Phalaenopsis amabilis
Phalaenopsis amabilis
Phalaenopsis amabilis



Within the multitude of orchids that exist, those that belong to the genus Phalaenopsis are the most cultivated. Their popularity has increased in recent years due to their easy cultivation and the fact that they bloom indoors throughout the year. Statistical data from the Netherlands show that between 1983 and 1994 the number of Phalaenopsis sold on the Aalsmeer market increased from 50,000 to 3,150,000. In 1983, Phalaenopsis represented less than 5% of the orchids on the market; in 1994, it reached 66% of total orchid production. The large-scale production of this plant takes place in China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan and the United States. The specimens that make up the species are in the possession of collectors, while the hybrids, produced in large quantities, are those that are marketed.

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Orchids of the genus Phalaenopsis are monopodically growing plants, which means that the leaves are generated from a single growth point called the apical meristem. Occasionally, if the apical meristem is damaged, either by rot or mechanical effects, the plant can produce lateral shoots that resume growth. Some species are more predisposed to this behavior than others.

Phalaenopsis is a genus that inhabits the tropical rainforest at low altitude. In these jungles the temperatures are between 28 and 35 ºC during the day and between 20 and 24 ºC at night. Orchids belonging to this genus generally grow epiphytes, glued to the trunks of trees. Some species grow lithophyte, on mossy rocks. This way of life has some advantages such as, for example, the competition for light and nutrients that exists between terrestrial plants in the tropical forest; as they are higher up, they receive considerably more light than if they were on the ground. As a great disadvantage we find that when fully exposed to air they dry out quickly. For this reason the roots have developed a spongy tissue structure, the canopy, which covers them and allows them to absorb more water in less time. The relative humidity in the jungle where the orchids of the Phalaenopsis genus live is very high, practically 100%, with almost constant rains; therefore, the problem of dehydration does not arise.

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