I remember it being a tad tricky trying to source a flowering Phalaenopsis in April in Queensland. My wife insisted that there was to be only one flower in her hair for the big day. I do remember it being a lot cooler just prior to the wedding day and this was a bonus. Not only did it mean that the wedding cake didn’t melt into a sloppy
riot of cream and currants but the glorious moth orchid was induced into an early bout of colour. Glamorous, finesse and durability are all the words that spring to mind as I gaze into the eyes of the Phalaenopsis orchid.
When I visited the Queensland International Orchid Fair at Bray Park in March it seems with the orchid growers of New South Wales and Queensland that things are going great guns. The stands were full with choice. There was little colour on show, but middle of the summer is hardly a fair time to expect colour from the moth orchid. Like most of us, it waits for cool, sunny days before stretching its legs and showing us all its distinctive qualities. For those of us that have dared to grow orchids, there can be no finer an art in growing these miniature wonders of plant life and to see such a choice on the fair tables was heart warming for those that thought orchid growing was a diminishing art.
The moth orchid (I say moth orchid but I did get a recent rap over the knuckles from a local grower for calling them that so I better stick to Phalaenopsis) is a seasonal flower, despite the fact we tend to see them all year round. This is generally due to force flowering at great expense and time by the grower. False chilling in the summer months and plenty of non-direct sunlight are just perfect to get these beauties in motion.
Much of the recent challenges for the Australian Phalaenopsis orchid grower has been the lifting of a ban on imported goods with media from overseas from countries such as Taiwan. The climate of Taiwan is sunny and ideal for growing orchids. At the moment, 95% of the Phalaenopsis produced in Taiwan are exported to international commercial growers.
By using a form of peat as the growing media, this has resulted in the ability to do long-distance shipping and meant that Taiwan’s Phalaenopsis orchids can endure a luxury yacht journey before landing on our shores. Prior to this time, Australia required that Phalaenopsis orchid seedlings being exported to Australia had to be medium-free and be applied with pesticides. A scenario that neither the Australians nor the Taiwanese wanted.
Time will tell if the Australian produced orchids and Taiwan imports can strike a balance that supports both parties and long may this delicate wonder of both the garden and kitchen table remain an Australian icon and a must that dons the reception tables of weddings throughout the globe.