Phalaenopsis bellina is a monopodial epyphite orchid species, native to Malaysia and Borneo. It used to be called Phal. violacea var. Borneo due to its native location, but the correct classification is now bellina. This orchid grows on trees and branches in shady lowland forests, at elevations of 200 m or lower. This is one of the most iconic Phalaenopsis species, due to its exquisite appearance and delicious fragrance, few serious orchid collectors miss it from their orchid collections.
Blooms are about 4-5 cm in diameter and are usually produced above the leaves. The two lower sepals seem to rest on the leaves. The colors can vary greatly from one individual to another. Pattern can vary slightly as well, some colors might be paler and less evenly distributed across the flower.
The lip is narrow and elongated, having a deep magenta color in most cases, but can vary depending on variety. The upper sepal can curve to the front, depending on particular individuals. The blooms might not be large, but they do charm with subtlety.
The blooms are displayed on a short and compact flower spike which emerges from between the leaves are elongates forward. The spike can be about 3 cm long before starting to create a bud, making it a very compact bloomer. Each spike can carry between 1-3 flowers at one time, which arrange themselves facing the light source.
The Phalaenopsis bellina ‘Red Apple’ is a sequential bloomer, meaning that a flower spike can keep reblooming for several years. Cutting is not preferable if the spike is still green, as in time this orchid can produce a multitude of spikes and flowers. The bellina usually blooms in the warm months of spring and summer and flowers can last between 1 to 3 months.
This orchid has one of the most wonderful fragrances of the orchid world. Unlike its relative the bellina, the ‘Red Apple’ variety seems to have a sweeter, heavier fragrance. Though it does remind of the bellina, it can sometimes be less intense. Smell is a personal preference, but this is one of those fragrances that is hard to dislike. The intensity is quite strong still on this one, usually smelling more intense in the morning and noon hours, while in the night time it is not fragrant at all.
This orchid is a monopodial orchid, meaning it produces leaves that emerge from a central stem. New leaves will always be produced from the top of the orchid and roots will appear along the lower part of the stem.
The leaves are a light green and appear to be very glossy and slightly wavy. With age they can grow up to 30 cm in length or more and have a downward growth. Each year the orchid will produce one or two new leaves and the bottom leaves will dry and fall regularly. This orchid will usually have between 4 and 8 leaves at one time.
Roots are thick and can grow inside the growing media as well as outside, known as aerial roots. When wet they will have a green color, while when dry they will be silvery grey. Actively growing roots will have green tips. Rots that don’t receive light will be a pale yellow.
This orchid can be grown in pots with a free draining and ventilated media and, depending on environment, bark chips, coconut husk or sphagnum moss can be used, as long as it is not compacted. It can also be grown mounted on cork or in a hanging basket. Plantlets (keikis) may appear at the base of the orchid.
Soft spots: stem and crown rot, root rot if media is too compacted, spider mites, Botrytis, bud blast if temperatures are too low
Overall it is a hardy orchid and quite easy to grow even in a home environment. As long as temperatures are intermediate to warm and relative humidity is not lower than 40-50%, this orchid can bloom regularly and do generally well. The striking colors and mouthwatering fragrance usually make up for any other minor fuss this orchid might offer.