With some 800 species and found all over the world in both tropical and temperate zones, Habenaria is one of the largest and most cosmopolitan genera.

Being a perennial and deciduous orchid, in late autumn every part above ground dies back and towards the end of winter one or more new shoots will emerge from the underground root tubers. The stems are erect and vary in lenght from 20 to 70 cm and the inflorescence is terminal.

The leaves are oval or round, and are either borne along the stem or only at the base. If basal, the leaves lie flat on the ground.

I grow Hab. lindleyanna, a species that has round leaves that lie flat on the ground. I place fine chopped pine needles under the leaves to encourage air circulation and prevent the leaves from touching the ground and rot.

Habenarias flower mostly in late summer, later than most terrestrial orchids do. The upright terminal inflorescence carries 8 to over 20 blooms. The blooms are small up to 25mm, rarely much larger, and are very delicate, some are very odd looking and last for about 15 days. The colors vary from white, to yellow, to orange, to red or combinations with green. The flowers do emit a distinct scent in the evening to attract moths.

Late autumn, the plants will shed the leaves and stay dormant for a few months. When dormant, Habenarias do not require any watering; however, it wise to prevent the soil from drying completely, unless you want the tubers to dry out. Watering commences again when the new shoot appears.

During spring, summer and early autumn Habenarias are treated like any other orchid (as far as watering and fertilizing is concern).

Pest: Aphids and spider mites can be a problem.

Diseases: I worry about rust all the time. Leaves that touch the ground will rot.

From the so many hundreds of species, only a few are found in cultivation.

The ones I like are: Hab. lindleyanna (white); Hab. Rhodocheila (pink to red); Hab. radiata (white); Hab. dentata (white); Hab. xanthicheila (yellow);