One who is new to the world of orchids is likely to have a chance encounter with some eye-catching orchids at a supermarket, florist shop or horticultural show. Nowadays, those orchids on display are most likely to be the latest cultivars from a genus of orchids called Phalaenopsis, which has furnished many modern decors, forming a lively staple of contemporary interior designs. Compact, long-lasting and shade-loving, countless living specimens of Phalaenopsis or moth orchid have undoutedly become one of the most popular and ubiquitous potted plants to be admired in everyday life. Containing more than 60 species, the genus is native to southern China, Taiwan, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia (including Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia), New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Queensland. The genera Doritis and Kingidium, as well as the Doritaenopsis hybrids have been annexed into Phalaenopsis on account of DNA evidence, even though not every specialist in this field accepts these taxonomic changes. Species Phalaenopsis aside, there is now an astonishing variety of Phalaenopsis hybrids, cultivars and clones available for all and sundry to acquire at reasonable prices, especially since the advent of the twenty-first century.
During a visit to any of the abovementioned venues, one is also likely to make their first purchase of a potted Phalaenopsis as a present for a romantic occasion such as Valentine’s Day, or as an endearing gift for a beloved mate, or as a living token of appreciation for a special person, such as one’s mother, who is likely to adore an orchid even more than a chrysanthemum, the latter being the traditional gift given on Mother’s Day 💐🎁, as the following examples demonstrate.
Of course, one may do a lot more than just purchasing a potted Phalaenopsis for one’s mother on the special day. Those who intend to shower their mothers with a rich combination of exciting treats and memorable delights may choose to celebrate the occasion with not just sentiments, songs, quotes, messages, poems, prayers, gifts, crafts, recipes and articles, but also flowering orchids via beautiful presentation of Photos, Videos, Computer & Web Graphics🖥, Paintings🖼, Floral Arrangements💐, Artistic Displays🎑, Ornaments & Decorations🎍, Shows & Markets🏬.
oO*♥*ೋღ 💗 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY 💗 ღೋ *♥*Oo ☘☘▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ஜ۩۞۩ஜ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬☘☘ ▀███▄─▄███▀▄███▄███▄▀███▄─▄███▀ ─▐███████▌─█████████─▐███████▌ ─▐█▌▀█▀▐█▌──▀█████▀──▐█▌▀█▀▐█▌ ▄███▄─▄███▄───▀█▀───▄███▄─▄███▄ ☘☘▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ஜ۩۞۩ஜ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬☘☘
Mother’s Day is most commonly celebrated on the second Sunday of May, a date adopted by the greatest number of countries, nearly 100 in total. For countries with pronounced seasons in the northern hemisphere, this date occurs in late spring, which is within the peak flowering period of most Phalaenopsis. In contrast, those who live in the southern hemisphere may have few or no flowering Phalaenopsis unless they happen to live in the warmer tropics or have a greenhouse with temperatures being maintained between 16°C and 28°C (61°F and 82°F). Though higher temperatures are tolerated, most Phalaenopsis orchids require daytime temperatures declining below 27°C (81°F) for flower initiation. On the one hand, there is a definite inhibition of flowering at temperatures exceeding 29°C (84°F), though some Phalaenopsis with yellow flowers are able to bloom well at higher temperatures. On the other hand, if the temperature is too cold for a long period, the inflorescence will stop growing or grow very slowly.
Phalaenopsis orchids cultivated in very warm climates may stop growing in peak summer, and are more prone to sunburn or poor health in prolonged, elevated temperatures. Heat stress can be alleviated using air conditioning or misting. Damping down by wetting the floor and walls is usually only practicable in a greenhouse. Conversely, heating should be provided when temperatures drop below 10°C (50°F) to prevent the occurrence of cell damage, cold shock and abscission (leaf drop).
It is definitely worthwhile to maintain flowering plants in good condition by avoiding excessive temperature fluctuations and minimizing exposure to fumes and pollutants whilst ensuring adequate humidity and good ventilation, considering that Phalaenopsis orchids are well known for their long-lasting flowers, which can be enjoyed for about three months, occasionally even longer.
