This is an unusual orchid that grows well in frost-free Sydney gardens (ht 45-60 cm). There around 15 species and a number of cultivars of these evergreen epiphytes, which hail from Central and South America. The exotic-looking flowers are fragrant and marked with intriguing spots and stripes of maroon or purple, and they appear in flushes up to six times a year, but most profusely in autumn or early winter. One species is Zygopetalum mackaii, which has brown-spotted, green flowers with purple-veined white lips. Zygopetalum intermedium has waxy greenish-yellow flowers blotched with reddish-brown or crimson.
They are best grown in a spot with part or dappled shade, with protection from the afternoon sun. However, they can tolerate winter sun. They can be grown in a pot or basket filled with orchid bark, or affixed to a tree, using a stocking filled with orchid bark as a pouch to hold the plant until it affixes itself to the trunk. Water the plants regularly and give occasional sprays of liquid fertiliser. Propagation is by division of the 'pseudobulbs'.