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Phalaenopsis orchid

Posted by Aldo Colombo on

In a few years, the orchid Phalaenopsis has become the most sold apartment plant in the world, thanks mainly to the beauty of the long inflorescences, available in different colors: white to purple, red and pink to yellow, up to many varied varieties, maculate d or labelled with a different color. Today's hybrids are also distinguished by size (from Mini to Jumbo) and number of stems: the higher their number and the higher the value of the plant. Also very much appreciated its price in relation to their value, since it can be grown in millions of specimens in fully automated greenhouses, with a low incidence of labour costs.

With due care, the first flowering lasts for a long time and, with a little skill, it is possible to make the plants last for a long time and to make them replenish.

In nature, it is a plant native to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, an epiphytic plant that lives above other trees, extracting water and nutrients from the humidity of the air thanks to its aerial roots. As a spontaneous plant, it lives in the underwoods of the tropical regions, so in our homes it should be treated as a shadow plant, especially in spring/summer, while in winter it can also have more light. In our apartments it requires high temperatures in the cold periods: if you go down below the 20th century, in winter the drop of the buds occurs. Care must then be taken not to expose it to air currents.

Also be careful not to keep the ripening fruit (especially apples, pears and bananas) that emits a natural gas (ethylene) in the vicinity of the plant: you would also have the early fall of the buds. For the same reason, it is better to remove the withered flowers from the stems.

For watering, we must bear in mind that the Phalaenopsis prefers only one abundant watering compared to many with little water. A simple way to choose the right time is to adjust according to the weight of the plant: if you lift it and feel it is light, it is time to wet; if the pot is still heavy, you can wait. It would be preferable to use demineralised water, since the Phalaenopsis is sensitive to excess salts. It is very useful to keep the air around the plant wet with sprays.

She should be given a nutritional supplement periodically: excellent fertilisers specific to orchids are available, to be dosed according to the instructions on the label.

To improve, the Phalaenopsis requires a slight'shock'in temperature and humidity: the flower induction takes place from a warm and humid environment to a cooler and drier one.

It can be transplanted every couple of years by maintaining the same previous vase: just change the substrate, the most used is the so-called bark, i.e. the bark of pine or other plants, and eliminate the old sunken roots. In fact, the substrate has only one support function.

Sometimes the plant produces keikis, small complete plants at the base of the mother plant, which can be used for reproduction when they reach sufficient size and have formed an autonomous radical apparatus.

CuriosityThe name of the genus derives from the Greekphalaenos'Which means butterfly. It seems that the discoverer, the Dutch botanist Blume, around 1825, saw something moving from the opposite bank of a river on the island of Java, thinking they were big butterflies. He realized his mistake by crossing the river and finding that these were inflorescences that waved at the slightest breath of wind.

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