Phalaenopsis X intermedia in our backyard

My mother, aunts, grandmother maternal side are very fond of  growing orchids. However they are all partial to man-made hybrids.  Genus  like Semi-Terete Vandas, Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, Spathoglottis were their favorites  .  For some native orchid species  like Dendrobium anosmum ( sanggumay)  , Phalaenopsis x intermedia among others. They also like them since they have large blooms and powerful scent.

Phalaenopsis X intermedia

Growing butterfly orchids  is uncommon in our place. We lived in a subdivision with a lot of garden spaces . Most orchid growers prefer long lasting and big flowering orchids ! We have acquired our first butterfly orchids when i was still  in grade school. There are some ambulant orchid vendors  every Wednesday or weekends which are selling native orchids and hybrids near the church of Our Lady of Mercy in the heart of Novaliches town proper. Some of them sourced their orchids from Baclaran, Manila Seedling Bank, Bulacan province .

butterfly orchids

Most people call Phalaenopsis X INTERMEDIA  orchid as butterfly or moth orchids ( a natural hybrid with a lot of color variations )  .  Their flowers are quite small  2.5 inches or about 7 cm  . BUT they are pretty especially if grown into a specimen sized – flowering plants.  Some specimen- sized butterfly orchids can bloom for several months with dozens or even hundreds of flowers per spike.  I have bought a much bigger Phalaenopsis aphrodite at a weekend market several years ago. The orchid is blooming a lot and had several keikis .

a neighbor with lots of dancing lady orchids grown at their backyard and mounted on their palm

Until a very unfortunate event last year when our neighbor began their construction of a 3 or 4 story warehouse/ residential area which increased their perimeter walls several stories high . When the construction workers began pouring cement mixture,  Most of our orchids , ferns , hoyas which are now specimen- sized were the first casualties !!!! OMG. When i reach home  at nigh-time, We could not save all of those orchids and plants.

We only managed to salvage some of the orchids and hoyas. Eventually most of the orchids , ferns and hoyas died due to the cement mixture .

We still manage to save some of the Dendrobium anosmum ( sanggumay) Dendrobium cucullatum ( fairy sanggumay ) but i must say that we lost more than 100 specimen -sized clumps due to the pouring of cement mixture. Tsk Tsk Tsk ….  Some of those orchids were bought from different weekend  or flea markets in the city and some provinces that we visited..   As a good neighbor –  We keep on reminding the foreman and even the owners of what happened.  It seems it fell on a deaf ears !

I just transferred the remaining butterfly orchids on a palm tree and tried to cover the roots with fern roots ( pasdak ) in order to retain the moisture and sprayed some fungicide before the onset of the rainy season.  The shady palm fronts help deflect the excess rain water and wind.  after several weeks and months – The butterfly orchid roots slowly enveloped  the palm trunk and the straw rope use for mounting the orchids had rotted away.

I began the twice a week,  application of 20-20-20 soluble fertilizer a month ( normally i only apply 1/4 of the package  recommendation) .   We also water our orchids with  fresh rice washings  ( hugas- bigas) often delegated to my mom or sister.

After several more months, We were rewarded with the beautiful spikes and dainty white with splashes of yellow at the mid-lobe flowers !!!

locally called butterfly or moth orchid- The flowers resembles butterflies or moths in flight

This orchid species although quite common in the provinces is slowly getting very hard to come across in our locality . Most housewives and orchid growers prefer the hybrids rather than growing the species.  Majority of them would have a  smear remark ” Native Lang Iyan at Maliit and mga Bulaklak” They are Native and Their Flowers are Small  .  But i guess they never knew if i tell them that most modern orchid hybrids can trace their lineage to our small and native orchid species. !!!!!

Much of our orchid collections are gone , but what still remain are a treasure to behold.

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4 thoughts on “Phalaenopsis X intermedia in our backyard”

  1. I like your article and reading write ups about endemic orchid species especially Phalaenopsis growing locally really turns me on! The section or subgenus “Phalaenopsis” under the genus of the same name (the other section are Polychilos) are my favorite plants because most of them are endemic and all of them hail from our country. I may say Phalaenopsis is one of the greatest natural contribution of the Philippines in field of horticulture. Yeah, we lag behind the hybridization/propagation, distribution and conservation technique but we had the raw materials found nowhere else in the world. The hybrids of Phalaenopsis are the second most popular plant in the United States alone after the poinsettia, and like what you said in the above article, Phalaenopsis amabilis, aphrodite, and our endemic Phalaenopsis philippinensis, sanderiana, schilleriana, and stuartiana had the greatest influence on hybridizing the popular modern hybrids of today. Not to mention that our endemic Phalaenopsis specie under Polychilos section which includes bastianii, fasciata, hieroglyphica, lueddemanniana, micholitzii, pallens, pulchra, and reichenbachiana had already crazed the orchid hobbyists worldwide even at the time of Spanish occupation period. There are lots of indigenous and endemic species I hadn’t mentioned but one thing is sure, the Philippines is the center of biodiversity for this genus of orchids with the most number of species than any other countries in the world.

    oh my.. I’m sorry for your orchids affected by construction works. I just remembered how sad am I every time my native Phalaenopsis are infested or physically damaged. My family and friends get fun of me every time they saw how I am very affected with the plants. It is uncommon for my age and gender to be fond of plants but I love my endemic Phalaenopsis because they are part of our rich floral heritage, the natural forest jewels worth to treasure. Well, if only all people are appreciative of the plants, they will be careful of the plants and of our feelings as well. Sad to say not all of my families and friends are aware of this, ehehehe. Anyway, most of the plant lovers in our province prefer the man-made hybrids than the natural species/hybrids. I once pre-loved the hybrids because aside from their showy sizes and intense colored blooms, they are readily available and are cheap. But when I was educated that our native species are more valuable, I am now more satisfied to grow them and appreciate their real beauty.

    1. Thanks, Wait for my next article about this magnificent orchid . My main concern is that in the past few years fewer and fewer household in our place are cultivating this ( natural hybrid) and opt to grow the hybrids.

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