The Phalaenopsis tetraspis is a monopodial epiphyte orchid species, native to Sumatra, growing in mangrove and other trees in swamps. In their natural habitat they receive intermediate to warm temperatures all year round and high humidity. In the home though this orchid can adapt to lower humidity, but it prefers much warmer temperatures than complex Phalaenopsis hybrids. The C#1 variety is distinctive because of its unstable color pattern. This orchid can also be found under the name Phal. speciosa var. Christiana.
Blooms are about 4 cm in diameter with variable color patterns. This orchid can produce different looking flowers on the same flower spike. Flowers can be either solid white, or solid red, but most of the times a combination of red and white petals and sepals, or present patches of red coloration on clear white petals. It is not yet fully confirmed what factors promote certain patterns of coloration.
The lip is small and elongated, presenting a furry tip. It also contains a vibrant purple colored patch and some faint yellow spots. Flowers are displayed on a thin flower spike and each blooming can bring 3-6 blooms that can last for up to 8 weeks. This orchid usually blooms once a year, in spring and summer.
Flower spikes emerge from between the leaves and are sequential bloomers. This means that the spikes will usually not dry up after the flowers fade. They will remain green and produce another set of flowers in the following season, along with other emerging flower spikes. In time and with age this orchid can produce multiple branching spikes and up to 100 flowers at once. The flower spikes take about 8 weeks to grow and produce buds, depending on temperature. If the temperatures are lower than 18-20 degrees Celsius, the flowering is postponed.
The flowers are mildly fragrant, smelling grassy and raw, sometimes reminding of mango fruit. The scent is more noticeable in the morning and noon, slowly fading away in the afternoon and not at all fragrant during night time.
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 glossy. With age they can grow up to 30 cm in length 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.
Video Presentation of Phalaenopsis tetraspis C#1