As a decorator or a gift-giver, you can find an orchid to complement nearly any occasion. The novice-friendly Phalaenopsis species is a particular favorite, thanks to its easy care.
The vast range of orchid colors gives you plenty of options, but you can also easily narrow your choices to meet particular needs.
As a part of wedding décor, orchids provide an extra measure of beauty and elegance. Display them in pots or vases on the reception tables and you’ll be ensured that your guests will want to compete to take home the centerpiece. White phalaenopsis orchids are a natural fit for weddings. Pale pink and lilac orchid colors also work well for traditional weddings. If you’re going for something more edgy, choose a phalaenopsis in hot red or flirty pink.
What better way to start off a new homeowner or say “thanks” for hospitality than with the gift of nature? Orchid colors come in such variety that you can never go wrong. But you can show a more playful side by choosing vivid fuchsia or vibrant yellow. You can be equally creative with the planter, choosing a nontraditional one made of everything from a vintage jar to a wooden tool box.
Brighten up a patient’s day with hypoallergenic orchids that radiate health and happiness. A calming salmon or peaceful white orchid is a good option for your recipient. Adding to the benefit is the easy care of these durable flowers. As Just Add Ice Orchids reminds you, just three ice cubes a week is enough to keep your plant properly hydrated.
Check out our Fall Project Ideas for more ways to tap into your creative side!
The prima donna reputation orchids have for being finicky and difficult to grow can most likely be traced back to the ill-fated attempts at tropical orchid cultivation by early 19th century European gardening enthusiasts and nurserymen. When the colorful and exotic orchids of Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and South America began arriving in Europe in the early 1800s, few plants survived the arduous sea voyage from their tropical homes half a world away. After months of rough treatment and dehydration in the bellies of sailing ships, the few orchid plants that survived intact were subjected to further indignities by Victorian orchid enthusiasts and nurserymen. In misguided attempts to recreate the plants’ imagined native jungle environment, Victorian growers closeted the new tropical species in blisteringly hot, smoky, unventilated greenhouses.
Not surprisingly, few tropical orchids survived these early orchid care practices. Orchid growers of the time were not deliberately trying to kill the plants they paid exorbitant fees to possess. Europeans simply had no idea how to grow and care for exotic tropical orchids that were unlike any flower they had ever seen. The orchids known to Europeans of that era were small and drab, nothing like the large, vibrantly-colored Phalaenopsis and Cattleya orchids that were arriving from the tropics. It took European orchid fanciers years of trial and error to develop the orchid care and propagation techniques that eventually led to the successful cultivation of tropical orchids in the West.
Imagine how amazed those Victorian orchid pioneers would be to see the ease with which Phalaenopsis orchids can now be grown in ordinary homes using the Just Add Ice watering method. Just Add Ice Orchids make it possible for even first-time owners to successfully grow beautiful tropical orchids in their own homes.
Photo credit: i_a_mcdonnell
Just as some orchids are terrestrial (ground dwellers) and some are epiphytes (tree dwellers), different types of orchids exhibit different growth patterns. There are two primary ways that orchids grow: monopodial or sympodial.
Monopodial (meaning single foot) orchids, like Just Add Ice Orchids and Vanda orchids, produce a single, well-defined main stem that exhibits predominantly upward growth. The roots of monopodial orchids grow in a tangled mass under the surface of the orchid’s growing medium but will also loop above the surface. Leaves are produced at the tip of the stem as it grows upward. Leaves may grow in a mass at the bottom of the orchid stem as they do in Phalaenopsis orchids or be produced along the stem, lining the stem in a fan-like pattern as it grows upward. Flower spikes grow from the junctures between the leaves and the stem. As orchid plants bud and bloom, the weight of their blossoms causes the top end of the flower spike to bend, producing the lovely graceful arch associated with Phalaenopsis and some other monopodial orchids.
