Asahi image Copyright Evelyn Drew

Hybridizing with Phalaenopsis Species
by Bill Livingston

Doritis pulcherrima

The genus Doritis has only one species, D. pulcherrima, with several varieties. (Christenson, 2001 has sunk Doritis into the genus Phalaenopsis and recognizes the three varieties as separate species -Ed.) Doritis pulcherrima is known for its varied colors: white; white with red lip; white with yellow splashed petals; pink with dark fuchsia splashed petals; blue; pink; rose; and the best color, most used in hybridization, is a brilliant dark magenta which is found in nature in both diploid and tetraploid forms.

Doritis pulcherrima var. pulcherrima has a tall, erect and branching spike habit, with flowers generally facing in the same direction when opening. This characteristic is dominant in its first generation hybrids. The spike can carry 10 to 25 flowers which open in succession. This plant can grow plantlets from the side and base of the plant, forming a fine specimen within a few years, a characteristic that can appear in some of its first generation hybrids. I have had several plants that stayed continually in bloom for a year or more. The variety D. pulcherrima var. buyssoniana has flowers twice the size of the diploid forms of D. pulcherrima, but its color is pale lavender. This variety was used to produce some of our first Doritaenopsis hybrids. The flowering season of D. pulcherrima var. buyssoniana is usually from June to August; the diploid form flowers longer, from June to December.

Doritis have bred more readily with Phalaenopsis than with any other genus. Doritis chromosomes are much larger than those of Phalaenopsis and a number of the resulting hybrids are sterile. I always preferred to choose plants which first had the dark magenta color, then I looked at the shape. Doritis pulcherrima var. buyssoniana never interested me much as a hybridizer, although it is good to cross with tetraploid standard sized phalaenopsis which will then produce fertile hybrids.

This article which has been reprinted here with permission, originally appeared in the Volume 66, Number 4 edition of Orchid Digest, (Oct-Dec 2002), which is a Special Edition that highlights Phalaenopsis, and also features an excellent article on Phal culture by the Tuskes. The Phalaenopsis Special Edition of Orchid Digest can be ordered from Orchid Digest for $22. Highly recommended.

This article, all of its sections and accompanying photographs
are copyright 2002 by Orchid Digest Corporation.

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Robert Bedard Horticulture Scotts Valley, CA (831) 439-9484
All content 2005 by Robert Bedard. Last update: 12/10/05
Dtps. Asahi Image Copyright Evelyn Jenkins Drew