species Bombus ternarius and Bombus terricola are attracted to the lips of flowers that absorb ultraviolet rays, like bristles on a lip, and crawl to the base of the lip in search of nectar. When the bumblebee moves away from the flower, it comes into contact with the stigma, the anther opens, and the sticky tip of the pollinia attaches to pollinators (bees or bumblebees).

Self-fertilization is avoided in this process because the pollen can only be removed when the insect leaves the flower, and the pollen is transferred to the stigma when the bumblebee or bee enters the next flower it visits. Aretusa orchid pollination depends on inexperienced insects that appear during the flowering season, because pollinators quickly learn to avoid these flowers, which offer them nothing as a "reward", that is, there is no nectar in them.

After pollination, the fruits ripen in aretuza, which are capsules or pods, vertical outlines, varying in length from 1.5 to 2.5 cm.

The plant can be perfectly grown on Russian lands, which include the southern, central black earth and central regions. But at the same time, aretuza is a rather rare type of orchid, but if you make a little effort, it will invariably become a decoration of the site. It is important to remember, however, that when breeding the dragon's mouth orchid, the grower is working to preserve an endangered species of flora in much of the eastern United States.

Planting and caring for aretuse in the open field

Aretusa blooms
  1. Landing place Dragon's mouth orchids need to be selected in shade, since naturally the plant is rarely found in open locations, so it can be placed under tree crowns, but since flowering ends in mid-summer, you will need to take care of filling the voids in the flower bed with other flowers. On a sunny and open location, you will need to monitor soil moisture.
  2. Priming for growing aretuza, they are selected based on its natural predilections - loose, nutritious with the addition of humus. The acidity of the soil mixture should be neutral (pH 6, 5-7) or acidic (below pH 6), all because the orchid can grow even on a marsh substrate. If the soil on the site does not match, then it is recommended to add compost and peat chips to it, but loam is the best choice.
  3. Planting aretusa should be carried out in late spring, despite their frost resistance, young orchids should normally adapt and take root by the winter period.A small layer of drainage material (about 3 cm) is placed at the bottom of the hole, sprinkled with a layer of soil mixture, and then the plant is carefully placed on top. It is important to be careful when planting because of the fragility of the root processes. After planting, abundant watering is carried out.
  4. Wintering when growing aretusa, there will be no problems for the gardener, since the plant is characterized by frost resistance and is able to withstand a decrease in the thermometer column to -35 frost. Also, keeping in cool conditions is not required. But this applies only to regions with a temperate climate; in a cold one, the bushes can be sprinkled with dry foliage.
  5. Watering because of the natural predilection for moisture, the aretuza should be abundant and regular. Especially if the soil is not too wet on the site.
  6. Fertilizers when caring for the dragon's mouth orchid, it is required to make 3-4 times per season. It is recommended to use preparations without a high nitrogen content in the composition. You can use such products as "Mr. Color" and "Mr. Foley" for orchids, as well as "Kemira-Lux", "Cameleon" or "BonaForte".
  7. The use of aretuza in landscape design. Can be grown in shaded flower beds, for example, under tree crowns that provide diffused lighting. Because of their love for water, it is possible to land on the banks of natural or artificial reservoirs.

See also recommendations for planting and caring for the Bletilla garden orchid.

Growing aretusa indoors

Aretusa in hand
  1. Place for the pot with the dragon's mouth orchid, you should choose well-lit, but without direct sunlight. This view also perfectly tolerates partial shade, so it can be suitable as a southeast or southwest location. On the sill of the southern direction, there is a possibility of overheating of the plant, which in nature prefers not too open places, so you will need to take care of shading (hang translucent curtains on the window). In winter, you can carry out supplementary lighting with phytolamps, and in summer you can take out the pot with aretuse to the balcony, but again taking care of the shade.
  2. Temperature, at which the plant will be kept indoors should be in the range of 20-25 degrees, but when autumn comes, the indicators should be reduced to 10-13 degrees. Do not expose the aretuza to a draft. For this orchid, daily temperature drops of about 7 units should be created, which is so easy to arrange when cultivated in open ground, and in rooms it will be required, leave a window open overnight. At high temperatures, the dragon's mouth orchid may even die.
  3. Watering when growing aretheza indoors, it is a very important factor, since the plant loves moisture, but it is important to ensure that the soil is not too waterlogged. In the autumn-winter period with soil moisture, it is better not to be zealous, but when a peduncle appears from the bulb, then watering should be increased.
  4. Humidity when caring for the aretuse in the rooms, there should be at least 60%, therefore, periodic spraying of the orchid from a fine spray bottle should be performed. With such spraying, moisture should not get on the corm and peduncle. In winter, instead of spraying, the pot with the plant is placed in a pallet, on the bottom of which a sufficient layer of moistened expanded clay is laid.
  5. Priming for growing aretuza in a pot, you need to pick up a nutritious, but sufficiently drained, loamy loam. The container itself should have holes in the bottom to drain excess moisture. You can mix peat crumbs and chopped sphagnum moss into the soil.
  6. Landing. When the dragon's mouth orchid is grown in a pot, it is not worth replanting. This should be done only if the roots of the plant began to crawl out of the holes of the planting container and the corms grew, the soil began to mold or turn sour. If the pot has become small, then it is changed to a larger one.If the substrate has become unusable, then the transplant is performed in the same container, but with a new soil mixture. When transplanting, you need to be careful not to damage the roots and bulbs of the aretusa. First, a layer of drainage is placed on the bottom of the pot, which is sprinkled with a small layer of soil, and only an orchid is installed on top. When planting, you can remove old, spoiled or dried corms.
  7. Fertilizers for indoor cultivation, aretuza is introduced during the growing season. In winter, fertilizing the plant should not be disturbed. For an orchid, the following simple mineral fertilizers "Pokon" or "Greenworld" are suitable. Very little funds are taken, since too much will negatively affect the plant. Only a couple of drops of the drug are applied to a basin of water.

