Papilionanthe is the old name for this particular variety of Vanda with spiny stems and leaves. With the recent introduction of Vanda Miss Joaquim in our newsletter, I thought it might be appropriate to show more pictures since there’s limited space on our newsletter. =)
Papilionanthe are easy to grow here in Singapore. In fact, its one of the easiest orchid to grow in the tropics. Without any need for media and thriving on relatively low maintenance as compared to many other varieties of orchids. You can just tie one of these to your fence or railing to have them grow and flower. Papilionanthe orchids have meither an age limit nor height limit, the large it grows, the more flower it produces. It can withstand strong xerophytic conditions, and in fact needs strong sunlight in order to flower well.
Attached below is a gallery of Papilionanthe hybrids, they may look similar from far but click on the pictures individually and you will be surprised at how different one may look from the other.
How to grow Papilionanthe?
In the past, Papilionanthe are grown by typing them to a stake or wooden stump in the garden in a bright sunny spot. Tie a number of stems to the stump with equidistant spacing of about 8cm apart based on the size of the support. This is to ensure that each plant receives sufficient sunlight. Other methods of growing includes tying to a fence or railing as mentioned earlier. Providing this orchid plant with support is vital to achieve long sprays of flowers. With a good support, this orchid can reach massive heights and produce a greater number of flowers per spray.
Unlike most of the other orchids that we grow, more organic fertilizers can be applied for the growing of Papilionanthe. Many growers use readily available manure for growing them in the early days when cow, pig and chicken farms are still abundant in Singapore. It is good to keep the base of the plant constantly moist (not wet) during hot days. This allows the plant to take in more water & nutrient easily and thus produce longer sprays of flower.
Pests for Papilionanthe are relatively few due to its spiny stems and leaves which reduces surface area for attack. However. its soft flowers are susceptible to attacks of insects such as caterpillars, beetles and aphids. Periodic spraying of neem oil during the flowering season should do the trick of warding these off.