Sympodial (meaning many footed) orchids, such as Cattleya orchids and Paphiopedilum orchids, have a spreading, predominantly horizontal growth pattern. Sympodial orchids produce multiple thick, bulbous “stems” called rhizomes that grow horizontally along the surface of the ground or potting mixture. The upper surface of a rhizome is usually visible, protruding slightly above the soil surface. New shoots grow upward from the rhizomes, each rhizome producing at least one and often several shoots. Each shoot produces its own roots which typically grow along the surface and may cascade over the side of the orchid pot. Flower spikes can develop either between the leaves at the top of the orchid’s growth or from the base of the plant.
Photo by: Aidras
In the U.S., we’re used to looking down at the ground when we look for flowers. In our part of the world, even flowering shrubs and vines that shoot upward are rooted firmly in the ground. To survive in our temperate and cooler climate, plants need the protective insulation of the soil to protect their roots.
Not surprisingly, the majority of the orchid species that are native to the U.S. are terrestrial orchids, orchids that grow on the ground. There are a few exceptions, primarily in the more tropical climate of southern Florida’s swamplands where a few orchid species grow in the trees. One of the most intriguing of America’s epiphyte orchids is known as the ghost orchid. Believed to have developed from a distantly-related African orchid from seeds borne by the wind across the Atlantic Ocean, the American Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) makes its home in the Everglades where it attaches itself to the trunks and branches of pond apple and pop ash trees. In the dim light of the murky swamp, the ethereal white blooms of the Ghost Orchid appear to hover ghost-like in mid air.
Tree-growing epiphyte orchids are more common in the tropical environment of equatorial rain forests. The term Epiphyte is actually used to describe any orchid that has roots that grow above rather than into the ground. Phalaenopsis, Dendrobiums and Bulbophyllums are among the most beautiful and most prized epiphyte orchids.
Their stunning beauty, long-lasting blooms and easy care have made Phalaenopsis orchids the most popular orchid in America.
Orchid buyers should not be confused by the fact that Just Add Ice Phalaenopsis orchids are sold in pots. The orchid is planted, not in dirt, but in a special orchid potting mix that mimics the soft tree bark to which the plants adhere in the wild. Phalaenopsis’ epiphyte heritage is evident in the appearance of looping green roots that push into the air.
Photo Credit: The Wandering Angel
Is there someone nice in your life you’d like to honor? Our Just Add “Nice” Free Orchid Giveaway gives you the perfect opportunity to tell us about someone special in your life and maybe win a beautiful Just Add ice phalaenopsis orchid to give that special person. Every week through Valentine’s Day, we’re giving away two free orchids – one to thank you for being a Just Add Ice Orchid fan and one for you to give to an extra nice person in your life.
It’s easy to enter. Just watch our blog for the weekly Just Add Nice question and post your comment. Everyone who comments is automatically entered in our weekly random drawings. This is your chance to tell us about the people who are important to you or who bring extra joy to your life. It’s a way to thank a special family member or friend for helping you through a tough time or for just being there to share life’s ups and downs.
You can also enter our free orchid giveaway by registering on the Just Add Ice website. Registration automatically enters you in our weekly random drawing - the winner is drawn every Friday. Keep an eye on the Just Add Ice Orchids blog and Facebook page to see if you’re chosen as the lucky weekly winner. If you are, you’ll receive 2 beautiful phalaenopsis Just Add Ice Orchids -- one to keep and one to share with a friend.
For Valentine’s Day we have something extra special planned. If you enter our weekly drawings, you’ll also be entered in the Just Add Nice Grand Prize drawing. On February 14, 2011, we will randomly select one lucky entrant to win a year’s supply of gorgeous Just Add Ice orchids – one orchid for every season – for themselves and a special friend! What are you waiting for? Register now and you could be enjoying Just Add Ice Orchids year-round.
We’ve trimmed down the American Orchid Society’s reference info down to this handy cheat sheet for you.