How to reproduce aretusa?

Aretusa in the ground

To get a new copy of the dragon's mouth plant, it is recommended to plant corms or pseudobulbs. The name bulb or "bulb" as part of the orchid got its name from the Latin word "bulbus". It usually accumulates moisture and nutrients, which helps the aretuse to survive in climatic problems. The presence of bulbs confirms that this orchid is not a parasitic plant that will feed on another representative of the flora, since there are orchids, for example, rafflesia, that live on trees and suck nutrients from the "host".

Such young bulbs or "babies" can form in aretusa only when the plant is an adult and is grown at an elevated temperature (in the open field or indoors). Also, the help for the education of children will be the fact that no feeding was made, with an increased nitrogen content in its composition.

When children appear in a specimen, the plant should be sprayed until the bulb takes root. After that, it is separated from the parent specimen, and all sections are carefully processed with powdered crushed coal (charcoal or pharmacy activated). Then the baby is planted in a separate container prepared in advance. The plant should not be finely divided, since engraftment will be difficult and there is a possibility of death of both the young bulb and the mother.


When dividing, it is required that the aretuza is mature enough and has at least two pairs of corms.

When planting, the soil in the pot must be moist. Usually, the plant itself will tell you the time of transplantation, since its pseudobulbs will protrude above the surface of the soil.

They also begin to transplant and reproduce at a time when the leaves of the old bulb will die off. Then the old corms are separated and placed in a humid environment for rooting. To do this, a little water is poured into the bowl, and a lattice is placed on top, on which the pseudo-bulb of the aretusa is placed. You can place a plastic lid on top (for example, a cake box, an inverted plastic transparent bucket, small aquariums or bowls, or the like). Such conditions will ensure that high humidity is maintained. For germination, the temperature should be kept at least 20 degrees.

After a short period of time, the formation of new plants with their own roots will begin at the warping of the old corms. When the roots reach a length of about 1–1, 5 cm, you can plant the bulbs in pots or in open ground.

Possible difficulties in caring for aretusa

Aretusa grows

Nematodes are a real threat when growing the dragon's mouth orchid. Such small worms harm not only vegetables, but also flowers in the garden. There are a large number of nematode species and such pests are distinguished by their gluttony and vitality, while all parts of the plant, from the roots (tubers in this case) to the stems, fall under their "blow".Due to the presence of these parasites, aretuza, grown both in the open field and in indoor conditions, slows down in development, deformation of parts occurs, flowering is weaker or may not start at all. In addition, the resistance of plants to a large number of diseases is greatly reduced, some young specimens simply cannot survive when affected by nematodes.

Usually, such small worms are divided into three groups:

  • Stemaffecting stems, foliage, as well as buds and flowers of aretusa. In this case, the stem is deformed, the formation of spots and thickenings on the leaves, the scales on the corms are destroyed.
  • Leafy can be identified by the mottling on the leaves of a pale yellow hue, then the leaves will begin to dry and die off.
  • Root or gall nematodes infect the roots of aretuza, which can cause growths to form on the surface, stopping the nutrition and absorption of moisture by the plant, which leads to wilting and death.

In addition, nematodes pose a danger in that they can carry infections (phytopathogenic organisms) and the aretuza that promote their penetration into the tissues, due to the appearing "wounds" and cracks, which can provoke viral diseases from which it will not be possible to cure the orchid, and such copies are subject to destruction.

There are both folk and chemical methods of dealing with nematodes when growing aretusa. Among the folk there are:

  1. Watering the soil with boiling water before planting, while in order to remove the pests, the water temperature should be more than 50–55 degrees, and the depth of moisture penetration should be more than 15–20 cm. After that, the soil is covered with plastic wrap to slow down its cooling. However, this method does not give 100% of the result.
  2. Tubers with aretuza roots, which have already suffered from nematodes, should be removed from the soil, washed from its residues and soaked in water at a temperature of 40–45 degrees for about half an hour. Some gardeners add 0.06% formalin to such a solution.

