a little phrag habitat info

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Jan 22, 2008
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elmer, nj
Gary (Carper) was looking for info on another thread about phrags and trying to find a list that indicated which phrags liked what pH (or something close to that) and if limestone/calcium should be added to the fertilizer or media or not. I have the Baker's culture book that has phragmipediums in it, and though it is slightly outdated for phrags (written in 1991), I decided to compile what little info it might have for phrag habitats. Some of the names may not be 'taxonomically correct' by today's standards but just remember what name a species used to have a few years back and it should match. The Bakers also have a species culture website so any species missing from here is likely on their webpage available for purchase/download. http://www.orchidculture.com

By habitat data, I mean I took where a plant was listed as being physically located (as described in the book) and not the climatic conditions. Some don't have data along those lines which I've listed for each species. I've included information that doesn't exactly describe pH preference but which may give a clue to how you may want to make your media and pH conditions. (I think from reading these listings I may go to all organic fertilizer for phrags!)

Phrag besseae - cliff faces, under bushes on steep banks with constant seepage; 'likes live sphagnum, lithophytic mosses' so maybe slightly acidic

phrag boisserianum - (also listed synonym as cajamarcae) clay slopes; rich black loam near edges of jungle (and valleys between high ridges so likely collected runoff/organic matter)

phrag caricinum - near waterfalls and on riverbanks; also on boulders in rivers exposed to and covered by high waters

phrag caudatum - forest trees, shady humus soil, cliffs in constant seepage areas (all areas high in organic nutrients)

phrag czerwiakowianum - no data
phrag doriense - no data
phrag ecuadorense - no habitat data
phrag hartwegii - no data
phrag hincksianum - no data

phrag kaieteurum - grows in acid, black-water areas (pH between 4 and 5)

phrag klotzscheanum - grassy slopes, granite rock crevices often near waterfalls, sandstone tablelands near water with seasonal flooding. data states pH possibly as low as 4.5; also states plants may be sensitive to alkaline soil or water, or to pH above 5.5; growers suggest using organic fertilizers

phrag lindenii - open savannas and under shrubs, tall ferns and trees, or on fallen logs in cloud forests

phrag lindleyanum - moist areas near waterfalls or seepage areas; in rock fissures, in the thin layer of soil over rocks, or in matted tree roots. some grow in dark, rocky places with sparse vegetation. it's found in black-water regions where soil pH is low, and growers report success using steamed bone meal or fish meal to media, and using fish fertilizer or manure teas since the plants frequently grow in algae-laden sites rich in natural amines, and organic fertilizers reportedly produce superior results

phrag longifolium - in grass just above streamside gravel bars with seasonal flooding; along road banks which collect runoff or on steep cliffs in wet mountain forests

phrag pearcei - water's edge or on cliffs above streams

phrag reticulatum - no particular data
phrag roezlii - no data

phrag sargentianum - in shade of trees, usually areas with constant seepage, 2'-3' of humus; sites usually at the base of granite slopes. elsewhere they grow in streamside peat bogs (sounds very acidic)

phrag schlimii - slopes with constant seepage, often near rivers

phrag vittatum - grows on the banks of small river in highly organic soil with a pH of 7.5 (*) note that it also can be found with acid-loving pitcher plants in bogs of swampy peat soil with a high ration of organic material (low pH). either very adaptable, or likely plants from different areas need different treatment. one grower who had a plant from a high-pH region stated that their plant wasn't going to survive until dolomite was added to the media and the pH was at least 7.5 (how do you know which region your plant came from?? if it dies when you give it a certain pH (LOL))

phrag wallisii - granite rocks and cliff faces (may be somewhat acidic)

phrag warscewiczianum - tops of tall trees; other areas it's found on rocks in decayed vegetable matter

note that phrags fischeri and kovachii have been indicated by growers to be much happier if they have a higher pH or limestone of some sort in their media (or both) and that at least kovachii grows in calcareous mud.
also those discussing culture have pointed out that phrags besseae and schlimii appreciate lower pH's
phrag d'alessandroi isn't listed in the book, but reportedly grows along stream banks and conditions similar to besseae with roots down in the water

most likely phrags that aren't listed here will have culture sheets on the Baker's website since it would have been updated up to at least a year ago.

If you've been to species sites and know that one of these listings is inaccurate let me know. also if one of these listings from the book is incomplete (or the name is different now), also let me know and I'll change it and/or add the new info
(also lol if I mis-spelled some of those jaw-breaker names let me know)

hope this is helpful,


Well-Known Member
Jun 9, 2006
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Leiper's Fork, TN
The February issue of Orchids mag has a good culture article written by Jerry Fisher on Phrag culture. Much of his info is also based on habitat data that he collected himself.


Well-Known Member
Jun 9, 2009
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Nottingham UK

Thats great information, and certainly gives me an idea as to the mix as well as the feed and watering. Will sit down with this and match it up to some of the plants I have.

Thanks again.