Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Doritis pulcherrima

One of the most reliable orchids for late summer and fall blooms is Doritis pulcherrima. Even the smallest plants rarely fail to send up a spike each year.
This genus is closely related to Phalaenopsis and much hybridization between the two has been done over the years. The Doritis genes bring smaller plant size and a more erect flower spike to their progeny.
The natural species usually only has a leaf spread of 4-6 inches and several plants can grow comfortably together in a 4-inch pot.
They multiply by clumping so it's typical to see plants grouped together in a single pot. When they fill the pot it's time to divide them, giving each one its own space. I like to divide in the spring, giving the young plants all summer to get established and ready for the annual bloom.
Individual flowers are about 3/4 inch across, with petals strongly recurved back toward the stem. The blooms open a few at a time, progressing up the spike, which continues to elongate as new buds are produced. The flowering period easily lasts for 2-3 months, with the spikes often reaching 3 feet in height. In high light the spikes are mostly vertical, but in shade they tend to bend toward the light.
Doritis pulcherrima is a fairly cold-tolerant species and survives brief temperatures in the upper 20°F range if situated under dense trees or shrubs during cold snaps. It also tolerates higher light and drier conditions than its Phalaenopsis relatives.


David The Good said...

Those are gorgeous. My orchids have not been happy. I was given a few and hung them on my back porch in full shade. I'm guessing they don't like the heat or the dryness or something, though I do mist them with the hose when I water the garden. I'm obviously not doing it right... what should I do better?

Grower Jim said...

Orchids are a very diverse family of plants and the care depends on what genus you're growing. In general, most prefer bright indirect light, good air circulation and good drainage.

David The Good said...

Thanks, Jim. I wish I knew what I have - I received an un-labeled handful of plants left behind by a gal that moved up North.

I'm going to put them beneath my papaya where the rain will get them and see if that helps. Most of my research and writing has been on growing food... orchids are total luxury plants for me. I'm probably not worthy. ;)