Did you know that for November – the Speciality Orchid is the Houseplant of the Month ?
I’ve been a fan of this type of plant for quite some time now now. Ever since I realised that there are so many different colours and types with such interesting histories. They add character to a room and some even offer health benefits.
At the moment I have four different types in our home that I would like to introduce you to. You may well know a lot more about them than me but I’ve tried to add a few facts too below in case you’re interested to know a little more about these fascinating houseplants …
This beauty is called Cattleya Hybrid. The petals are so silky. They make really striking houseplants with their thick leaves growing out of the tuber. I love the vibrancy of this magenta shade mixed with the yellow centre – they also come in white, orange, green and pastels and has the most varied appearance of all orchids. The deep and rich fragrance is amazing too – apparently has earned the Cattleya a rather special nickname – ‘ Queen of the Orchids ‘. As with many types of Speciality Orchids, the Cattleya prefers a light spot but not direct sunlight. The soil needs to almost dry out between waterings. It thrives best in high humidity – and a handy tip is to keep them in their pot on an island of damp clay pebbles. My plant has a little way to go yet but they can reach up to 15 cm in height.
Did you know that the expression ‘ to cattleya ‘ is a euphemism for amorous encounters between Odette and Swann in Marcel Proust’s seven volumes novel ‘ Remembrance of Things Past ‘ ? True that !
This is possibly my favourite Speciality Orchid with it’s starry bright petals and burgundy spots and turned stems – almost other worldly ? It’s a Brassia Orange Delight and as with all from the Brassia family – is light and fine, so it moves a little when you walk past it. They tend to be good in light all year round ( this helps with flowering ) and prefer to stay a little moist. They make lots of aerial roots which enjoyed being sprayed.
It is named after an illustrator called William Brass who was commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks at the end of the 18th century to collect unusual orchids. A job I would have quite liked myself but it was back in the 18th century …
This particular plant is in its early stages of flowering but it will eventually flower all along the stem – it has been nicknamed the the ‘s Spider Orchid ‘ for this reason. Out in the wild the Brassia uses it’s spidery shape to attract Spider Wasps which sting the lip and this then pollinates other Brassias. Isn’t nature amazing ?
Kind of like a mini tree this one. The stems look like bamboo with clusters of flowers growing out of the axil of each leaf. Like the Cattleya it has a lovely scent. In the wild, you will find it growing in the cool mountains of the Himalayas Jungle of New Guinea and all the desert of Australia. Interesting places to find them ? It means that they easily cope with a living room environment. They tend to flower for about 4 months and if you can wait another few months after they sometimes do again.
In total there are about 1,200 different species of Dendobrium. First discovered in 1799 by ‘ Olof Schwartz ‘. The name Dendobrium comes from from the Greek ‘ dendron’ ( tree ) and ‘ bios ‘ ( life ) and in the wild they grow harmlessly on trees as an epiphyte to derive it’s moisture. What is really cool about them is that they are known to be very good houseplants for removing toluene ( the most important ingredient in paint thinner ) and xylene ( a solvent for resins and fats ) from the air.
This Speciality Orchid is attractive with or without it’s flower because of its pretty leaves. Also ( and maybe more commonly ) known as ‘ Venus Slipper ‘ owing to the lip of the flower being in the shape of an elegant slipper. The name is derived from Paphos in Greece where the goddess Aphrodite arose from the sea and ‘ Pedalion ‘ which means ‘ slipper ‘ in Ancient Greece. Ironically though – you don’t find any wild Paphiopedilums anywhere in Greece ! It actually grows in South – East Asia.
Being a shade Speciality Orchid so it can tolerate partial shade but not full sun. They love fresh air as long as it isn’t too cold. I tend to remove my Paphiopedilum from its pot when watering and let water run though the roots before putting it back once it has drained well.
One bit of advice I would offer for this orchid and in fact all types – is to add stones for draining to the bottom of your pots to stop them sitting in any pools of water.
I always think that Speciality Orchids are too beautiful to play around with too much. It takes away from the star of the show – being the flower. But to add a little warmth, I’ve added some gold leaf to this pot and finished it with a rustic worn look. A metallic enriches the flower shades even more and adds to their already eye catching opulence.
I sprayed this old terracotta pot with glitter gold too. Just to enhance the pot and give it a little shimmer. What do you think ?
Hopefully you have enjoyed my little Speciality Orchid post – and have discovered something new about them ? You can also find out lots more about houseplants and see DIY projects at www.thejoyofplants.co.uk
Please do leave me a comment to let me know more about Speciality Orchids or if you have just enjoyed reading this ! Would love to hear from you.
This is a collaboration with The Joy of Plants. All opinions are my own.