Den Phal Orchids

Are they Phals or Dendrobiums?  Den Phals are Dendrobiums, and they’re very popular orchids. Also called Phalaenopsis-type Dendrobiums, or Phalanthe-type Dendrobiums, their confusing names derive from their resemblance to Phal flowers. They represent a small section of the large Dendrobium family, but they’ve become some of the most commonly cultivated varieties.

Phalaenopsis-type Dendrobium, purple and white flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2008, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis-type Dendrobium hybrid, purple and white flowers, Orchids in the Park 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis-type Dendrobium hybrid, pink and white flower, Kawamoto Orchid Nursery, Honolulu, Hawaii

Phalaenopsis-type Dendrobium, Dendrobium Enobi Purple 'Splash', orchid hybrid flower, Orchids in the Park 2012, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis-type Dendrobium hybrid, dark purple flowers, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Papaikou, HawaiiPhalaenopsis-type Dendrobium hybrid, white flowers with pink stripes, Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Den Phals come in a range of whites, pinks, and purples, and there are even some with green blooms. They’re popular as potted plants. As cut flowers, they’re often used in bouquets, as food garnishes, and to make Hawaiian leis. Their flowers do look similar to Phals, or Moth Orchids, and it can be tough to distinguish them.

Phalaenopsis-type Dendrobium hybrid, white flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2008, San Francisco, CaliforniaLei made with Phalaenopsis-type Dendrobium hybrid flowers and tuberose flowers, Honolulu, HawaiiPhalaenopsis-type Dendrobium hybrid, purple and white flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2008, San Francisco, California

Fortunately, there’s an easy trick to tell Phals from Den Phals. While their flowers may be similar, they have very different plants and leaves. Den Phals grow tall canes, or pseudobulbs, that look like thick stems, and their leaves are narrow and pointed (see the first photo below.)  On the other hand, Phals have broad leaves which are connected at their base, without any central stem (see the middle photo below for Phal leaves, and the final photo for a Phal bloom.)

It’s important to distinguish them because their care needs are different. Den Phals need more sun that Phals, and can handle a wider range of temps. Let Den Phals dry between thorough waterings. They don’t need a dormant period, but growers outside the tropics should cut back water and fertilizer in the lower light and cooler temps of winter. Den Phal flowers can last for weeks, which helps contribute to their popularity.

Phalaenopsis-type Dendrobium plant showing leaves and stems (also called canes or pseudobulbs), Kapaau, Big Island of HawaiiPhalaenopsis leaves, Moth Orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis flower, Moth Orchid hybrid, yellow orange and red flower, Orchid Mania Greenhouse, San Francisco, California

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One Comment on “Den Phal Orchids”

  1. Eduardo Says:

    This is a fantastic blog, could you put more pictures up like these?