For a more effective fight against nematodes in garden plantings, as well as, in particular, when growing aretusa, fumigants are recognized, which are poisonous gases, among which Nemagon, Carbation or methyl bromide are distinguished. These substances, when entering the respiratory system of the pest, lead to its death. Other means are contact poisons, such as Karbofos or Lindane, or drugs with systemic action, designed specifically for the destruction of nematodes - Dimethoate.

Organophosphate compounds have a less toxic effect, and they can be used in a lower dosage, such a tool can be Chloropicrin. There are a number of drugs that were made on the basis of nematophagous fungi (bio-nematicides) - Nematofagin BT or Basamil, Aversectin C or Metarizin.

Pseudobulbs are very attractive to voles and mice, and a watery moat is the best protection for dragon's mouth orchid plantings.

Read also about pests and diseases of fajus when cultivated in room conditions

Interesting notes about aretuza

Blossoming of Arethusa

The plant bears its name in honor of the nymph-hunter Aretusa or Arethusa, who became the chosen one of the river god Alpheus, but did not want to answer his claims and begged the goddess Artemis to become a source. The same name was given to the fountain in the center of Syracuse, which is located in a square overlooking the sea, located next to the Temple of Apollo and Artemis. However, this small source in the literal sense does not much resemble a fountain, but ivory gulls have found refuge in it and such plants as reeds and papyrus grow. But if you believe numerous legends, then it was here until 1170 that the source of fresh water was located, but due to an earthquake it disappeared.

One of the legends says that this place served as an outlet for the Greek river Alphea of ​​the Peloponnesian, which flowed underground under the Ionian Sea.Another version refers to the already mentioned nymph Aretuza, who threw herself into the sea here and was turned by the gods into a freshwater stream named after her.

For insects, the flowers of aretusa resembles the open mouth of an animal. Its unusual lip lobe serves as a platform for insects, especially bumblebees, which enter the flower to collect nectar, attracted by the captivating scent, but collect powdery pollen masses when they leave without finding food.

Aretusa is a rarely seen native orchid that does exist in large populations in the spotted peatlands of northern Minnesota. Its habitat is difficult to access and, as a rule, is not interesting for an ordinary excursionist, that is, it is usually wet and marshy.

Types of aretuza

Aretusa Flowers

Arethusa bulbosa

is the most popular species of the genus. The plant is found naturally in marshy areas in the temperate zones of North America (Carolina). Quite rare. The average height of the stems is 15–25 cm. The root tubers are small, whole, round, tuberous. The stem is straight. The leaf is single, stem, narrow, linear, at first impenetrable under the scaly leaf sheaths. Its length reaches 23 cm.

When flowering, which occurs in tuberous aretheza at the end of spring or early summer, one flower is formed on flowering stems 5–10 cm high (rarely a couple or up to 3 of them open). Irregular zygomorphic flower. Its color is bright pinkish-red, sometimes dark pink-purple, with a thick sweet aroma. The inner and outer tepals are arcuately folded, forming a kind of helmet, or rather an unusual-looking arc above the column. The lip has a straight contour with a back bend, narrow, with an extension at the end, whole, with a short spur in the central part with combs and juicy hairs. The column is quite close to the lip.

After pollination, the capsule explodes, straight, with elongated outlines, sharply angular. This graceful plant is well known in the culture in Holland. It is characterized by high frost resistance up to minus 35 C. Wet, shaded areas on humus-rich, loose soil are recommended for the cultivation of aretuza. Reproduction takes place by means of root tubers.

Arethusa japonica

It is similar in appearance to the Japanese pursuit and has an even narrower island-type area: Russia (Kuriles - Kunashir), Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu). This species of the genus is the only one that grows in Russia. Found in the same habitats as Japanese popogonia. Blooms in July. It is included in the Red Book of the USSR.

May be found under the name Eleorchis japonica. A plant with tubers and the accumulated supply of nutrients in them can help to endure unfavorable climatic periods (frost or drought), that is, it is a geophyte. The height of the stems of this herbaceous perennial reaches 0.3 m. The thickness of the tuberous root is measured about 6 mm. The leaves that unfold after flowering do not exceed 15 cm in length and only 0.8 cm in width. Usually, only one leaf plate is formed on each stem. The leaf is located in the root zone, its shape is lanceolate, narrowed.

During summer flowering, one (occasionally a pair) of pinkish-crimson flowers is formed at the top of the stem. The fruit is a capsule that forms between September and November. Reproduction is possible here using seeds.

Related article: How to properly grow and propagate Masdevallia orchid

Video about aretuse:

Photos of aretuza:

Aretuza Photos 1 Photos of Aretusa 2 Photos of Aretusa 3 Photos of Aretusa 4 Aretusa Photos 5

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