Orchids: Phalaenopsis lueddemanniana

Like the preceding genus of orchids, the members of Phalaenopsis do not form pseudo-bulbs. Many species grow as epiphytes in the permanently warm and damp tropical regions of south-east Asia, neigh-bouring islands and Australia. Those that grow on the ground are found on steep rock faces in thick layers of moss or on the base of ferns. A look at the roots of these plants reveals that they are relatively few in number, thick and covered with a whitish coating called velamen, which is a corky layer that absorbs water and the nutrients contained therein. The fleshy leaves have a thick epidermis that keeps evaporation to the minimum.

The species from the Philippines is ex-tremely variable. The elliptical leaves are about 25 cm (10 in) long and 7 to 8 cm (2% to 3 in) wide. The scape is relatively short, barely equalling the length of the leaves; the flowers are only 4 to 5 cm (1 l/a to 2 in) wide and are coloured white with red horizontal stripes that are variable in form and in-tensity of colour. In cultivation they usually appear in early spring or in May.

As in many species of this genus, older plants often produce a stolon that gives rise to new, young plants which form roots (in this genus stolons are often also formed on the scapes after flowering has finished). Young, established plants that have not been severed from the parent plant produce flowers quite readily, more readily than adult specimens.

Of the approximately 70 species, the one chiefly used for hybridization was P. amabilis, found from Indonesia through New Guinea to Australia, which has large, white flowers (about 10 cm [4 in] across) with yellow-red markings on the lip. From the lovely P. schilleriana, hybrids have inherited pink flowers and often they also have attractive leaves marked crosswise with silvery bands. Hybrids have been obtained from crossings between many species of this genus as well as other related genera such as Doritis.

Phalaenopsis require constant heat and moisture without any definite period of rest. They should be grown in a light compost, the same as the orchids of the preceding genus, and the leaves should be misted frequently. Though they do best in a plant-case they will also do well in a room that is only occasionally aired. Ample shade is also a precondition of success.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Orchids: Phalaenopsis lueddemanniana

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