While most orchids are known for their large, colorful flowers, jewel orchids stand out with their stunning leaves. I love that these leaves are velvety in texture and have veins that create stripes and patterns. In this guide, I’ll share my go-to tips for Jewel Orchid care at home for optimal growth and plant health throughout the year.

Ultimate Guide to Jewel Orchids (Ludisia spp.)

Jewel Orchid Care – Key Takeaways:

Common Name:Jewel Orchids
Scientific Name:Ludisia discolor (and other related species)
Native Range:Southeast Asia
Soil:African Violet Potting Mix works great, usually composed of sphagnum moss, fine bark, and perlite; good drainage is essential
Light:Low to medium light; prefers diffused or shaded light, avoiding direct sunlight, which can damage the leaves
Watering:Keep the substrate consistently moist but not waterlogged; high humidity is beneficial
Temperature:The ideal range is between 65-80°F (18-27°C) with cooler temperatures at night
Fertilizing:Feed with a balanced orchid fertilizer diluted to half or quarter strength every 2-4 weeks during active growth; reduce fertilizing during dormant periods
Pruning:Prune to remove dead or yellowing leaves and maintain plant shape; use sharp, sanitized shears
Pests:Common pests include aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs; manage with regular cleaning, appropriate watering, and the use of insecticidal soaps or neem oil if needed
Toxicity:Non-toxic to pets and humans; however, it is always best to keep plants out of reach from pets and small children
Symbolism:Often symbolizes rarity and unique beauty due to its distinctive veined leaves rather than its flowers.

How to Grow and Care for Jewel Orchids at Home

How to Grow and Care for Jewel Orchids at Home

Potting Considerations

Jewel orchids prefer wide, shallow pots rather than narrow, deep pots. This allows their roots to grow outward rather than straight down.

When you’re searching for a container, make sure you look for drainage holes. These allow excess water to escape, which helps prevent problems with disease.

Jewel Orchid Soil Preferences

As we briefly mentioned above, jewel orchids are terrestrial plants. That means they grow in soil.

Many other types of orchids are epiphytes, which means they grow on top of other plants.

Since jewel orchids are used to growing in soil, they don’t require a super chunky mix. Instead, they can be planted in soil mixes that are used for other houseplants.

In my experience, Jewel orchids perform best in potting mixes designed for African violets (via Amazon).

I find this mix provides more aeration and drainage than a typical houseplant potting mix.

If you can’t find an African violet potting mix, you can make your own soil mix. I combine one part peat moss, one part perlite, and one part vermiculite.

For more, see our essential guide to the best orchid plant soil mix.

The Best Light Conditions for Jewel Orchids

Light Preferences

In the wild, jewel orchids live on the forest floor. They’re protected from direct sun rays by the forest canopy.

You want to provide light conditions that mimic their natural environment. This means avoiding bright, direct light. Rather, provide indirect light or shady conditions.

I think one of the best spots for jewel orchids is in the interior of your home, away from any windows. A bathroom with a small window is also a good location.

For more, see our essential guide to orchid plant light requirements and where to position orchids in the home.

Temperature and Humidity Preferences

Jewel orchids prefer warm temperatures. For optimum growth, keep the air temperature between 60-75ºF.

You want to keep the temperature consistent over time. Therefore, I avoid placing these orchids near hot or cold drafts.

Jewel orchids require moderate to high humidity. They will suffer in dry environments.

The best way to increase humidity is with a humidifier. However, I also like to increase humidity by regularly spritzing your plant with water from a spray bottle.

High humidity does increase the odds that fungal issues will develop. To keep harmful fungi away, ensure good airflow. A fan is a great way to increase circulation and prevent disease.

For more, see our in-depth guide to orchid plant temperature and humidity tolerances.

When and How to Water Jewel Orchids

When and How to Water Jewel Orchids

Jewel orchids require regular watering to stay happy. In my experience, they don’t require any special water, but you can use rainwater or distilled water if you like.

A good rule of thumb is to water your orchid once every week. If you notice that your soil is still wet when you go to water, wait a few days before watering again.

For more, see our comprehensive guide to watering orchid plants.

Fertilizing Jewel Orchids

I always fertilize jewel orchids regularly to provide them with essential nutrients. Plan to fertilize every two weeks in spring through fall and every month in the winter.

Look for a balanced houseplant fertilizer. This should contain equal amounts of the three macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Mix this fertilizer to half the recommended strength before applying it to your plants. I like Jack’s all-purpose fertilizer (via Bloomscape).

For more, see our in-depth guide to fertilizing orchid plants.

Pruning and Staking Jewe Orchids

You won’t need to prune your jewel orchid unless you spot signs of disease. If you spot diseased leaves, removing them using a sharp pair of shears is best.

Common types of orchids, like moth orchids, require staking to support their large flowers. However, these orchids don’t require any staking in my experience.

Common Jewel Orchid Problems, Pests & Diseases (and Treatments!)

Common Jewel Orchid Problems, Pests & Diseases (and treatments!)

Jewel orchids are susceptible to common orchid pests and diseases. Watch out for the following, and treat if necessary.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny creatures that are related to ticks and spiders. There are many different types of spider mites, and certain species infect jewel orchids.

Spider mites are super small, so you might see their damage before you see the mites themselves. If you notice a silvery-speckled pattern on your orchid’s leaves, chances are good that spider mites are to blame.

These pests damage jewel orchids by sucking plant sap and spreading disease. Therefore, it’s essential to get rid of them before they severely damage your plant.

The good news is that spider mites are typically easy to control. To get rid of the mites, I like to wipe every leaf with a wet cloth.

