There’s no secret that from the point of view of popularity and ease of access, that phalaenopsis orchids, especially the complex hybrids, are one of the most mass produced artificial epiphytic plants out there. Found in more homes around the world than probably any other orchid or houseplant, these elegant beauties stand the test of time thanks to the diverse selection of colors, shapes, fragrances, sizes, patterns and, of course, ease of care, flower longevity, and reputation for being tolerant to all sorts of growing environments.
The down side to their popularity, availability (supermarkets, flower shops and hardware stores) and low price tags is that in business terms they are marketed as a commodity to be discarded, by which i mean you buy or receive them as a gift you take them home to enjoy the blooms and after they faded you throw them out. Similar to cut flowers or the Christmas Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), the importance of the longevity of the “peasant orchid” is, in my opinion, overlooked.
This does not mean that discarding newly acquired phalaenopsis orchids after the blooms have faded is necessarily common practice. For most of us self proclaimed “phal. nuts”, they are a joy to grow and re-bloom, especially that with time and age comes an amazing display of long lasting blooms.
So, with that being said, let’s get to why I love phalaenopsis orchids and why I also believe you should, too.
Most of the complex phalaenopsis hybrids found on the market today are a result of heterosis. In short, they have been genetically enhanced through the hybridization process. This results in an organism which manifests faster growth and is generally more robust than the parents involved.
“By hybridization we not only obtained amazing colors and new patterns on orchids, we also obtained more vigorous hybrids in some cases. This vigor refers mainly to the adaptability of the orchid, its robustness and ease of care and flowering in not so ideal conditions.” – orchidnature.com
Through heterosis many artificial hybrids have been developed and enhanced, so if you are a novice to growing orchids, don’t shy away from bringing a phalaenopsis orchid home with you the next time you happen to come across one you really love.
Ease of indoor culture
When it comes to ease of indoor culture the phalaenopsis orchid is among the easiest orchids one can grow. The hybrid vigor we discussed earlier makes it easier for these babies to be grown in all sorts of setups. Depending on where you are in the world and the climate you live in, here are some ways you can grow your phalaenopsis (just keep in mind that they are epiphytic and as such you can’t grow them in potting soil):
- Sphagnum moss
- Pine bark
- Water culture
Mix and match to see what works best for you and your environment. A side note to all of this and a important one is that while phalaenopsis are easy to care for, like most plants they do have an Achilles’ heel, and that is the crown and leaf joints of the plant.
In their natural habitat these plants grow attached to trees, most of the time facing down, so even when it rains, no water ever stays too long on the plant itself. In addition to that, constant air movement aids in evaporation process. In our homes, for the most part, we grow them facing up with their roots in a pot, which makes them susceptible, to crown and stem rot, if we are not careful, so always make sure that no water is left standing in the crown or between the leaves of your orchid. Crown and stem rot is very difficult to treat and among the leading factors that contribute to the phalaenopsis orchid’s death.
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Another amazing aspect about phalaenopsis orchids is the diverse selection of flower colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes. Depending on your available space, color and pattern preferences, you can be sure there is a phalaenopsis orchid for everyone.
So I hear you’re looking for something special. Well then, have you tried some novelty phalaenopsis, yet? Let’s first clarify what is exactly a novelty phalaenopsis, but first a quick disclaimer:
While I would have loved to embark on the amazing adventure that is the science of taxonomy, that has not been the case. I am a mere hobbyist. So, for a more in depth understanding of what a novelty phalaenopsis is, make sure to filter the information before you, and check the references below.
A novelty phalaenopsis hybrid is, in short, a crossing between primarily interspecific hybrids (different species within the same genus) of subgenus Polychilos a classification introduced by E. A. Christenson:
“According to Christenson, there are five subgenera: Proboscidioides which includes Phal. lowii; Aphyllae which includes Phal. hainanensis, stobartiana, and braceana; Parishianae which includes Phal.appendiculata, gibbosa and parishii; Polychilos which includes many species used in today’s modern hybrids such as Phal. mannii, fuscata, amboinensis, bellina, violacea, fasciata, gigantea, hieroglyphicaand cornu-cervi;”- AOS, Carlos Fighetti (Sep, 2006)-“Phalaenopsis”
This crossing of primary hybrids or species has introduced unique colors and patterns often accompanied by some unique fragrances. Yes, you heard me right, fragrances: from a fresh citrus scent to a more fruity cocktail blend and even a hint of classic rose. And if this sounds as intriguing to you as it was for me when I first started to collect novelty phalaenopsis, then I am sure there is a bright color and fragrant beauty out there for you, just waiting to be part of your collection :D. And while fragrance is a personal thing, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
As many of you may already know, the supermarkets or common home improvement stores can hide some beautiful hidden treasures, such as:
- Doritaenopsis Sogo Yenlin with its small purple flowers,
- Doritaenopsis Yu Pin Lady ‘Magic Art’ with it’s interesting and amazing patterns,
- Phalaenopsis Chiada Francis ‘Picotee’,
- Phalaenopsis Reyoung Edie,
- Doritaenopsis Sogo Allen,
- Phalaenopsis Baldan’s Kaleidoscope,
- Phalaenopsis Wild peach
- The lovely coral dream of Doritaenopsis Surf Song.
Alright everyone, this has been my take on why i love phalaenopsis orchids, hopefully you love them as well! 😀
- Orchidnature.com- “What is hybrid vigor with Orchids + examples”
- Orchid Digest (Vol 77,No 4- Oct,Nov, Dec, 2013), Peter Lin –“Novelty phalaenopsis”
- AOS, Carlos Fighetti (Sep, 2006)-“Phalaenopsis”
- Orchid photo by JoaoBOliver from Pixabay
- Featured photo by suju from Pixabay
- Orchid on tree photo by Philipp Kleindienst from Pixabay
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