The calanthe offered are the small group of species that are both hardy and near evergreen. There are some 180 different species but only a few are evergreen and even fewer are hardy. This group comes from various areas of the Far East. In particular several are Japanese native species.
In nature they come from a variety of environments but most are mountainous and with a good rainfall. They prefer a soil with a high organic content.
These orchids have pseudo-bulbs that lie just under the soil and most species have long roots. The majority of the hardy species flower in the spring with only two flowering in the mid summer. Flower spikes develop from mature buds at the end of the pseudo-bulbs growing out of the centre of the developing leaves. Flowers open from the bottom of the spike and overall will last for about six weeks in flower. At the same time the new leaves will develop to full size.
After flowering new roots start to develop under the slowly forming new pseudo-bulb which is produced at the base of the clump of leaves. In the latter part of the year the new bud(s) forms at the end of the new pseudo-bulb. The buds may remain below the surface or just poke out of the ground in the autumn. If there is frost during the winter the old leaves will be come damaged but I do not cut them off until the spring.
Plants grown in pots re in a mix of peat based compost and pumice/perlite. I use a pot which is about 1/3 larger then the root mass. they can be grown in an alpine house all the year or can be grown outside in the summer in a shady place. They sit on capillary matting in large low troughs in shade. This encourages flowering which appears to be much better when the plants are pot bound.Plants are sprayed every third day with Rainmix in order to maximise growth throughout the season. I stop feeding in November. The compost is kept damp at all times unless I want to hold back plants for late flowering. Cut off the old leaves in March. As the leaves develop I increase watering and by June the pots are sitting 15mm water at all times and watered from above every day. Watering is reduced in early autumn but the compost remains damp.
Plants grown in the garden need a shady damp place. Planting with ferns, hostas or other woodland plants produces a good micro environment. Add organic matter to make a more woodland environment. They will take a soil temperature down to minus 6C and the old leaves are likely to be frosted off in the winter. Feeding is advantageous. Clean off the old leaves in the spring.