Having durable blossoms aside, a seedling Phalaenopsis can start to flower in about one and a half years, sometimes even sooner. Indeed, a well-grown Phalaenopsis specimen imparting a floriferous and spectacular display can be achieved in just a few years, so much so that one may lean on the cheerful spirit of Mary Poppins and sing a little ditty to tout the profuse nature of the genus as follows:
A strong, mature and well-grown Phalaenopsis is able to produce plentiful flowers in the ripeness of time, and to sustain those flowers for months. Many Phalaenopsis orchids may flower more than once a year. On exceptionally well-grown plants, flowering can be almost continuous for much of the year. However, if a Phalaenopsis orchid becomes weak for any reason, or has less than four leaves, or its leaves are becoming flaccid, then all of its flowers and racemes should be promptly removed so that the plant may recover and not perish. On the other hand, an inflorescence that had produced flowers in the past can remain viable and be left on a healthy plant so that it may grow additional raceme(s) and bear flowers after a few months. Stake any inflorescence that is very long, branched or heavy to prevent unnecessary movement, overbending or damage, especially in a crowded or windy area. One should bear in mind that flowering repeatedly over long period(s) can considerably weaken a plant, not to mention that a Phalaenopsis orchid in flower is unlikely to make much vegetative growth until the flowering is over.
A Phalaenopsis orchid is usually judged when the majority of its flowers are already open. Early abort of buds or flowers is always a risk to be avoided, given that if there is even one flower that is damaged or absent, then the plant is no longer fit for the competition show bench. Floral perfection is always difficult to achieve unless a Phalaenopsis destined to be judged at a show has been grown indoors or in a greenhouse with adequate protection from the ravages of pests, diseases and weather. The form and presentation of the raceme or inflorescence of a Phalaenopsis is also important. Ideally, a budding plant should be turned or repositioned sparingly or not at all so that the orientation of the flowers towards the source of light can remain the same.
Some Phalaenopsis specimens destined for amassing resplendent glories and top awards at orchid shows have been deliberately deprived of their normal flowering for two or more years by their ardent growers, who diligently remove their flower spikes as soon as they appear so that the plants may fully concentrate their energy on producing unadulterated vegetative growths capable of supporting massive floral sprays at the right time to compete at certain designated shows later.
In an orchid show, the Phalaenopsis genus is always given its own competition classes, except in the novice section, where it is usually grouped with other orchid genera. An example is shown below:
- Exhibition type
- White and White with Coloured Lip and also Blush type
- Pink, Lavender, Reddish Purple
- Stripes, All Colour Combinations
- Spotted, including Fine Spots, French Spots, Harlequins, etc. – All Colours excluding Yellow
- Novelty type – All Other Colours – Red, Bronze, Blue, Orange and Violacea types
- Miniature Multi-Floral type
- Yellow and Yellow with Spots
As can be seen, the classification is mainly based on the colours and markings on the flower. The species and hybrids found within the genus of Phalaenopsis are diverse enough to afford even larger and more complex classification so as to include other floral characteristics, such as having scented flowers or possessing peloric blooms, the latter being a result of mutation whereby the petals assume the morphological structures of the labellum, leading to the flower developing three lips, which impart additional complexity, symmetry or beauty. Other features of interest can include variegated leaves, or being so tiny a plant as to be deemed a miniature. Regardless of the classification, it is a common practice that species and hybrid Phalaenopsis orchids compete separately.
Taken by Kerri Roland with NIKON D5100 camera at the 2013 Spring Show and Leo Li with NIKON D300 camera at the 2014 Autumn Show held by the Queensland Orchid Society, the following photographs provide some excellent examples of Phalaenopsis specimens exhibited under the aforementioned competition classes:
Click any image below to see gallery images displayed in a full-size carousel view, where individual photos can be commented on by anybody who wishes to admire, critique or identify the orchid specimens.
That Phalaenopsis orchids are very satisfying eye candies 😍 is a foregone conclusion, as one can amply gauge and ascertain from the myriad photos and videos presented here. That they can consistently humour the nose with scents and smells 👃 remains hopeful at best. The renewed interest in breeding orchids specifically for their fragrance as well as the worldwide progress achieved in fragrance classification, competition and judging will result in more perfumed cultivars being available to orchid enthusiasts and the public in the future. Some hybridizers are endeavouring to introduce scent into Phalaenopsis. Consider yourself to be lucky if you own a slightly scented Phalaenopsis, as most are quite odourless, having no detectable fragrance to even the keenest human nose. Whilst a few species Phalaenopsis are mildly fragrant, their flowers last only one month, though some of these species can indeed delight us visually with their mottled leaves and purple undersides, which are lacking in most of the modern cultivars, having only plain green leaves. All in all, it is still somewhat ironic that the widespread and long-lasting flowers of Phalaenopsis are largely unscented, whereas the specialist and short-lived blooms of Stanhopea orchids are prodigiously fragrant.
