So Beautiful In The Rain

One orchid species that blooms during the seasonal monsoon months is the Vanda sanderiana. Locally known as the "Waling-waling," this orchid is one of the most beautiful and popular orchid species in the Philippines. So pretty is this plant, it was chosen to be the symbol of the Philippine Orchid Society (POS) logo. The POS even holds its yearly Midyear Orchid and Garden Show between the months of August and September to celebrate the plant's blooming season. In fact, the POS is showcasing this plant at this year's Midyear Orchid and Garden Show which runs from August 31 to September 10 at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

Similarly, orchid growers in Davao celebrate the lavish Kadayawan Festival on the third week of August to coincide with the blooming of this unique flower.

Because of its beauty, the Vanda sanderiana has been dubbed "Queen of Philippine Orchids" and was even suggested by legislators to replace the Sampaguita as the country's national flower. The species blooms in the Philippines from July to October, usually after experiencing three weeks of continuous rain.

This plant is a slow grower yet it's easy to maintain for as long as you religiously follow its cultural requirements. The plant thrives in partly shaded locations and needs to be protected from full sunlight exposure. Growers living in the lowlands install two to three layers of shade nets eight feet above the plants during the summer season. The early morning sun is best for the plant. The plant can survive dry conditions but it's best to water it once day to provide sufficient moisture and high humidity. For optimum growth, this orchid will require a balanced yet dilute foliar fertilizer solution. A dosage of one teaspoon per gallon of water and is recommended to be sprayed once every day.

The Waling waling is susceptible to sucking insects like mites, aphids and scales. These pests can be controlled by spraying a dilute solution of Perla soap detergent. Use Lannate or Sevin insecticide if heavy infestation occurs. During the rainy season, growers need to spray the plants with a dilute solution of Captan or Dithane fungicide to protect the plants from rotting due to water-borne fungal diseases.

These plants can be propagated by top-cutting. Upper portions of stems with a few leaves and roots are cut using a sterile pair of pruning shears. Top-cuts are repotted on plastic or wooden baskets or clay pots with charcoal. Wounds incurred by the cuts are sealed with a fungicide paste to prevent rotting.

Watering is usually withheld for three days and resumed again to induce the establishment of roots. New shoots will sprout from the severed stem. Plants are again fertilized using orchid foliar fertilizer to keep them healthy.

Waling-waling orchids are epiphytes and they can be potted on plastic or hardwood baskets. They can also be mounted on tree fern slabs, or in drift woods with their roots well exposed.

For more information about the POS Midyear Show, contact the POS Secretariat at Tel. Nos. 929-4425 or Mobile No. 0917-8485468.

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