My favorite orchid must be the Phalaenopsis or Butterfly/Moth orchid. Their large petals, abundant flowers and stunning colors are really a sight to behold. They also last a really long time (3-5 weeks in the tropics, up to 8 weeks in cooler climates) and are perfect for the indoors when in bloom. Phalaenopsis apparently comes from the Greek word for “moth-like appearance”. The name was coined by a Dutch botanist in the mid-18th century after seeing the orchid in Indonesia. The orchids appear native to Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea or the archipelagos near the equator in the Western Pacific. They have large leaves, flowers from tiny to enormous, and thrive when attached to trees in constantly warm humid weather. However, cooler evening temperatures apparently triggers them to bloom, hence their abundance about now just a few months after the coldest season in the Philippines.
Phalaenopsis are grown commercially in huge quantities in Taiwan and these are exported to the U.S., Japan, Europe, and some Asian markets. A few years ago, I met an importer who used to bring in thousands of plants (primarily the white phalaenopsis amabilis) and would wholesale them at a very reasonable P350-500 per flowering plant. I used to buy tons of pots and after the blooms died, would stick them on tree trunks in our garden. Many died but about a dozen have really taken root and each year they reward their masters (the gardener and me) with the most spectacular blooms like the ones you see here. The imported plants seem to give consistently large blooms in abundance. I have found native or locally sourced plants to have less profuse flowers. As I write, I have 7 spikes of phalaenopsis orchids (some with 14 blooms, others with multiple spikes) from plants that I have nurtured for the past 3-4 years. And I live in the middle of the city, mired in pollution of all kinds!