Articles About Orchids
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Articles About Orchids
    Bring a touch of the Orient to your windowsill with a noble Japanese Wind Orchid!
   You too can cultivate this little jewel long treasured by Japanese royalty for its fragrance and foliage. In Japan, this orchid is commonly known as Fu-ran "The Wind Orchid." It is also known as Fuki-ran which means "Rich and Noble Orchid".
   Some history books document connections between the Samurai culture and this tiny plant. In his book A History of the Orchid, Merle A. Reinikka writes, "Samurai warriors grew Neofinetia falcata, known as an orchid of wealth and nobility."
   Samurai warriors would travel for miles in the search for this tiny orchid to bring back to the royal court. If the warrior succeeded in his quest, it was considered a sign of his bravery.
   Even today, Japanese royalty prize Neofinetia falcata for its beautiful foliage and wonderful fragrance of the dainty flowers.
    The Japanese Wind Orchid, Neofinetia falcata (Thunberg) H. H. Hu (1925), was the sole member of its genus until 1996. The generic name, Neofinetia, commemorates the French botanist Achille Finet (1862-1913). The species name, falcata refers to the sickle-shaped prominent spur of the flowers.
   Due to its similarities to other orchids, Neofinetia falcata has been known by many different names.
Japanese Wind Orchid
   It was once most commonly listed as Angraecum falcatum (Thunberg) Schlecter because the little flowers produce 2" long spurs much like the Angraecums and the leaves are shaped like an Angraecum or the strap-leafed Vanda. Neofinetia falcata has also been listed as:
  • Aerides thunbergii Miguel
  • Angraecum falcatum (Thunberg) Lindley
  • Finetia falcata (Thunberg)Schlecter
  • Orchis falcata Thunberg
  • Oeceoclades falcata (Thunberg) Lindley
  • Nipponorchis falcata (Thunberg) Masamune
  • Holcoglossumn falcatum (Thunberg) Garay & Sweet
  • Angraeacopsis falcata (Thunberg) Schlecter
   As you can see, this little orchid was so different that no one could make up his or her mind what genus it should belong. Eventually, it was placed in its own unique genus where it was listed all by itself for many years. Recently, however, a new species has been added. Neofinetia richardsiana which E.A. Christenson described in 1996. Found in China and Korea, the main difference between the two species is the spur. The length of N. falcata is 4cm and the length of N. richardsiana is only 1cm.
Neofinetia falcata is a tiny little 15 cm epiphytic orchid that is widespread in China, Korea, Japan and the Ryukyu Islands.
   It has become a very popular orchid in the USA. N. falcata has been used extensively in hybridizing creating such beautiful hybrids as Neostylis (x Rhynchostylis), Ascofinetia (x Ascrocentrum), Vandafinetia (x Vanda) to name just a few of the over 30 currently available.
By using Neofinetia as a parent, hybridizers achieve petite plants and floriferous nature in many different color combinations.
  I have the beautiful cross Ascofinetia Peaches 'Kultan' (shown left), which blooms in late summer, the same time as my N. falcata.
   This little orchid and its hybrids are excellent for windowsill growing or under lights. Their compact habit is perfect for small areas. The fragrance of this little orchid produces fills a room like a very fragrant vanilla candle. Most of the hybrid crosses are very fragrant as well.
   During the summer active growth period, N. falcata requires humid conditions, plenty of water, and moderate shade. Sitting in a kitchen window above a sink or in a bright bathroom are ideal locations. In the winter when the roots are not actively growing, you should reduce watering slightly. In the orient, N. falcata is typically grown on mounds of Sphagnum moss in shallow bonsai dishes made to look like they are sitting on mountains.
  The temperature preferred by this little jewel is really on the cool side when compared to other orchids. In the summer, it prefers a daytime average of 26-31 oC with nights of 19-23 oC. The minimum winter temperature should be no lower than 10-12 oC.   
   Preferred light range is 2000-3600 fc and they enjoy 80-85% humidity. Never let these little orchids dry out. Water liberally during the summer growing period.
   Lightly fertilize. If potted, make sure to flush the pots during watering to prevent accumulations of harmful salts and minerals.
   Allow your orchid to rest during the winter. Provide cooler temperatures and less water, but do not allow them to dry out. Stop fertilizing until new active growth appears in the spring. Give them as much light as possible during this time since the winter light is not as bright as the summer light.
   You can mount your N. falcata on slabs of tree bark, cork slab or on Osmunda pads. Or do like the Japanese, and grow them in mounds of Sphagnum moss. If grown on slabs, the humidity must be closely maintained and water applied often to prevent dehydration. Another option is to wrap the roots in Sphagnum moss or coconut fiber and place your orchid into a small flower pot. This is the way I grow mine. I grow my Ascofinetia hybrid in a planter basket covering the exposed roots with a light layer of coconut fiber.
   If you can provide the habitat this very special little orchid needs, it will reward you for many years with its fragrance and beauty. Try one and I am sure you will not be disappointed.