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Orchids available on the market are either species or hybrids.

Species are designated by two Latin words in italics, the first designates the genus and the first letter only is a capital letter, the second designates the species, and is in lower case. Sometimes the name of the variety (var.) or the form (f.) is added, they will also be in italics. The clone name (between quotes) and the mention will follow (if the plant has been awarded during a judging).


Paphiopedilum rothschildianum `Mont Millais’  FCC/RHS

       -- genus --          -- species --       -- clonal name --  -- award from RHS --

Phalaenopsis stuartiana var. nobilis

   -- genus --       -- species --      -- variety --  

Hybrids are designated by two names: the genus (always in italics) whose first letter is a capital letter, and the grex (name of the crossing, registered with the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society)) which can contain several words. The name of the grex is not italicized and the first letter of each word is capitalized. Often the clone name between quotes and without italics follows the grex name. The clone name is required when the plant has been judged and won an award. Finally, the deserved mention follows the clone name.

Example: Phragmipedium Schoederae ‘Coos Bay’  AM /AOS

                      -- genus--              -- grex--   -- clonal name--  -- award from AOS --

Primary hybrids

These are hybrids resulting from an artificial crossing between two species. Only the name of the genus will be italicized. The first letter of genus and grex names will be capitalized.

Example: Phalaenopsis amabilis X Phalaenopsis equestris

                  = Phalaenopsis Artemis

                              -- genus --         -- grex -- 

Natural hybrids

These are hybrid plants from nature. Such a crossing comes from the fact that 2 colonies of species of the same genus are established close to each other, making crossing possible by pollinating insects present on the site. The name of these hybrid plants is italicized and the grex name (in lowercase) is preceded by an ‘x’.

Example: Phalaenopsis x leucorrhoda

                        -- genus --             -- grex -- 

This rule does not apply to the same hybrids that would be artificially created. In this case, there will be no 'x', the grex name will not be italicized and its first letter will be capitalized.

Example: Phalaenopsis Leucorrhoda

                         -- genus --         -- grex -- 

In some cases, we will only have to remove the 'x' and capitalize the first letter of the grex name and in other cases, a completely different grex name will be used. (see the RHS website for the register of hybrid names).

Complex hybrids

These are hybrids resulting from a cross between a species and a hybrid, or from two hybrids of the same genus.

Example: Cattleya Suzuki's Green Panther

                       -- genus --              -- grex – 

Intergeneric hybrids

These are hybrids resulting from crossing between species or hybrids of different genera, but genetically compatible. The name of the intergeneric cross will be italicized.

Example:  X Potinara Hoku Gem

Read an orchid name
Abbreviations for the orchids genera names

The genus name is frequently abbreviated on labels. Only the first letter is capitalized and there is always a ‘.’ at the end.

Examples: Phal.   Paph.   Phrag.   Rlc.   Bc.

It is sometimes difficult to know what genus an abbreviation corresponds to. Here is a list of abbreviations used for orchid genera names, whether natural or complex hybrids:

List of the abbreviations for the genera names


Flower spike initiation for Phalaenopsis which flower in the winter (both species and hybrids), is a process that takes about 4 to 6 weeks and begins at the end of the summer. Starting in the month of September we must observe the following conditions:

Temperature and photoperiod

A temperature difference of about 8°C between day and night temperatures is needed. Therefore, the nights should be cooler, but no lower than 15°C.  It should be warmer during the day.


Plants should be close to the light source, whether it is a window facing the Southwest or uses an artificial light source. When using neon bulbs for lighting, plants should be placed with the tops of the plants 15cm below the tubes.  There should be more space between the light source and the tops of the plants if a stronger source is being used. If the plant is too close to a strong light source, the leaves may burn.

Watering and fertilizing

  • The medium should dry out well between waterings.

  • Fertilize at a quarter of the dose recommended by the manufacturer and use a fertilizer that is rich in potassium (12-0-44).

  • Keep the growing area well ventilated.

  • As soon as flower stems appear, decrease the amount of light the plant receives and increase the frequency of fertilization, using a quarter dose of a more balanced fertilizer (21-5-20, 10-4-3) to help with the growth of the floral stem..

  • Once or twice a month, water with pure (no fertilizer or other products added) water to leach out mineral salts that have accumulated in the media and around the roots.


