In December 2014 the Houseplant of the month is the Phalaenopsis. Each month we choose a Houseplant of the month and you can also join in with this campaign. That is really easy with our free to download POS material, which you can find under this article.
The story of the Phalaenopsis
The Phalaenopsis is the most well-known of the Orchidedaceae family. The plant is popular because of its exotic appearance and long shelf life and came to Western Europe around 1700 from Asia and Australia. Phalaenopsis are epyphytes and grow in tropical rainforests, often on trees with their roots in the air. The name Phalaenopsis means ‘night butterfly’ in Greek and refers to the shape of the flower.
The Phalaenopsis is the most important flowering plant in the whole range of houseplants. We know of at least 40 different types and hundreds of new varieties. These are reproduced in the laboratory by tissue culture. The production time for a Phalaenopsis is at least 2 years and production takes place in special nurseries, where the plants are cooled to force flowering.
What must you look out for when purchasing Phalaenopsis?
• Pot size and number of stems per plant. Look out for one, two or three stems. Also important are the number of flowers and buds per stem and the appearance. There are mini’s, upright, hanging and cascade varieties. The price is determined by the time they took to grow and how much labour was involved. So the mini Phalaenopsis is relatively expensive.
• Flowers and leaves. Watch out for dead flowers, dropped buds and dried out buds. The plant can also have yellow leaves due to having become too dry or too wet.
• Colours and patterns. Naturally the choice is mainly determined by the colour of the flower petals and the lip and the patterning on the flower petals.
• Health. The Phalaenopsis must be free of pests and diseases. The flowers sometimes have Botrytis (= spots or patches), a mould which will significantly affect the appearance of the product. Infections by scale insects are difficult to control.
• Transport and storage conditions. When the flowers or leaves are damaged or not perfect, this has often been caused by transportation or storage, or because the grower has damaged the plant mechanically (cut leaf edges). The recommended storage and transport temperature is 16-18°C. You should also look out for cold damage caused by low temperatures and the plants should be sleeved.
• Maturity. This is important especially in the winter months as immature plants will have more difficulty developing in these months with less light.
Range of Phalaenopsis
There is a really wide range of Phalaenopsis. The most common colours are white, pink, purple, soft yellow and salmon coloured. The flowers often have striped, spotted, frilly and patchy patterns or so-called cow hide patterns.
With sizes we speak in terms of large flowering, small flowering and multiflora types. There are also special varieties such as mini or really large flowering, cascade Phalaenopsis and hanging Phalaenopsis and the Phalaenopsis as a cut flower.
Care tips for consumers
The Phalaenopsis grows best at a room temperature of 18-22°C and in a light position. In the summer it would rather not have direct sunlight as this burns the leaves. In addition, put its feet in water once a week and give it plant or special orchid food, once every three weeks. After flowering cut the stem off above the second eye. After a while it will develop a new branch out of the eye. If this doesn’t work, place the Phalaenopsis for a few months in a cooler, light position (15-16°C) and don’t give it much water. When the new shoot shows, the plant can be returned to its warmer position.
Creative tips the Phalaenopsis
The Phalaenopsis is an easy care plant and looks great on its own as well as combined with other plants from the Orchidaceae, Bromeliaceae or Fern families. You can also use the plant in plant wreaths, bridal decorations, table decorations or displays.