Thelymitra villosa (Custard Orchid)

Scientific Name

Thelymitra villosa Lindl.

Common Names

Custard Orchid


Thelymitra pardalina

Scientific Classification

Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Tribe: Diurideae
Subtribe: Thelymitrinae
Genus: Thelymitra


Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: September to November


Thelymitra villosa is a terrestrial perennial deciduous herb with an underground tuber and a single, erect leaf at the base of the flowering stem. The leaf is up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, up to 2 inches (5 cm) wide, and covered with white, silky hairs. Up to 20 flowers, each up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter, are borne on an up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall flowering stem. The flowers are yellow with varying amounts of red-brown spots and blotches. The distinctive column is yellow, reddish, or brown with a glandular mid-lobe and hairy lateral lobes joined to each other.

Thelymitra villosa - Custard Orchid
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USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Sun Orchids can be very tricky in cultivation. However, most are fairly amenable, and some are very easy. All plants are summer dormant and rest as tuberoids. Plants emerge in late summer and flower in late winter, spring, and early summer.

Culture as sunny as possible. In milder climates, garden culture is possible. Frost hardy up to 23°F (-5°C). Regular watering during the growing period is essential. Fertilize monthly until flowering. Reduce watering with the onset of flowers and stop as the leaves die back. Completely dry during dormancy. Occasionally a light spray of water for small plants and seedlings to prevent dehydration. If grown inside, move plants temporary outside in late summer as cool nights and some rain will stimulate plants into the new growing season. See more at: How to Grow and Care for Sun Orchids.


It is endemic to the southwestern corner of Western Australia.


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