I was given a mini phaleanopsis orchid by a friend from work and am interested in exploring techniques to clone this beautiful plant and one day hybridize. This mini orchid will one day be a centrepiece overlooking a vibrant aquascape.
I am not sure what species this orchid is, however what i do know is that it is a Phaleanopsis. My guess would be that is is a Phaleanopsis equestris or some other hybrid form. Phaleanopsis equestris is a dwarf species that is commonly used as a parent plant in order to pass on the dwarfism genes. A few possible hybrids that this plant could be include: Doritaenopsis Purple Gem, Phaleanopsis Carmelas Pixie, P. Cassandra, P. Be Tris, P. Mini Mark Holm, P. Sogo Twinkle.
Phaleanopsis (AKA Moth Orchids), thrive in moderately humid conditions (50%), medium to low light, and average daytime temperatures of 21C to 26C (70F to 80F), night time temperatures should stay around 18C (65F).
This species is particularly susceptible to crown rot, which is a result of water pooling in the small pocket that is formed at the new growth of the plant. This water causes the plant to rot over time and can be fatal.
Moth orchids are one of the easiest, most beautiful, and longest flowering orchids available and as a result are by far the most popular. The vast majority of times if you see an orchid in a store, it is a Phaleanopsis (not necessarily a dwarf however as these are much less common). Many of them have fragrance, while others do not. They come in a huge variety of colours and patterns, though interestingly, there is no such thing as a blue Phaleanopsis as of yet. Breeders are working diligently to breed blue colours into the Phaleanopsis palet.
Other notable species similar to the Phaleanopsis:
- Angraecoids - Come from africa and include a variety of phenotypes, including miniatures. This species also includes fragrant varieties, and is extensively hybridized. They favour similar conditions as Phaleanopsis but benefit from more light.
- Vandas - Originate from Hawaii. These plants require a high amount of light, and as a result can be more difficult to cultivate. Here in Canada it would be difficult to provide it with a constant supply of high intensity light without supplementing light through HID lamps or some other source. Vandas flowers are found in a wide range of colours including blue and can be massive (15cm) in diameter (6").
- Ascocendas - This is the result of breeding larger Vandas with a much smaller group of plants called ascocentrums.
April 21. Today in an attempt to increase humidity for the Tillandsia and mini Phalaenopsis i mounted my orchid on the wire in order to add a heat matt on the ground, with a bucket (actually an unused cloner) full of RO water left open to release humidity and raise the temp. I situated a thermometer/hygropeter at around the level where the plants were in order to accurately measure what the environment is for the plants. This is still a new setup so i am not familiar with how the environment will behave. I have a small fan situated at the top venting out the hot air. I may need to add an air pump and stone into the water to prevent it from going rancid, or else add H2O2. If the water evaporates quickly enough i will most likely not need to do this however.
April 28. Today i noticed some budding on both the old spike and the new spike. There are 3-4 buds on each. This can either be an indication that it is stressed out from changing locations or that it is simply time to flower again. I fertilized with a 25% solution of hydroponic fertilizer in liquid form. I used a pump sprayer and sprayed all over the roots, avoiding the leaves.
May 12 - The first bud has opened revealing a small and delicate flower with a beautiful mixture of colours. I moved the plant back onto level ground because i found the plant was moving around too much while hanging and as a result i knocked off one of the buds. Also noted that a new leaf has started to emerge and is growing at a rapid rate ( ~50mm/day).
July 2014 - Found signs of a virus on this orchid. Wish I had proper testing equipment to determine for sure that this was indeed a virus and not just a fungus (which is curable). I isolated this orchid once noticing symptoms and watched closely as the problem got worse and worse. I ended up disposing of this orchid before it had a change to spread to my other plants.
Plant viruses are not curable. they WILL result in the death of the plant and they WILL spread if not contained. This is good reason to use excessive measure to avoid possible spread of infection so that it does not wipe out your entire collection. Any trimming should be disposed of right away and not left laying around. Tools should be disinfected between use. Flood tables are also not recommended for use in orchids as this will allow ease of infection for the virus. Water should be a drain to waste type setup if not hand watered.
It is possible through tissue culture propagation of the meristems of orchids to eliminate the virus from the clones. My understanding is that the meristems grow faster than the virus and thus if removed and cloned the tissue will be virus free. Tests are also available though can be expensive to test the plant for the presence of virus.
Plants purchased from unspecialized garden centres are a common source of viruses. They often use flood tales to water the plants and lack the proper knowledge from staff to prevent the spread of viruses as well as fungus. Many specialty retailers are well trained and understand the importance of minimizing chance of infection as it could wipe out their entire stock fairly easily. these retailers are recommended when shopping for orchids.