Except during very early morning or late afternoon, Phalaenopsis should never be subjected to direct sunshine unless the daytime illumination has been filtered by a curtain or shade cloth. Scorching or yellowing leaves is the result of too much sunlight or insufficient shading, whereas overly dark green and lanky growths result from inadequate light or too much shading. As a comparison or general rule, Phalaenopsis prefers just slightly more light than that required by Saintpaulia (African violet). 10 to 16 hours of illumination is usually sufficient.
Water a potted Phalaenopsis orchid when the growing medium inside the pot has partially dried out or when the pot definitely feels less heavy when lifted by hand since the previous watering. Judicious watering will ensure healthy roots and thus avoid root rot caused by overwatering. During the cooler months, it is advisable to prevent rot or infection due to excess moisture by watering Phalaenopsis in the morning so that any lingering water on the orchid, especially in the crown, has fully evaporated before sunset. As a rule of thumb, increase the frequency of watering during warm, dry and/or windy days; reduce the frequency of watering during cool, cloudy and/or rainy days.
Fertilize weekly and weakly at half or a quarter of the recommended dose or concentration. Apply less water and fertilizer during cooler months, unless a plant is still vigorously growing at peak condition. Wherever possible, use a combination of tonics (such as seaweed extract or worm juice) and balanced fertilizers in rotation to promote robust growth and better health. Occasional foliar feeding can be beneficial but not essential.
Phalaenopsis orchids are epiphytic plants requiring a growing medium with good aeration and moisture retention. The growing medium should be adequately porous to supply air, water and nutrients to the roots of Phalaenopsis. It must also provide physical support and firm anchorage to the orchid growing on it. Depending on personal preference, watering regime, growing conditions and climate, Phalaenopsis can be successfully cultivated in pots filled with sphagnum moss or a bark-based mixture. Since sphagnum moss can retain moisture much longer than a bark-based mixture, it is usually more suitable for growers who wish to water less frequently, or who live in warmer or windier climates, or who wish to mount rather than pot up their Phalaenopsis orchids. Other ingredients can be added or used in varying combinations to create more complex growing media. For instance, bark may be mixed with some charcoal and pearlite, whereas sphagnum moss may be combined with peat, diatomite, pearlite, scoria, bark, charcoal, activated carbon, dolomite and trace elements. Those who delight in trying more unusual approaches to cultivating Phalaenopsis orchids can venture into the hydroponic realm, as shown in the post entitled “Self-Watering: Circulatory and Hydroponic Systems with Planting Pipes, Glass Bowls and Biological Ponds”.
Phalaenopsis may be grown singly or collectively in a pot. A non-porous pot is better than a porous one as the former retains moisture longer, and is less likely to have roots clinging to its interior surface, thus reducing root damage caused by the action of repotting at a later time. The pot should have at least one drainage hole at the bottom and an optional saucer for catching excess fluid, unless the Phalaenopsis is intended to be grown hydroponically or cultivated in a bowl, bottle garden or terrarium.
Renew the growing medium or potting mix if it starts to deteriorate and become sour or soggy. Choose a non-porous pot that allows the mature plant(s) to grow for one to two years, after which the mature plant(s) should be repotted or divided. Repotting is not the same as dividing. The latter, namely dividing, is done when divisions of a potted specimen or clump are required for propagation or for giving away; or when a potted specimen or clump is considered too large and reduction in size is required.
A phalaenopsis orchid will occasionally produce aerial roots from its leaf axils. Dangling above or outside the pot, these adventitious roots are best left to their own devices, as they may deteriorate or perish not long after being pushed into or buried under the growing medium. If the aerial roots become very long, they should be trained carefully and handled sparingly as they are brittle and prone to breakage.
Hybridizations are best left to experts having the necessary conditions and laboratory skills to cultivate new plants by germinating dust-like seeds, growing seedlings in sterile flasks, flowering them en masse, and selecting the best strains or forms to produce viable cultivars and superior clones.
