The houseplant of the month for December is the Phalaenopsis Orchid, an elegant and feminine plant with slender stems, shiny leaves and butterfly-like flowers.

Fluttering flowers

Stemming from the Greek ‘Phalaina’ meaning ‘moth’, and ‘opsis’ meaning ‘like’, the Phalaenopsis flower resembles the fluttering wings of a moth, whilst possessing the beautiful colours of a butterfly. Growing perfectly folded flowers of all colours from salmon pink to bold blue, and having creatively speckled or banded patterns, the Orchid makes the perfect gift for a friend.

Style, class and a touch of Asia

This luxurious orchid is used to travelling the world. Discovering around 1700 in the tropical rainforests of Asia and Australia, the Phalaenopsis was brought to Western culture by explorers who were captivated by its beautiful colours and patterns. The Orchid naturally grows in trees or on rocks, but is equally suited to your window sill or desk.

Loving your Phalaenopsis

Keep the Orchid looking elegant for longer by positioning it with enough light to grow but avoiding bright sunlight between April and October. Submerge the pot once every seven to ten days in rain water for one minute. If you like to dwell in warm environments, be sure to spray the leaves with water regularly. If you like to take extra care, add Orchid fertiliser to the soil once a month from November to February and twice a month for the rest of the year.

Fun facts:

·    Some Orchids have a light perfume, but most don’t have any perfume at all

·    The Phalaenopsis Orchid is a symbol of solidarity, femininity, cooperation, spirituality, elegance and self respect and is therefore the perfect gift

·    The Phalaenopsis Orchid is happiest at temperatures between 20°C and 22°C. The minimum temperature for the plant is 16°C

·    Did you know that the Dutch shoe designer Jan Jansen has designed an Orchid shoe, based on the shape of the orchid?

·    To help the plant to flower for a second time, cut the stem above the second eye (counted from the bottom). Then you should place the plant in a cooler position and after approximately 2 months you can return the plant to its original         position to enjoy its lovely flowers

·    Not much space? You can also buy small Phalaenopsis Orchids

·    Even the roots of the Phalaenopsis Orchid are worth seeing, so a glass plant pot is a good idea

·    Phalaenopsis Orchids or Phalaenopsis are seen as the Orchid. All Phalaenopsis are actually Orchids, but not all Orchids are Phalaenopsis. Cambria, Dendrobium, Oncidium and Vanda are also Orchids

·    The Phalaenopsis Orchid was one of the first tropical flowers to be found in Victorian flower collections

·    Orchid Island is found off the coast of Taiwan, named as such because of the amount of Phalaenopsis Orchids flowering there

Houseplant of the month

The Phalaenopsis Orchid takes centre stage this month as houseplant of the month of December 2014. Houseplant of the month is an initiative of the Flower Council of Holland, the marketing heart of flowers and plants. Each month the Flower Council, in collaboration with representatives from the horticultural sector, chooses a plant that is well liked by the consumer, or isn’t known very well (yet) but has the potential to do well in the living room.

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