Orchid of the Week: Tolumnias

Orchid of the Whenever I Get Around to It Week is back today with Tolumnias! In my most recent post I bragged about one of my Tolumnia plants being in spike, so I thought now would be a good time to feature this pretty mini orchid. Tolumnia blooms come in a variety of bright, cheery colors like this specimen that I saw at the NYBG’s Orchid Show earlier this year:

Magenta Tolumnia

These Caribbean natives were known as equitant Onciciums until the mid-1980s, when they were reclassified as Tolumnia. They are very compact plants—just a scant 3 or so inches tall—that can be grown in the home, either potted or mounted. The two in my collection are potted: one in charcoal and the other with no medium at all. These orchids like high humidity and almost daily watering, depending on the medium. At the very least, I mist my Tolumnias daily and usually end up watering them at least twice a week. To be honest they would probably do better with a full on watering every day or two.

Let’s take a look at some photos of these adorable little orchids!

Tolumnia at NYBG’s 2010 Orchid Show
Another 2010 Orchid Show Tolumnia
An earlier bloom on one of my Tolumnias (this is the one that is currently spiking)
Photo credit: petrichor, Flickr
Photo credit: Matthew Brink, Flickr

The plant itself looks interesting, with long, sharp-tipped leaves that are almost pyramidal in shape rather than flat:

Photo credit: forum.theorchidsource.com

When I did a Google Image search for Tolumnia, I found this cool display of several blooming Tolumnias hanging from a chain. Love this idea:

Photo credit: gardenbanter.co.uk

As for the scientific classification, it goes like this:

Subfamily: Epidendroideae

Tribe: Maxillaria

Subtribe: Oncidiinae

Genus: Tolumnia

So there you have it. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, Kwanzaa, Yule, or whatever else you celebrate!

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  1. Tolumnia are gorgeous! I have always been leery of owning one, seeing that my home is so dry during the winter. What are the conditions where you have it growing?

    P.S. Your site is great! Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Bob and THANKS for the compliment, I really appreciate it! My home is very dry in the winter too — the humidity level has been around 20-30% when I don’t have the humidifier on. I usually water both of my Tolumnias about twice a week, but I also mist each one daily. One of them is in spike and developing buds (YAY!) and I’ve recently moved the other into an open top terrarium-type container, which is keeping it more moist. And I have southern exposure, so my orchids get a good amount of light. I’d say give a Tolumnia a whirl, just make sure to mist it daily. Happy growing!

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