Thelymitra ixioides

Source: Peter Woodard

Thelymitra ixioides

Thelymitra ixioides or spotted sun orchid is a blue orchid.

It is named sun orchid because its flowers bloom on hot, sunny days.

This orchid is very difficult to grow.

There are structural and color differences between the Australian and New Zealand form. The New Zealand form is self-pollinating, the Australia form it is pollinated by insects.

It is part of the family Orchidaceae, sub-family Orchidoideae, tribe Diurideae, sub-tribe Thelymitrinae, genus Thelymitra.


Thelymitra ixioides is a terrestrial orchid with underground tuber.

The leaves are linear to lanceolate, to 20 cm long and 1 cm wide, ribbed, dark green, often reddish at the base.

The inflorescence is up to 60 cm tall, with 3-9 flowers. Perianth segments are up to 22 mm long and about 12 mm wide, blue and rounded to pink and elongated (sometimes with very short claw). Sepals are sometimes a different shade than the petals but most plants have dark spots on the petals and the dorsal sepal. The column is up to 5 mm long, upright, bluish. Midlobe has dense rows of long, colorful calli; the accessory lobes are columnar, upright with toothed tip. The side lobes are inclined upright, with terminal tufts of white, pink or purple hair.

Growth cycle:

The annual growth cycle consists of 6-8 months of vegetative growth under cool (5-20 °C max, 0-14 °C min) and wet conditions and 4-6 months as dormant tubers in hot (18-42 °C max, 12 -30 °C min) and dry conditions.

The new tuber is produced in winter to spring. Each tuber sends a shoot to the surface in the fall and the leaves grow rapidly in the late fall to early winter when the temperature has dropped and the rain started.


Australia, New Zealand


Eucalyptus forests and heath, from coast to low mountains


Common names:

Spotted sun orchid, spotted blue sun orchid


Thelymitra carnea var. robusta, Thelymitra iridioides, Thelymitra ixioides var. carnea, Thelymitra lilacina


Thelymitra: from the Greek thely (woman) and mitra (hat) because of the sterile stamen on the upper part of the column, called mitra
Ixioides: resembling Ixia, for its resemblance to the genus Ixia, a genus in the Iris family



80% perlite or Seramis and 20% organic material such as wood shavings or sawdust, sphagnum …




Start watering when growth resumes and then keep the substrate moist. When the leaves wither, the plant enters rest and the tuber should be kept completely dry.


0-20 °C during vegetative growth

12-42 °C during rest


Cultivated plants need to be pollinated manually.

Seeds are harvested just before the pods pops open.

Sow in the pot from the mother plant or in a flask.