The Botanical Orchids
Aërangis comprises about 60 monopodial orchid species, which vary from small to medium size and are related to Angraecum range, which is native to a vast region extending from Africa to Madagascar and various islands in the Indian Ocean.
These orchids have short stems and they produce two ranks of leaves having leathery texture. The inflorescences may be erect, drooping or arching and each bears numerous white or creamy flowers having long spurs.
Many of these flowers emit fragrance at night. Ideally, you should grow these orchids in small pots with bark-based growing medium. Alternatively, you may grow them on rafts and even logs. These plants have a preference for warm temperatures and low to medium intensity of light.
Plants of this species of orchid grow up to a height of 8 inches and produce anything between four and ten leaves arranged opposite to each other on the stem. The individual leaves are dark green, measure 6 inches in length and have black dots. The leaves of Aërangis biloba have a leathery texture.
The flowering stem is like a pendant and grows up to a length of 4 inches to 16 inches in length. Each spike bears up to 20 white flowers with elongated spurs. Occasionally, the flowers have a sling tinge of pink. Spring is the blooming season for them.
Aërangis biloba is a miniature orchid growing up to a height of less than 4 inches and its leaves measure about 3 ½ inches in length. The flowering spikes of this orchid species may be drooping and they grow up to a length of ten inches. The spikes are packed with petite white flowers emitting a lemony fragrance. Plants in this orchid species are in bloom in spring.
Aërangis luteoalba rhodosticta
The plants of Aërangis luteoalba rhodosticta have short stems and each of them bear two to three dark green leaves, each measuring about 6 inches in length. The inflorescences may be drooping or arching and grow up to a length of just 1 inch. Each inflorescence bears as many as 24 white or cream hued flowers having a red column. The flowers do not have any scent and they appear twice in a year – in spring and again in fall.
Similar to Aërangis, Angraecum orchids are also indigenous to Africa and the various islands in the Indian Ocean. However, the plants in this genus also differ from those in Aërangis as these are large orchids. The flowers of these orchids are star shaped and have spreading segments as well as a long spur joined with the lip.
The flowers of this species of orchids have variable colors, including white, cream and greenish. You should ideally grow the Angraecum orchids in pots or baskets packed with a coarse mixed growing medium. At the same time, the plants need to be watered as well as fed freely all through the year.
They require warm temperatures and medium to high intensity of light to flourish. These plants grow several aerial roots and, hence, you need to mist them often. However, this should be done quite early in the day so that no water remains at the base of the leaves at night.
Different from most other plants in the genus Angraecum, this orchid species is small with branching and drooping stems. The leaves of Angraecum distichum are short and set close to the stem overlapping each other producing a braided effect.
The stems of this orchid can grow up to a length of 10 inches. The flowers are small and have a white color. The individual flowers measure less than an inch across and appear close to the branch ends. The flowers emit fragrance at night. The plants may be in bloom in any season.
Angraecum eburneum produces large stems that are erect and produce large bunches of deep green leaves. The leaves measure anything between 12 inches and 16 inches in length and have a leathery texture. The inflorescences are arching are longer compared to the leaves.
Each inflorescence carries up to 15 green flowers with an outsized white lip that is uppermost. The individual flowers measure 2 ½ inches in diameter. While the flowers are scented, the positioning of the lip makes the flowers look upside down. The plants are in bloom in winter.
Translated from its Latin name, the species name of this orchid “sesquipedale” means “foot and a half” and this refers to the elongated spurs on the white flowers. While the spurs are actually only 10 inches to 12 inches in length, the individual flowers measure about 8 inches and has a spicy fragrance.
The flowers of Angraecum sesquipedale are borne in clusters of one to four and they appear on an inflorescence that is rather shorter compared to the plant’s leaves, which measure anything between 10 inches and 16 inches in length. The plant itself can grow up to a height of 4 feet. This orchid species is in bloom during the winter months.
Angraecum x Veitchii
The Angraecum hybrid is a cross between A. eburneum and A. sesquipedale. In fact, the plants of Angraecum x Veitchii bear more resemblance to A. sesquipedale, especially in size. Each plant bears anything between six and 10 flowers. The individual flowers measure about 3 inches across and when they unfurl their color is either ivory or greenish. Later, the color of the flower changes to pure white. The plants are in bloom during the winter months.
The genus Anguloa is also known as “tulip orchid”. These plants may be epiphytic, but usually they are cultivated as terrestrials, in a growing mix that is also ideal for growing Cymbidium orchids. The pseudo bulbs of tulip orchids have three large, slender and ribbed leaves, each measuring 2 ½ feet by 1 foot at their apex.