The first word is the name of the genus (plural: genera). It is usually printed in italics with a capital letter. Botanists abbreviate generic names with the first letter while horticulturists often use short abbreviations, such as Phal. for Phalaenopsis.
Within each genus there may be dozens, if not hundreds, of variations. Taxonomists give them individual names called specific epithets (these usually begin with a lower-case letter and are also in italics). They may indicate place of origin, the person who found the orchid, a characteristic of the orchid or honor an individual.
Some orchid species may exhibit certain characteristics with additional variation which taxonomists recognize by assigning a subspecies, varietal or form name. These begin with a lower-case letter, are in italics and are the third name in sequence.
The Names of Hybrids
When a hybrid is made, the breeder, or his or her representative, assigns a grex or group name that applies to all of the hybrid progeny.
Some plants with exceptionally fine flowers have been observed and assigned cultivar names to distinguish them. Cultivar names may be applied to hybrids as well as orchid species. They begin with a capital letter, are in Roman type and set within single quotation marks. All derivatives of a cultivar will be genetically identical and possess the same cultivar name, so hobbyists know exactly what to expect from a plant they purchase bearing this name.
Extra letters may follow the plants' names, which indicates an award. These may be given to both species and hybrids. The letters before the slash are an abbreviation for the award; AM is an Award of Merit, HCC a Highly Commended Certificate. The letters following the slash indicate the association that bestowed the award, such as the American Orchid Society (AOS).
If you’ve ever read about a particular orchid species and wanted to see a photo, you could always type it into a search engine like Yahoo or Google or Bing and then click on the word “images”. But that won’t always tell you much else about the orchid. Instead, you could try going to Jay’s Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia. It’s a mouthful, but it’s pretty easy to type Orchid Species.com into your web browser.
Not only will you find lovely orchid photos, but information like if it has a fragrance, the plant’s light and temperature preferences, and blooming seasons – all depicted with icons. Taxonomic Organization of Species, includes all varieties and formas, subspecies etc. listed under the parent species. Not all species are listed because it’s a photo encyclopedia, not an orchid list of all plant names, so if there’s no photo, there’s no listing.
As of July 2010, the encyclopedia includes 11,714 species in 782 genera. The page for Ph – Pi, which would be where we’d find our favorites – Phalanenopsis orchids – starts with Phaedrosanthus Neck. 1903 and ends with Pittierella Schltr. 1906.
The Phals listed include all of the about 60 species from Phalaenopsis amabilis to Phalaenopsis zebrine. Phal. amabilis has a number of subspecies listed, as do Phal. schilleriana -- which is featured in the photo at the top of the Ph – Pi page.
Let’s take a look at the listing for the Phalaenopsis amabilis. Among many other tidbits, we learn that this orchid’s common name is “The Lovely Phalaenopsis” and that it’s the national Flower of Indonesia. It includes a detailed description, a list of synonyms and references, and links to additional photos.
But, if you’d rather see what all the Phalaenopsis orchid species look like at once, check out this site.
There are six main techniques used to propagate orchids: division, back bulbs, keiki, aerial cuttings, meristem or tissue culture, and seed. All of these techniques are commonly employed in the home or greenhouse, except propagation by seed and meristem tissue culture, which need laboratory conditions. The most commonly used method is by division, but since we’re most interested in Phalaenopsis orchids, we’d like to discuss the Keiki method.
Keiki the Hawaiian word for “babies”. In orchids, especially Phalaenopsis and Dendrobiums, the word describes a small plant that grows on a node along the flower spike. Under normal circumstances, a new branch would develop. When a Phal has finished flowering you would use these ‘nodes’ as a guide to cut the orchid flower spike back in order to induce a fresh flower spike to develop. A keiki is what happens when a small plant grows from one of the nodes along the stem instead of a branch.
This happens because of an accumulation of growth hormones at that specific point. It occurs naturally, or it can be induced by the application of keiki paste, the concentrated form of the correct growth hormones.
