How can one tell the difference between a Doritaenopsis and a Phalaenopsis? Norman B.
A Doritanaenopsis, abbreviated Dtps, is nothing more than a Phalaenopsis bred with a Doritis. There is only one species, pulcherrima, in the entire Doritis genus and it is a fairly unimpressive sight – tiny purple flowers bunched at the top of a very long flower stem and tough strappy foliage that looks more like some desert plant than an orchid.
One reason that Doritis was used in hybridizing despite its lack of stunning attributes is because its genetic makeup allowed it to breed with Phalaenopsis when most orchids could not. This rare capability existed because both plants had the same growth habit (are monopodial). Once that barrier was crossed, more noble reasons for hybridizing included attempts to intensify the color and miniaturize the size of the offspring’s flowers.
Chances are that if the color of the blossom in question is dark purple or the size is small, then somewhere in the lineage was Doritis pulcherrima. And while the experts debate this question, most people will just call it a ‘moth orchid’…….

I’ve heard that a piece of wood should be inserted into the orchid dirt for the roots to ‘climb on’. Is this true? SMO - Save My Orchid! Rebecca M.
One must beware of ‘orchid rumors’ which may contain gross inaccuracies. The words ‘orchid’ and ‘dirt’ are rarely used together (‘orchid dirt’) because most orchids do not like dirt and perish quickly when potted in this medium. Epiphytes naturally grow on trees of varying types and sizes and, therefore, require airy materials such as bark chips or mosses when raised in captivity.
Inserting pieces of wood into the media for ‘roots to climb on’ is certainly preferable to having only dirt but is too cumbersome to be practical. The plant would be much better off if the entire potting media were made up of pieces of wood.
In order to Save This Orchid, a quick repotting into an orchid friendly potting media is required. Doctors orders!

Can orchids be forced to bloom in any season? Susan M.
Growers have some ability to manipulate the blooming times of orchids just by adjusting the temperature. A five to ten degree increase in the room thermostat would likely make a Christmas blooming Oncidium open it’s first flower around Thanksgiving or a late-November flowering Dendrobium show color by Halloween. Likewise, a drop in temperature slows everything down a month or so.
It is much harder to make orchids bloom completely out of season. In order to have winter loving Phalaenopsis for a summer wedding requires some high level technology. State-of-the-art commercial greenhouses employ enormous air conditioners and light control curtains to fake the plants into blooming six months ahead of schedule.
The only way to see a Cattleya mossiae (spring bloomer) in the fall is to travel to Venezuela where they grow wild. The seasons in the southern hemisphere are opposite ours.
Orchids that require new foliar growths before they can bloom such as Cattleyas, Oncidiums, Paphiopedilums have to complete their work before any blooming can begin. This process takes many months and cannot be rushed.
Dendrobiums, which are notoriously random in their blooming times, can bloom repeatedly on successive flower stems if they are very happy. The challenge for all growers is to make their orchids very happy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008 - 18:00