To encourage a second flowering on the same stem: cut the flower stem just above the last dormant bud below the first faded flower.  A branch will emerge and carry new flowers.  A word of caution:  make sure that the plant is mature (has more than two leaves) and that it is very vigorous. If these conditions are not met, the plant could put all of its energy into flowers, and not enough into maintaining proper growth.  It is not advised to perform this technique more than once on the same flower stalk.

Initiating flowering Phalaenopsis


The first thing to do is carefully unwrap each plant, trying to cause as little additional damage as possible.  Remember, these plants have already gone through a great deal of stress to get to you.

  • Once unwrapped, inspect the plant and do any necessary cleaning such as cutting off brown leaves, dead roots, etc.

  • Inspect each plant thoroughly and look for any signs of pests or disease.  If you do find one of these problems, place it apart (quarantine) from your other plants to avoid contaminating the healthy plants.  Treat the plant with the appropriate product or technique, depending on whether you have a fungal disease, bacterial disease or an insect problem.  Once this has been done, follow the other steps.

  • Check the overall condition of the plant, including its state of turgor (the normal rigidity of the soft parts of the plant, such as the leaves, stem and petals).

Direct repotting

If the leaves on the plant are turgid (firm) and its root system is in good condition, it can be immediately repotted into a small clay or plastic pot that is proportional to the size of its root system.


Why a small pot?  The root system is not fully functional due to the stress of travel and lack of moisture along the way.  You want to make sure that the medium dries up quickly between waterings in order to prevent root rot and encourage the growth of new roots.


In this case, use the appropriate medium for this type of plant, generally either a bark mix or sphagnum moss.

Receiving plants with bare roots


If your plants arrive in a state of dehydration (limp leaves), don’t panic!!  Before repotting the plants, they must be rehydrated. To do this, fill a large container with lukewarm sugar water (5ml of sugar per litre of water) and completely immerse the plant(s) in the sugar water for 2-3 hours.  Be sure to attach the ID tags to the plants if you are doing a ‘community bath’ to avoid identification nightmares further down the road.

Before repotting, rinse the plants well with clean water to remove any residual sugar as this could cause bacterial problems.


Then repot in small clay or plastic pots, in a mixture of sphagnum moss and large perlite for the entire the rehydration period.  This could last a few weeks, or until the leaves become completely turgid.  Only then should you repot in a medium which is appropriate for this type of plant.


As these plants are in a state of dehydration and do not yet have a functional root system that allows them to absorb water, the potting medium must be allowed to dry out well between waterings in order to prevent root rot. It will be necessary to increase the ambient humidity around the plant to counteract the state of dehydration while the root system reestablishes itself.

These plants should be placed in low intensity lighting, under a dome or in a clear plastic bag in order to create a high humidity environment.  Once in a while, lift the dome or open the bag to allow excess moisture (condensation) to escape.


Once the plants are rehydrated, and the leaves are rigid again, move them to a place where they will receive their appropriate amount of light.

Care after potting

Do not put newly acquired plants into your collection immediately as they may be harboring pests and diseases that may contaminate your entire collection.

Place them in an area that has reduced lighting until new growths have started and the quarantine period is over.  Only then can they be included in your collection.


Do not fertilize the plants during this readjustment period.

In both cases, plants that are dehydrated or plants which were potted immediately, the medium should be allowed to dry out well between waterings.


Increase the humidity around newly acquired plants by using a humidifier or a tray with water and pebbles at the bottom.  It is important that the bottom of the pot sit on the pebbles and not touch the water directly.


The base of plants, such as Cattleyas, can be misted regularly to encourage new root growth.


Completely dissolve one 500mg aspirin tablet in one gallon (4 litres) of water, or one 325mg aspirin tablet in 3 litres of water.  Use this solution once or twice, with a minimum of one month between applications.  It can be sprayed at the base of the plant, or used to water the medium.  This treatment will stimulate the plant to make new roots.


For plants received in a dormant state, repot in a suitable medium in a small pot, water well, and “leave them alone” until the appearance of new growth.  If needed, you can mist them from time to time to prevent dehydration.

