Leptotes bicolor: a resilient & easy to grow miniature epiphytic orchid species

I spend a vast proportion of my time running Indoor Trials and Outdoor Trials.  When I’m working on Orchid Trials, I find it such a thrill to discover beautiful miniature orchids that look stunning visually, but are also easy to grow and flower.  I love to write about these plants to help you discover orchids that aren’t demanding or difficult to grow.  Introducing you to orchids that I know will almost certainly grow and flower beautifully for you is the best feeling!

Leptotes bicolor is an absolutely fabulous miniature orchid!  This is such a naturally strong growing and resilient orchid species.  Leptotes bicolor is a miniature orchid that remains compact; however, it’s a vigorous grower that’s easy going and adaptable.

I want to show you just how amazing this orchid is – so I’ve taken some up to date pictures of my Leptotes bicolor specimen for you this week, but I’ve also been trawling through my photo archives and I’ve gathered together some older images to show you this plant’s journey.  This particular Leptotes bicolor specimen has been growing inside my Orchidarium since I first set up this enclosure, back in March 2017.  Here’s a picture I took of this Leptotes bicolor plant in April 2017, not long after this orchid was introduced to this terrarium…

Leptotes bicolor pictured on the 13th April 2017.

This Leptotes bicolor plant is mounted on a rubbishy piece of very old, scrappy wood.  The mount is too small for the plant and so this orchid is always looking for ways to diversify and it has a tendency to grab hold of its neighbours, looking for an opportunity to extend its range.  Having said that, this orchid species is not a weed – Leptotes bicolor hasn’t perforated my other orchids’ mounts.  It doesn’t cling on tightly, but my plant is keen to drape its arms around its next-door-neighbour.  Whenever I remove my Leptotes bicolor plant from my Orchidarium, I gently separate its roots from its neighbour – it only takes a second to do this, and so far it hasn’t harmed either plant.

Leptotes bicolor in bud on the 27th February 2018.

I took these pictures of Leptotes bicolor in bud and in bloom in 2018 – this was an exciting moment – this plant’s first flowering inside my Orchidarium!  It was such a thrill to see this miniature orchid in bloom.

I must say that other than very occasionally – when my Leptotes bicolor is in bud – I never provide this orchid with any additional hand misting – this plant is misted by my Orchidarium‘s automated misting system.

Leptotes bicolor, pictured in flower on the 22nd March 2018. This orchid is growing inside my Orchidarium.

By March 2018, my Leptotes bicolor plant was beginning to develop a cushion of moss around the centre of the plant, with pendent roots that hung rather decoratively below.  The moss has continued growing with this Leptotes; both the moss and orchid have a happy relationship.

Leptotes bicolor, pictured in bud, on the 17th February 2019.

In February 2019, my Leptotes bicolor produced two flower buds!  It was so lovely to see this plant producing more than one flower – this was another uplifting moment!

Leptotes bicolor, as pictured on 3rd March 2019.

I’ve read many times that Leptotes bicolor has beautifully scented flowers, so when I bought my first plant I was really quite excited to discover this orchid’s perfume for myself.  However, my Leptotes bicolor plant has now bloomed many times and I’ve never, ever detected any scent, despite having experienced many close encounters with this plant at almost any time of the day or night.

Leptotes bicolour flowers, pictured on the 7th March 2019.

In this picture I took in January 2020, the moss on one side of my Leptotes bicolor specimen’s mount had browned and looked rather unsightly.  This discolouration was caused by my Leptotes bicolor specimen’s eager roots entwining with its neighbour’s mount; in their collusion, the neighbouring plant was drawn towards the Leptotes bicolor, which naturally shielded this side of the Leptotes bicolor‘s mount, preventing the moss from accessing light and moisture.

Leptots bicolor, as pictured on the 18th January 2020.

In January 2020, my Leptotes bicolor specimen again produced two flowers but how did my plant do this year?

Leptotes bicolor, as pictured on the 23rd January 2020.

This picture (above) of my Leptotes bicolor plant was taken in January 2020, when my plant produced two flowers for the second year in a row.

This week I thought it unusual that I hadn’t seen any Leptotes bicolor flowers this year, so I went to my Orchidarium to investigate.  I peered inside my Orchidarium and discovered that this orchid wasn’t in its usual place.  After some searching, I discovered that it seems that sometime (I don’t know exactly when) after taking this image in January 2020, my Leptotes bicolor plant slid or fell into the bottom of my Orchidarium, where the plant was shielded from view by a huge chunk of cork.  It sounds rather careless that I didn’t notice this plant’s absence, but I am growing hundreds of orchids, in various terrariums, in what is a very small space inside my home.