The flowers of this orchid emerge from the bottom of the pseudo bulbs singly on short and plump stems. Compared to the petals, the sepals are larger and they cup around the flower giving them the appearance of a tulip shape. These plants are cool growers and they need to be watered and fed heavily during their growing period in summer.
At the same time, provide them with low to medium intensity of light and protect them from sunburn by growing them under some shelter. Subsequently, keep the plants dry and keep providing them maximum light till the time new growth appears.
The plants are in bloom in summer. These orchids are crossed with Lycaste to create hybrids known as x Angulocaste. The flowers of this hybrid are less capped, but more open and have a triangular shape compared to the flowers of other species in this genus.
The flowers of Anguloa clowesii orchid have a vivid yellow hue and the individual blooms measure anything between 3 inches and 3 ½ inches across. The fragrance of the flowers reminds one of chocolate and mint.
The flowers of Anguloa ruckeri are not as cupped as the blooms of A. clowesii and have an olive or bronze hue on the outer side of the petals. On the inner side, they are heavily spotted with red. The flowers of some plants may also have an ivory white or red color.
This genus of orchid is also known as leopard orchid. They are warm growers and thrive well when provided with strong light. The plants of Ansellia Africana are tall and grow up to a height of 3 feet, while the pseudo bulbs are like canes and they produce up to 10 leaves, each measuring anything between 6 inches and 20 inches in length.
The inflorescences are branching and carry several flowers. The individual flowers measure up to 2 inches across and have slender yellow segments with heavy dark brown spots. The plants are in bloom during the winter months. Occasionally, the plants of this orchid genus are marketed as A. gigantea or A. nilotica. Compared to the other orchids in this species, A. nilotica bears wider, more vividly hued flowers.
The Botanical Orchids
Orchids in genus Sobralia are large and ostentatious terrestrial plants which bear resemblance to reeds or gingers (Hedychium) to some extent vis-à-vis their growth habit and forming clusters of leafy stems. The form of the flowers is similar to those of cattleyas and is borne at the apex of the stems.
The flowers of these orchids are showy and last for a brief period, although new blooms appear throughout the long flowering season. You may grow these orchids in pots filled with a growing mix that you would use for cymbidiums and water the plants liberally till the stems grow to their full size.
Subsequently, reduce the watering for about a month. These plants have a preference of temperatures ranging between intermediate and warm and are capable of enduring sun, barring the period when they are in bloom in spring, summer and the beginning of fall. These orchids are definitely impressive plants for growing in tubs.
This orchid grows up to a height of 3 feet and bears white flowers having yellow to orange marking at their center. The individual flowers measure about 4 inches to 5 inches across. A few plants of this species also bear pure yellow flowers.
Plants in this orchid species are stately and they can grow up to a height of 7 feet, but usually they are 3 feet tall. The flowers of Sobralia macrantha are purplish red and each measure about 4 inches to 9 inches across. The plants are in bloom in spring and summer. There are some variants of this species which bear pure white or deep red flowers.
Orchids belonging to the genus Stanhopea are considered to be among the more unusually splendid plants. The flowers of these orchids are large, fleshy, heavy and strongly fragrant. Although the plants bear abundant flowers, the individual flowers last for a brief period.
These plants require temperatures ranging from cool to warm as well as partial shade. You need to water and feed the plants generously till the pseudo bulbs become mature. Subsequently, reduce watering and enhance the supply of light. The form of the flowers has been compared to several things, including a sheep’s skull, giant moths and a flying bird whose wings are raised.
In fact, the flowers of Stanhopea orchids have also been compared to an eagle getting off with a squid! The lip of the flowers is complicated and comprises a body that produces scent to attract bees, buckets and chutes. The bees fall into the scent-producing body and it has an escape hatch that makes it sure that while returning the bee will pick up some pollens.
You should grow Stanhopea orchids in a wire basket or a slatted wood line with sphagnum and packed with coarse bark mix. You may add cow manure and leaf molds to the growing mix. The pseudo bulbs of this orchid produce one large, wide and pleated leaf – seldom two leaves can be seen from one pseudo bulb. Interestingly, the inflorescence is descending, tunnelling through the growing mix and subsequently emerging from the base of the basket.
This orchid species bears flowers that measure about 4 inches to 6 inches across. Each inflorescence carries three to six flowers, whose color varies from white to yellow and have reddish purple spots. The lip has two dark eyes. The plants are in bloom in summer.
Plants in this orchid species bear two to four yellow flowers on each inflorescence. The individual flowers measure about 8 inches across and are barred as well as spotted with purplish brown.
Each orchid in Stanhopea wardii species bears about 10 to 12 flowers whose color varies from greenish white to deep yellow. The flowers have fine sprinkles of red dots. The individual blooms measure about 6 inches across.