Occasionally, Phalaenopsis may produce a keiki, a small plant growing from one node along the flower stem, especially when the plant has been induced by prolonged exposure to high temperatures during the final phase of spike growth, or when the node has been treated with keiki paste containing cytokinin hormone. In addition, some Phalaenopsis can produce basal keikis at the base of the orchid. These keikis can be left attached to the mother plant if a large specimen clump is desirable. Alternatively, they can be detached and grown separately when they become sufficiently large to thrive on their own.
Since the health of Phalaenopsis cannot always be fully guaranteed, it is prudent to detect and identify various signs and symptoms of Phalaenopsis orchids looking subpar or suffering from degenerating health caused by flaws or oversights in cultivation.
Withered leaves and flowers should be removed to keep the orchids clean and tidy. If cutting into living tissues is required, then refrain from using any cutting tool on different plants without thorough sterilization to prevent the spread of diseases. In other words, always sterilize the tool after using it on one orchid before using it on another. As a precaution, seal any fresh wound on Phalaenopsis with cinnamon powder without delay.
Plants affected by viral diseases are incurable and should be discarded to spare healthy plants from being infected, though any diagnosis of viral infection is by no means straightforward, conclusive or definitive without laboratory testing. Whilst commercial or professional growers tend to spray their collection on a regular basis to treat or ward off pests and diseases, such regimented procedures can easily exceed the modest experience, means and willingness of many novices and amateurs.
In any case, prevention is better than cure. One should aim to care for their Phalaenopsis orchids as best as possible since well-grown specimens are more resilient to damage and disturbance than their weaker counterparts.
Be vigilant about the presence of common pests such as ants, scale insects, mealy bugs, thrips, slugs and (red) spider mites.
Moth orchids, easily found at Trader Joes and some other groceries, are relatively easy house plants. You could not have convinced me of that several years ago.
Years went by when I admired orchids, but wouldn’t bring one home. I assumed that something so beautiful and exotic looking needed specialized care in a greenhouse from a master gardener in order to survive.
I credit Trader Joes, and their continual display or beautiful orchids right inside the door, for giving me the confidence to try growing my first Phalaenopsis, or Moth orchid, several years ago. Since orchids of all colors, sizes, and varieties are right there within sight of the coffee and bananas, I finally chose a beautiful little purple orchid, in a 3″ pot, priced at just under $10.00.
I brought it home very gingerly, holding it to protect the flowers, and immediately went to the internet to research the finer points of its care. I even ordered Steven Frowine’s Orchids For Dummies somewhere along the line to make sure I didn’t miss any crucial tidbits for keeping my little orchid alive.
And I learned…. it’s just not that complicated.
Moth orchids are epiphytes, living in the branches of trees in tropical forests. Most of these orchids originate in tropical China, India, Papua New Guinea, and tropical areas of Australia. Taiwan has a huge nursery trade in orchids, but more and more are propagated right here in the United States, which is one reason the price has come down and the selection increased.
Knowing that orchids live in the canopy of rain forests tells us they don’t need much room for their roots to grown in a pot, they like heat and humidity, and they are naturally tough plants.
For all the delicate beauty of each blossom, these flowers are much sturdier, and longer lasting, than most other flowers we might buy on a potted plant. An individual orchid blossom can be expected to remain beautiful for several weeks. The spray or flowers may remain in bloom over a period of months.
Although an orchid may bloom for months, once the bloom is finished, the plant will require a long rest. An individual plant may only bloom once or twice a year, if that. Coaxing an orchid back into bloom can take some effort, which is why many people quietly discard their orchid once the blooms fade.
I’ve never easily discarded a plant, especially while it is still alive, and so I simply move the orchid plant and continue caring for it when the blooms fade. And by doing that, I’ve learned that the moth orchid will rebloom, if I’m simply patient and allow the plant to recover its energy. To rebloom, orchids require sufficient light, sufficient water, sufficient nutrition, and a difference of about 20 degrees between daytime and night time temperatures for several weeks. Lacking any of these, they may not set buds.
Moth orchids appreciate bright sunlight, but can’t take a day of direct sunlight. They need a bit of shading, especially in summer. If the leaves of your orchid begin to elongate, or turn very dark green, it is an indication that more light is needed. Orchids on display, away from bright lights, need to be moved back into the light to recover when the display is dismantled.