At this plant’s previous blooming in 2020, this Leptotes bicolor specimen produced two flowers. I am sure that if this plant had not been dropped into the chasm of despair at the bottom of my Orchidarium then this plant would have again produced at least two flowers. I must say, I think it’s a miracle that this plant managed to bloom in such poor growing conditions.

In its position inside the chasm of doom, at the base of my Orchidarium, this Leptotes bicolor plant survived despite experiencing significantly lower light levels, poor air circulation, and less moisture and fertiliser, over an extended period!  Surviving this fate is impressive, but when this Leptotes bicolor was finally rescued, I discovered that this plant was in flower – which I think is utterly amazing!  I thought this incident was a superb example to demonstrate just how resilient Leptotes bicolor is!

This is my Leptotes bicolor plant pictured in April 2021, after being retrieved from underneath a substantial piece of cork at the bottom of my Orchidarium. This plant must have slipped down into this recess over a year ago. I am relived to have finally put this miniature orchid back in a higher position within my Orchidarium, where the plant will enjoy improved growing conditions.

I’m grateful to have finally retrieved my Leptotes bicolor plant and restored it to its original position inside my Orchidarium, where this orchid enjoys fairly bright light from my Orchidarium’s LED lighting, daily misting – courtesy of my Orchidarium’s automated misting unit, and continual air circulation – thanks to my Orchidarium’s fans.

Leptotes bicolor has very stylish snow white and shocking pink coloured flowers. Pictured in April 2021.

My Leptotes bicolour is mounted onto a small piece of wood – the mount has a piece of wire through it, which is fashioned into a hook – this attaches onto two suction cups, which stick onto the sides of my Orchidarium‘s glass tank.  Sometimes these suction cups slide down or pop off and a plant takes an unexpected (and unwanted) tumble – which is how my Leptotes bicolor ended up stuck and hidden at the bottom of my tank.

I’ve had this Leptotes bicolor orchid for about five years. Pictured in April 2021.

If you’re looking for an orchid to grow in a terrarium, orchidarium, vivarium, or bottle garden, I would 100% recommend Leptotes bicolor.  This is a fabulous miniature epiphytic orchid species that’s tolerant of low to bright light and different moisture levels; it’s a stunningly beautiful plant that flowers reliably, every year.

Leptotes bicolor’s pure white flowers are highlighted with a vibrant splash of pink. Pictured in April 2021.

Other articles that may interest you…………

For information on growing Phalaenopsis orchids, please click here.

For information on other stunning miniature orchid species that are easy to grow and flower, please click here.

To read about dependable houseplants you can fall in love with and rely on, please click here.

For more floriferous miniature orchid species, please click here.

To see all of the articles I’ve written about my Tall Orchidarium, please click here.

To see all the articles I’ve written about my Rainforest Terrarium, please click here.

I’m growing Leptotes bicolor inside my Orchidarium, to see all of the articles I’ve written about my Orchidarium, please click here.

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One thought on “Leptotes bicolor: a resilient & easy to grow miniature epiphytic orchid species

  1. Rebecca Kelly

    April 28, 2021 at 5:01pm

    Hello Beth,

    Thank you for your very informative posts. I recently acquired a Leptotes bicolor and was very interested to follow the progress of yours, since it came into your collection. I have a couple of comments. Firstly, my Leptotes is mounted “upside down”; the stems are facing downwards. I noticed in the earliest photographs, your Leptotes is mounted with stems facing up, but over the years, they seem to gravitated to falling in a downwards direction. So, is the natural growth of the Leptotes facing downwards?
    Secondly, I wondered if they re-bloom on the same spike, or do they produce a new spike each flowering period?

    Thanks so much,
    Rebecca

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      April 28, 2021 at 5:31pm

      Hi Rebecca

      How lovely that you’ve acquired a Leptotes bicolor – they are such great orchids to grow!

      Yes, Leptotes bicolor produce a new spike for each flowering. There’s nothing to do – I just leave the plant to flower – although, you might want to give your plant an extra spritz of water when it’s in bud. When the flower fades the stem dies back – again nothing to do – Leptotes aren’t like Phalaenopsis, where you might want to cut a flowering stem back to a bud – to try and encourage extra flowering.

      My plant has a downward habit, which I think was a little exacerbated during my plant’s recent adventure – it was stuck down the back of a large piece of cork with only a narrow growing space to call home – so there was little in the way of choice of growing direction. Overall, I find these orchids develop some upright leaves, some facing in a downward direction and some horizontal.

      Leptotes bicolor don’t take up much room. I leave my plant to grow as it wants – I’ve never tried to direct the leaves and I only move the roots away from other plants to prevent tangles.

      Don’t worry; I am sure that your plant is very happy. Good luck!

      Best wishes
      Beth

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