 If you have spider mites, you also want to check your humidity levels. Low humidity increases the chances of a spider mite infestation.



Another pest to watch out for is aphids. These small insects use sucking mouthparts to drink plant sap.

Aphids breed rapidly, so their numbers can quickly get out of control. Therefore, it’s vital to treat aphids as soon as you see them.

If you notice a small number of aphids, you can remove them with a wet paper towel. If you are dealing with a larger infestation, my go-to option is to spray the plant with neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Root Rot

Root rot is a general term for several fungal issues that destroy orchid roots. Without roots, your plant will be unable to take up water or nutrients.

Some symptoms of root rot include discolored leaves or wilting. If you notice either of these, it’s a good idea to take a look at your plant’s roots. If the roots are soft, they are suffering from root rot.

Once roots are infected with root rot, the damage cannot be reversed. However, you can prevent future damage and allow your plants to rebound.

Remove your plant from its container and shake off any old soil. Trim off any sections of soft and rotten roots.

Once the rot is gone, you should repot your jewel orchid in fresh potting soil in a suitable orchid plant pot.

To prevent future outbreaks, make sure that the container has proper drainage holes. Also, avoid overwatering.

Further Reading About Jewel Orchids

About Jewel Orchids

Jewel Orchids – Family, Genus, and Taxonomy

  • Family: Orchidaceae
  • Genus: Ludisia

For a long time, humans thought there was only one species in the Ludisia genus. This species is Ludisia discolor.

However, a new species was added to the Ludisia genus in 2013. Scientists discovered Ludisia ravenii in the Philippines and classified it as a new species.

Sometimes, people refer to members of the Anoectochilus and Macodes genera as jewel orchids. However, members of the Ludisia genus are most commonly referred to as jewel orchids.

Botanical Characteristics, Colors, Fragrances, and Toxicity

While most orchids are grown for their large flowers, jewel orchids are a bit different. These plants produce inflorescences containing small white flowers, but their leaves are the real attractants.

Jewel orchids have velvet-like leaves that are two to three inches long. These leaves have veins that are a different color from the rest of the leaf. This leads to the appearance of stripes or patterns.

The leaves also have a faint shimmery appearance. This is what inspires the common name jewel orchid.

While all types of jewel orchids produce white flowers, the leaf color varies between cultivars. Leaves may be medium green or so dark they appear almost black.

The flowers don’t have any notable fragrance and Jewel orchids are non-toxic to humans, dogs, and cats.

History & Origins of Jewel Orchids

History & Origins of Jewel Orchids

Jewel orchids originated on forest floors in tropical South Asia.

The genus was first described as Ludisia in 1825. During the same year, a different botanist gave this genus the name Haemaria. However, since the genus Ludisia was published first, this name stuck.

After naming, humans began cultivating these plants for ornamental use in the home.

As demand for jewel orchids increased, people began removing them from their natural homes. Therefore, wild populations have decreased over time.

Etymological Meaning

While it’s unknown what the name Ludisia refers to, discolor means two different colors.

What Regions Are Jewel Orchids Native To?

Jewel orchids are native to tropical forests in South Asia. This includes areas in China, India, Myanmar, Thailand, and more.

While many types of orchids grow on other plants, jewel orchids grow on soil on the forest floor. This makes them terrestrial plants rather than epiphytes.

When Do Jewel Orchids Bloom?

Jewel orchids typically bloom during the winter or spring of each year. However, they may bloom during other times of the year.

Their flowers typically last one to three weeks.

Popular Jewel Orchid Cultivars

The most common jewel orchids are members of the Ludisia discolor species. The following are two popular cultivars.

‘Black Jewel’ has dark green leaves that almost appear black. The bottoms of the leaves are maroon and the veins are red or pink.

‘Alba’ has medium green leaves with stunning patterns. The white veins create patterns that are similar to those found in rattlesnake plantain.

Uses and Benefits of Jewel Orchids

Jewel orchids are most commonly used as ornamental orchids. Since they are so different from other orchids, they’re often found in orchid collections.

For more, see our in-depth guide to orchid plant uses and benefits.

Jewel Orchid Meaning & Symbolism

On the Indonesian island of Java, people hold the jewel orchid in a special light. They believe that the jewel orchid emerged from a piece of a fallen fairy princess cloak.

Jewel orchids are seen as symbols of beauty and good luck in other parts of the world.

Jewel Orchid FAQs:

Do Jewel Orchids Produce Flowers?

Yes, they do. While jewel orchids are well known for their beautiful leaves, they also produce flowers. Jewel orchids typically flower once a year. They form many small white flowers atop a flower stalk.

Are Jewel Orchids Rare?

Jewel orchids aren’t super rare, but they’re not common either. While jewel orchids are easy to propagate from stem cuttings, growers often sell them for high prices. This leads to people thinking they are rare.

How Do You Care For a Jewel Orchid?

Jewel orchids are easy to care for indoors at home. Providing your jewel orchid with a warm temperature and high humidity is essential. Use well-draining potting soil and water once a week. Make sure to keep the plant away from bright, direct light.

How Big Do Jewel Orchids Get?

Jewel orchids grow up to 12 inches tall.

Jewel Orchid Care – Wrapping Up

Although jewel orchids aren’t super common, they’re a fabulous orchid to add to your home. They’re easy to care for and add something new thanks to their beautiful leaves.

For more, see our in-depth guide on how to manage orchid plants dropping leaves.

Contributing Editor | Full Bio | + posts

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

Author Briana Yablonski

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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