What’s in a name?
So when you inevitably take to google to read up on your new precious baby orchid, or when checking the ID cards on pots in the store, you might see “phalaenopsis orchid” or “moth orchid” used interchangeably. According to the American Orchid Society, the Greek words phalaina, which means “moth”, and opsis, meaning “having the appearance of” combine to create the species name Phalaenopsis. Their cheery little bloom faces do tend to resemble moths or butterflies, so now you have a quick cheat to identify orchids and impress your friends!
This family has more members than the Kardashians and Brady Bunch combined!
The WCSPt currently recognizes 73 species, 7 subspecies and numerous varietal forms as well as 9 natural hybrids. This includes the commonly seen “mini phalaenopsis” which are not in fact “baby” phals that will grow larger over time, but an actual species with smaller blooms that will never increase in size. The vast number of species in the phalaenopsis family also helps account for the variation in leaf shapes, colors, patterns and textures that can be strikingly different from phal to phal!
From the tropics to your pockets!
Phalaenopsis are native to different tropical countries throughout southeast Asia, particularly in the islands of Palawan and Zamboanga in the Philippines, in the Himalayas, and Australia. Species of phalaenopsis are found at varying elevations which creates different blooming schedules/preferences from variety to variety. Colder-weather mountainous orchids tend to bloom in the cooler months while closer to sea level and equator orchids like to bloom in the summer.
Good looks never go out of style!
According to smartgardenguide.com, phalaenopsis orchids were around when dinosaurs walked the earth! The fossil record shows that phals could have been growing and thriving as long as 100 million years ago! You can’t help but have more respect for these ancient, adaptable, terrestrial survivors that we so often see casually shelved in grocery and hardware stores.
You’re in good company!
smartgardenguide.com has this to say about the popularity of phalaenopsis over the past few decades: “Phalaenopsis orchids are the most popular flowering potted plant in the world. Sales of phalaenopsis orchids have grown rapidly since the late 1990’s, when commercial cultivation techniques were perfected and expanded rapidly. Approximately 90-100 million phalaenopsis orchids are produced in Europe every year.” So, you are not alone if you’ve been bitten by the bug that is orchid madness!
I hope you enjoyed these fun little phal facts today! Stay tuned for more orchid tips, tricks, and facts to come!
I found these fun facts on a number of helpful sites including https://smartgardenguide.com/orchid-facts/ as well as the American Orchid Society website aos.org, and, as always, https://herebutnot.com/phalaenopsis-spikes-like-hot-need-cool/