Orchids in Philippine Landscape

In the city’s high-rise condominiums, posh residential villages or in the remote

barangays all over the country, orchids can add  lovely colors , amazing beauty that

dazzle one’s creative  imagination  and various artistic landscaping styles in every

garden. The tropical climate in the Philippines in which many of the native orchids

species as well as thousands of  hybrids that are accustomed with, provide an opportunity

for professional landscapers or just simple hobbyists with a few orchids and ornamental

plants  to use orchids as a landscape  subjects or as a focal point in the garden. Some

gardeners or hobbyists  tend to cultivate orchids for good luck charm or prosperity .

People grow epiphytic orchids in fruit trees or trees in their own garden. In

selecting a suitable host tree, a good host tree should have rough bark, not too dense

canopy. The orchid roots will attach to the host, so the trees with smooth bark, or barks

that can easily peels off  the trees regularly will not be a good host . Trees with heavy

canopy that tends to block the sunlight is not that suitable in growing orchids, If the lawn

grass will not grow under the peculiar tree, the lighting conditions in the area might not

be right to grow orchids. There are a lot of ideal host trees, which makes an ideal host for

epiphytes like orchids, hoyas, dischidias , ferns among others. One of the ideal host trees

which is  fondly called Kakawate tree (  Gliricidia sepium )  This shade tree was

introduced  in the late 16th century  from Mexico , where it is grown as a favorite shade

tree in cocoa plantations hence  the name “ Madre de cacao” in local vernacular in

Tagalog .

Dendrobium hybrid

This tree is planted as a border plant in various places throughout the country, this

plant is also used in livestock feeding . Mature trees are usually cut off and then made

into driftwood with either steel  or cement  support at its base.  Another is the coconut

tree (Cocos nucifera) which is  extensively grown all over the country as crop or

landscaped focal point of the garden  . Bunga China ( Veitchia merrillii  ) the solitary and

slender palm may grow up to 6 meter tall and found  commonly cultivated throughout the

country , Choose the palms with clear trunk below the foliage and rough texture on the

trunk it is where you can tie or secure an orchid to grow. Other common fruit trees,

which are also ideal host  trees are Jackfruit ( Artocarpus heterophyllus ), Santol

( Sandoricum koetjape ) However make sure that before the onset of the rainy season try

to prune the trees so that it is not too shady for orchids . Mango (Mangifera indica) this

tree is ideal to grow Aerides quinquevulnera , Dendrobium anosmum , However do not

attempt in putting any Phalaenopsis orchids in the tree since this tree harbor some insects

like June beetle  grubs (salagubang beetles ) which may attack the leaves of the

Palaenopsis . Caimito tree (Chrysophyllum cainito), other common trees that are also

suitable for planting orchids . Our very own narra or angsana tree

( Prerocarpus indicus ).  In large estate  or garden clubs, Huge acacia or

rain tree ( Samanea saman )  serves as an ideal host tree.  There are several reasons

“ why” this tree is an ideal host for epiphytes. The wide spreading branches provide

convenient places for the orchids and ferns to thrive , while its scaly bark helps to trap

dust  and nutrients , the bark of this tree can also retain moisture . The folding of its

leaves during the evening , or  before a thunderstorms allows for dew and rains to

reach the inner areas of the crown where these epiphytes can be found.

This tree was introduced from South America in the 1840’s and is planted in many parts

of the country including the official residence of the first family in Malacañang Palace .

Epiphytes can be seen in the several centuries –old rain trees that are found within

the  presidential compound . These plants adds mystery and charm to the landscape

gardens of the palace. These are just a few examples.  You can examine at the trees and

palms which are growing in your garden .  Once you have selected your ideal host tree,

check the actual position of the tree and the amount of light falling on the trunk or

branches on several times of the day  . On the exposed palm trunk or tree branch

receiving full sun much of the day , the best orchids to establish are Vanda teres, semi-

teres  Vandas.

Another favorite flowering shrub which was also introduced from Central America which

is also an ideal host tree is Kalachuchi or Frangipani , This tree is not only known for its

flowers but also an ideal host for orchids like Cattleyas .

If you are planning to plant several orchids in the garden, always remember that

orchid species and hybrids had  different  blooming seasons and patterns.

You can also add other epiphytic plants like ferns, hoyas, dischidias to

accompany the orchids . This can make your garden a more tropical appeal. If you  had

already chosen a tree , choose a location that is above adult eye level or in a spot where

you can easily spot  and enjoy the flowers .  Attached the orchid to the trunk with plastic

coated wire or plastic garden straw  , making it sure that the orchid is properly secure and

does not wobble in order to hold the plant temporarily while its roots are taking hold of

the host tree . Once the orchid is established  (This can take from six months to more

than one  year) then that is the time you can remove the wires. Be sure not to choke the

tree trunk or branches as the tree will need some space to grow.

You can try to mist the orchids regularly, and you can fertilize the orchids once you can

see the roots grasp the host  tree  . Once fully established you can add slow release

fertilizers , and the orchid might need regular watering during the dry season .  It is also

wise to grow these orchids into a large  specimen type, since it can be dramatic when

these plants comes into blooms .

Terrestrial orchids can also be successfully cultivated in many gardens all over the

country .  Arundina bambusaefolia which is a plant with a cylindrical stem three to five

feet in height , which resemble a small bamboos and has a number of narrow grass like

leaves , short and few flowered . Plants of this species should be grown in a compost of

rich humus loam with adequate drainage . Its Cattleya- like flowers blooms almost the

entire year however the flower lasts only for two or three days. Other popular terrestrial

orchids are Spathoglottis plicata which is grown either in pots or in beds all over the

country .  Growing these wonderful orchids can add beauty and grace to one’s garden be

it a small windowsill , an apartment or an extensive haciendas in the province .