Most growers plant orchids in sphagnum moss. While the moss holds the roots in the pot ( or more likely in a little plastic drinking cup), the moss offers the plant little or no nutrition. I’ve found that keeping the orchid in a west or northwest facing window, keeping it moist, and feeding with a dilute solution of orchid food will allow it to rebloom. Leaving the bloom scape in place, once the actual flowers have fallen off, may hasten reblooming. More than once, new buds have formed on an old bloom scape.
Although most of an orchid’s roots remain in its pot, Phalaenopsis will also grow silvery aerial roots. These roots can absorb humidity directly from the air. They would normally help anchor the plant on the branch of the tree where it was growing. If you move the moth orchid out of a pot into a wooden basket, or onto a branch of wood for display, these roots will help anchor the plant in place. I like the unusual appearance of these roots which grow as the plant matures.
Many orchids respond well to a good soak once a week or so, and then several days to dry a bit before the next watering. Orchids require a little more water while buds develop to sustain their blooming, and less water during their period of rest.
Most orchids are purchased while in bloom, and the bloom scape is supported by a thin stick of wood or wire. Little spring loaded clips hold the bloom scape against its support. When the bloom is finished, I remove these supports, and save them for use again later. The bloom scape doesn’t naturally grow straight up for a tall display of blossoms.
When the plant begins to grow a new blooming stem, you might want to replace the support and gradually train the scape up the support. If you leave it to its own devices, it will probably grow horizontally, or even hang down under the weight of the flowers.
Orchids can be displayed in a variety of ways. While they look pretty even in the little nursery pots they are purchased in, I also like to work them into more elaborate arrangements. I will sometimes construct an arrangement with ferns, ivy, small Rex Begonias, and orchids in a pretty bowl. While the other plants are removed from their nursery pots and planted into potting soil in the bowl, I leave the orchid in the little plastic cup from the grower.
With a base of gravel in the bottom of the bowl for drainage, I’ll leave space to set the orchid, in its cup, on the gravel, and then fill in around it with small stones and potting soil. It is important that the orchid get good drainage. It shouldn’t sit in water or overly damp soil. This allows you to have some control over how much water you give the orchid, versus how much water the other plants in the arrangement get.
In several weeks, when the orchid has finished blooming, it is easy to pull the plant out in its cup. The orchid can go in a window sill to rest and recover, and you can pop a fresh orchid into the arrangement to keep it fresh.
A blooming orchid is such a special joy during winter. My eye always turns towards the orchid display in January and February, when very little is blooming out in the garden. During this stark season, when the world has melted into browns and greys, a bright orchid brings so much energy and freshness. Orchids demand very little from us, and bring such happiness. If you don’t already have an orchid in your home, I hope you’ll consider adopting one to bring flowers back into your home for the remainder of the winter.
- Moth Orchid (forestgardenblog.wordpress.com)
- Culture Characteristics for Phalaenopsis (amebse.nchu.edu.tw)
- Phalaenopsis (en.wikipedia.org)
- Self-Watering: Circulatory and Hydroponic Systems with Planting Pipes, Glass Bowls and Biological Ponds (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- Bark Products from New Zealand and South Australia for Growing Orchids in Australia 🇦🇺 (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- Celebrate 2015 Mother’s Day with Orchids, Arts, Gifts and Shows 💐🎁 (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- Celebrating 2014 Mother’s Day with Queensland Orchid Society (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- Glorious Orchid Specimens in 2013 Spring Show Competition (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- Leo Li and His Exceptional Orchid Photography 📷📸 (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- Orchid Blooms as Eye Candies 😍 (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- The Scents and Smells of Orchids ❀👃✾ (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- Ikebana Lessons with Orchids: Minimalist Flower Arrangement 🎍💐 (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Romantic Orchid Display, Art, Poetry and Game 💝🕊💌💘 (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- Decorating with an Orchid Flower or Two ✾ (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
- Mother’s Day (pottedplantsociety.wordpress.com)
- Mother’s Day Preview in the Store (pottedplantsociety.wordpress.com)
- Mother’s Day (queenslandbegonia.wordpress.com)
- Mother’s Day Preview in the Store (queenslandbegonia.wordpress.com)
- Mother’s Day (rhsq.wordpress.com)
- Mother, May I? (stephaniemartinglennon.com)
- Blossom (dailypost.wordpress.com)