Plants grown using this method will be duplicates (actually the same plant) and you can leave them in place until they have a good root system and maybe two or three leaves. After six months the plant should be large enough to remove from the parent and potted in to its own pot.
Phalaenopsis grown this way should reach flowering size 18 months to 2 years after they first appeared. A step-by-step guide with photos is available, along with a reminder to label the plant so that you know which variety it is and the date you removed it from the parent.
From a very in-depth study found on the Orchids South Africa webpage, we’ve gathered a wealth of orchid trivia for you.
It has been estimated that as many as 75% of all orchids are fragrant, or give off scent, which in some instances are extremely repulsive smells. Flowers release scents that give them the best chance of attracting the right pollinators, so even the times that the fragrances are produced is during the time when the pollinator of that species would be active. This is because fragrance production consumes energy. Therefore the timing of scent production often coincides with the time of visitation of pollinators to use the least energy to achieve the maximum effect.
Here are some examples of this:
Other fragrant orchids include:
- Clowesia rosea smells of Vicks Vapo rub in the morning and cinnamon in the afternoon.
- Catasetum expansum smells of turpentine in the morning and rye bread in the afternoon.
- Epidendrum falcatum, has a delicate, haunting scent of jasmine in the morning that turns to a stronger note resembling that of Easter lilies or narcissi during the afternoon.
- Encyclia fragrans smells of honey and vanilla in the mornings.
- Maxillaria tenuifolia smells overpoweringly like coconut and tropical suntan lotion.
- Stanhopeas have an interesting chocolate-peppermint fragrance that lasts one to three days.
- Lycaste locusta has the coloring and scent of a granny-smith apple.
- Thunia marshalliana has an orange fragrance.
- Masdevallia glandulosa smells deliciously of sweet cloves.
- Zygopetalum intermedium has a rosy/lilac fragrance.
- Calauthron bicornutum produce an unusual scent resembling a mixture of fruit and candies.
- Cycnoches chlorochilon produces a penetrating jasmine fragrance.
- Dendrobium anosmum perfumes the air with a scent of raspberries.
A few fragrant Phalaenopsis are Phal. Violacea and Phalaenopsis bellina. Both species have a sweet rosy-floral fragrance, but Phal. violacea has an additional blend of cinnamon.
The $2.1 million orchid conservatory at Old Dominion University was the lifelong goal of the late Arthur Kaplan, a physician and avid orchid collector who also raised money for the facility in Norfolk, Virginia.
Caring for the 750 orchids that Kaplan personally donated is the dream-come-true for Steve Urick, a horticulturist who grew orchids at his home in Hampton, Va., for 26 years.
The Deseret News tells us that Steve started at the Arthur and Phyllis Kaplan Orchid Conservatory in 2007, almost a year before it opened in April 2008. The complex consists of six individual, climate-controlled greenhouses. Since opening, the conservatory has purchased and received additional orchid donations, giving it 400 species among more than 1,500 plants. The goal is eventually to spotlight 2,500 orchid species among 5,000 plants.
The conservatory is open to free public tours 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The main display greenhouse is the "heart of the jungle," a native habitat replica with splashes of color from corsage-like Cymbidium, garden-style Reed-stem epidendrum and showy lady slipper orchids. Some orchids grow on bark in tree trunks, some in pots sunk in native garden soil, some in the depressions of a man-made rock wall. Vegetation like bromeliads, ferns, palms and cinnamon, chocolate and coffee plants add more tropical touches.
Steve is always switching potted orchids in and out of the five growing greenhouses, ensuring the display area is full of color with at least 100 blooming orchids flowers on any given day.
During your visit to the conservatory, you'll also see more common species like the Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, and Paphiopedilum, or lady slipper orchid, that are so easy to grow indoors at home.
See the greenhouse online at sci.odu.edu/biology/botany/greenhouse/.