Thursday, October 20, 2011

Phal. equestris: Litte Flower, Big Joy

Phal. equestis ('Blue Wan Chiao' x self)
Last year I met an orchid judge who told me that his all-time favorite species was Phal. equestris. I think they're cute, but I honestly didn't understand his excitement about a small-growing Phal

Now, I kind of get it. This genus has potential! Who knew? Two months ago, Peter Lin gave a presentation to the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City about novelty-type Phals and it made me rethink the future of Phalaenopsis in my collection. In addition to showing a series of eye candy Phal photos, Peter delivered remarkably sane advice about potting Phals. Instead of suggesting either sphagnum moss or bark, he advocated a layered approach: moss on the top, bark in the middle, and foam packing peanuts on the bottom. It's worked really well with my equestris (see below).

Sabine loves the subtle color of this equestris variety
What are "novelty type Phals?" According to Lin, the phrase "novelty type" generally describes a plant that's non-standard and typically refers to a Phal that's smaller, colorful, fragrant, summer-flowering, and having heavy flower substance. Many novelty hybrids have Phal. amboinensis and/or violacea in their parentage. Check out the amazing color patterns on the novelty hybrids sold by Big Leaf Orchids.

I'd also like to cultivate the small-growing species Phals. I'm thrilled with my Phal. equestris ('Blue Wan Chiao' x self). It's bloomed with ease and it radiates a ton of cheerfulness in a small 2" pot. Although equestris isn't my all-time favorite, I can envision a future where it's in my top ten.

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