Ecological insect treatment

Several problems, such as insects or diseases, can be solved by using household products, without having to resort to using pesticides:

70% Alcohol

Dilute 50/50 with water for plants that have tender (thin) leaves and full strength for all other plants.  To combat mealy bugs, aphids and other insects, dab affected areas with a cotton swab soaked in 70% alcohol, or spray the leaves on all surfaces.


Source: Cactus en ligne


Is known to have antifungal properties. Sprinkle on cuts (i.e. after removing a leaf) or on plant surfaces affected by fungal diseases. 


Use the original product, the yellow one. It has both antifungal and antibacterial properties, and is good for disinfecting cuts (wounds) and disinfecting growing areas.

Black soap (le savon noir)

Dilute at a rate of 75ml black soap in one litre of water.  It can be used to combat mealybugs, mites and aphids. It is important to rinse the leaves one week after the application.  This will remove any remaining soap residue in order to prevent phytotoxicity.

Horticultural Mineral Oil

Mix one part mineral oil with nine parts water in a spray bottle. Use against mealybugs, mites, kermes (a species of scale), thrips, and aphids.  It works by suffocating the insects, as well as the larvae and eggs.

Do not use this treatment in direct sunlight or place plant in direct sunlight after treatment.  Doing so may cause leaf burn.  Do not repeat the treatment for at least seven to ten days.  Treating too frequently will cause a thick layer of oil to build up, which can clog the stomata in the leaves and could result in phytotoxicity. Use the Black Soap treatment (above) seven to ten days after the Mineral Oil Treatment to dissolve the oil layer.

If you grow your plants outdoors during the summer, they should be treated for insects before they are brought inside. Immerse the entire pot in an insecticidal solution.  Then spray the leaves of the plants, once a week for three weeks, with fresh insecticide solution. At the end of the three-week treatment, the plants can be brought back in the house.

More recipes that can be used indoors for pest control

Insecticidal Soap recipe

  • 500 ml water

  • 15 ml dish soap or Black Soap

  • 500 ml 70% alcohol

Garlic Oil

  • 3 heads of garlic, chopped, in 60 ml vegetable oil. Steep for 24 hours at room temperature.

  • Strain this mixture. To this liquid add one litre of soapy water (15 ml of dish soap/1itre of water).

Buying orchids

When buying orchids, only choose plants that are healthy, well labelled and well potted.  Keep the plants quarantined from the rest of your collection for a period of four to six weeks. Problems such as pests or diseases, which may not be present at the time of purchase, may appear during this period.  Only buy plants that have been artificially propagated and/or come from reliable orchid producers. This helps in the conservation of orchids in the wild. The collection of plants from their natural habitat, even in small quantities and by well-meaning collectors, could directly contribute to the disappearance of these plants in the wild.  Also, these plants grow in symbiosis with microscopic fungi which is found in their natural habitat.  Without these fungi, plants often wither and die when they are transplanted.


Calcium is an important mineral for the growth of some Paphiopedilum species.  Adding calcium to their supplement routine is recommended.  After much research and many discussions with experts who grow Paphiopedilums, we have succeeded in creating a table which may help you understand which Paphiopedilums would benefit from the addition of calcium.  We hope that this table can help you.

List of  calcicolous Paphiopedilum

Paphiopedilum hirsutissimum

Source: Orchids Forum

Calcicolous Paphiopedilum

Adding chelated iron to your supplement routine corrects the iron deficiency found in many cultural situations.  Iron can be applied directly to the top of the medium, or can be sprayed directly on the leaves in conjunction with fertilizers.  It is important to do phytotoxicity tests first, to see how your plant will react to the addition of iron.


Iron plays a role in plant metabolism, especially in respiration and the synthesis of chlorophyll.  Iron deficiency can cause photosynthesis to stop and cause damage to the plant, which is often irreversible.  The first sign of iron deficiency is a noticeable yellowing of the leaves, while the veins remain green.  By this time, it is often too late to save the plant.


Always pay attention to the visible signs that your plants are showing you.



  1. As with all pesticides, chemical compatibility should be done on a small section of the plant before using it on the entire plant.

  2. Always respect the recommended dose, as to avoid toxicity for the plant.

Chelated iron

Bactol is used to prevent fungal or bacterial attacks.

Description of Bactol and how to use it

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