Articles About Orchids
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Articles About Orchids
 Aerangis biloba
    Fall is in the air here and I have been watching the birds. It is the time of year I see many different species of birds beginning their annual migration south for the winter.

   Geese, ducks and pelicans fly in groups forming great flocks, which is a site to behold in the autumn sky. Watching them reminds me of a special group of orchids named Aerangis

   Aerangis are known as "Birds in Flight." When you see the spectacular display of blooms, you may agree they look like a graceful and elegant "Flight of Doves."
   The flowers of many of the Aerangis species are produced in succession until the entire flower spike is full of graceful flowers with sepals and petals curving back, and their lips bending forward, the blossoms form the impression of a flight of birds.
   Aerangis species are naturally found in Madagascar and tropical Africa ranging from the very high, moist, and steamy elevations down to low semiarid areas. Aerangis species are small to medium orchids which produce very fragrant white or cream colored blossoms. Some species like Aerangis hyolides produce blossoms shaped like birds while other species like Aerangis curnowiana have blossoms shaped like stars with long flowing spurs, much like the Angraecum.
    Of course, with most orchids, some just have to be different and break the rules. The Aerangis species are no exception. Some have leaves that form small fans and love to be mounted, while others have alternating leaves on upright stems. Looking at them side by side you would not believe they belonged to the same genus.
   The Aerangis species are not hard to grow and because most are small in size, they make good orchids for the home, orchid cases or if your greenhouse is full, you can always find room for just “ONE MORE” of these little beauties. They love to be mounted on cork slabs or tree fern so their roots can dangle free in the breeze. They will also grow in pots if you use a fast draining media like medium bark.    They do not like to be soggy and the roots will rot very quickly. Provide strong air movement for them, much like the birds in flight, they also like wind beneath their wings…ah…leaves.
   The Aerangis species are primarily epiphytic with just a few being lithophytic. They have a vandaceous or phalaenopsoid growing habit. Below are some general cultural tips to use as a guideline. Check the cultural requirements for the species you are growing.
  • Light and Temperature The light range should be 1200-2000 fc filtered and never full direct afternoon sun. Some species like Aerangis grows in dense shade. Daytime temperature should range 75-80 oF (24-27 oC) with nighttime temperatures around 65-72 oF (18-22 oC).
  • Humidity, Water, and Fertilizer The humidityhumidity should range in the 70% range. Water heavy from late spring to early autumn, reducing the water in the winter. They like plenty of water when they are actively growing. Allow them to partially dry out between watering, but do not let them completely dry out. Keep them moist. Fertilize with a well balanced fertilizerthroughout their growing period, reduce or discontinue in the winter.
  • Rest Period A few of the species require a rest period during the winter months (Check the cultural requirements for the species you are growing). Temperatures should be lowered to 69-72 oF (18-22 oC) during the day and night temperatures down to 47-50 oF (8-10 oC). Reduce water with just enough to keep the leaves from shriveling and keep the plant moist. Early morning misting between watering will help the plant maintain its moisture level preventing it from drying out. Eliminate fertilizer until spring or you see new growth activity. When new growth appears, raise the temperatures, increase watering, and begin to fertilize as normal. If you did the rest period correctly, you will be rewarded with a spike full of blooms.
Here are just a few of the beautiful species found in this group of orchids:
  •    Aerangis biloba - Produces pendant inflorescence with 12 or more flowers in a double row. Warm growing from West Africa.
  •    Aerangis citrata - Under 4" in size, loves warm shaded areas. Produces long pendant inflorescence with up to 30 blooms.
  •    Aerangis fastuosa - A tiny little plant similar to a Phalaenopsis in appearance. The flowers are fragrant with a sweet scent and have very long spurs. One of the most fragrant orchids around.
  •    Aerangis articulata - One of the best species to grow. It is warm growing and very showy when it blooms in the spring. It has a 10" pendant inflorescence and fragrant.
  •    Aerangis macrocentra - This species has pretty medium gray-green leaves with golden-reddish edging. The pendent infloresences often can bear up to thirty, 1/2" flowers.
  •    Aerangis distincta - This species has very usual lobed leaves with showy large white, fragrant flowers.
  •    Aerangis kirkii - Produces fans with its leaves and the flowers look like a flight of doves.
  •    Aerangis rhodosticta - Grows under 5" tall and forms a fan with its leaves. Prefers a shady damp area and loves to be mounted. The flowers are accented with a bright red anther cap.
  • Aerangis clavigera - This one looks like lace when it is in bloom, grows much like a Phalaenopsis.
  •    Aerangis modesta - A little miniature orchid that likes to be grown mounted. It can produce up to 25 flowers at a time.
  •    Aerangis mystacidii - Produces beautiful cream colored flowers with a long pinkish-colored spur.
  •    Aerangis luteo-alba var. rhodosticta - If you have a humid area available, this is the species for you because it loves high humidity. Produces fragrant flowers on a pendulous inflorescence in two rows. This species requires a winter rest period.
  •    If you need help understanding some of the words that are used when talking about plants visit my Orchid Glossary or download this free e-book!.