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Phalaenopsis Tetraspis - The Most Undemanding Orchid

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Fallenopsis are true Spartans among the orchid species. And one of the most hardy species is Phalaenopsis quadriceps, or Tetraspis. It is content with minimal care, not at all capricious, easily adapted. And, unfortunately, almost completely disappeared from window sills. Variety hybrids with their spectacular flowering can be found at every step, but you will have to hunt for each species. And pay a hefty price. But if you like exotics and are tired of such predictable beauty then the magnificent Phalaenopsis tetraspis will gladly conquer the title of the most undemanding epiphyte in your collection. © Regina Elsner

Phalaenopsis tetraspicus is the most reliable of the species Phalaenopsis

Within the species orchids it is not the species Phalaenopsis that usually attracts universal admiration and attention, but their competitors. They are considered so rare that only a decade ago ordering plants from their homeland was the only way to get a specimen. But once the first Phalaenopsis of Thai or Malaysian origin settled on collectors' windowsills, their advantages became apparent. So, along with other rare orchid species, the "butterflies" began to appear in catalogs and on the counters.

When looking at phalaenopsis, which gave rise to thousands of magnificent varieties that we see at every turn, it is worth looking first of all at the Phalaenopsis quadrupedal. This species is valuable for its ease of cultivation, but its ornamental characteristics are also worth a closer look.

Phalaenopsis tetraspis (Phalaenopsis tetraspis) is best known by its species name, rather than the translated name phalaenopsis tetraspis. It is a unique plant, widespread in the tropical forests of Asia - remarkably tenacious, long-lived, and hardy.

Falenopsis tetraspis

is a monopodial epiphyte belonging to the ranks of medium-sized orchids. It is generally similar to its successors, both in foliage, structure, and developmental cycles. But still somewhat more modest and "simpler" in all parameters.

The root system of Phalaenopsis tetraspis is strikingly developed and strong. Thick, light green roots develop constantly and form a dense network. They are quite fragile, often pointing upward and are knocked out of their containers, resembling air roots and gradually drying out if the air humidity is insufficient.

A single orchid is capable of producing from 2 to 10 leaves. A new leaf can grow both after and at the same time as each flowering. Tetraspis leaves are broad enough, elongate-oval, with a not strongly pointed tip, with a central fold, folded at the beginning and straightened as they grow into flat leaf plates. When up to a maximum of 22 cm long, the leaves are no more than 6 cm wide, the base tapered. The green of Phalaenopsis tetraspis looks very elegant and graceful.

Phalaenopsis tetraspis - the most undemanding orchid
The flowering period of Phalaenopsis tetraspis can stretch, but the favorite time this orchid blooms is spring and summer. © Lourens Grobler

Fallenopsis tetraspis flowering

The flowering period of Phalaenopsis tetraspis can stretch, but this orchid's favorite flowering time is spring and summer.

The peduncles on this orchid develop very low, close to the base, between the old leaves. They are seldom straight, most often curving in a beautiful arc or bending.

In adult Phalaenopsis tetraspis, simple flower stalks may be replaced by branching ones. The height of the flower stalks in this species of phalaenopsis is usually limited to a modest 30 cm, but they blend surprisingly well with the leaves and the whole plant looks harmonious and compact.

The duration and tirelessness of flowering is the main virtue of this species. It is one of the revolving orchids or tirelessly blooming species. They open one after the other for a few months.

The flowers do not open as quickly as those of the cultivar phalaenopsis, but one after the other. The period from the opening of the first bud to the last flower in an inflorescence is often eight to nine weeks. Each flower on a Phalaenopsis tetraspis can last more than 10 days. Although the rate of blooming depends primarily on the temperature in which the orchid is kept. Each branch can hold from four to eight open flowers at the same time.

The flowers of Phalaenopsis tetraspis seem strikingly simple and elegant, glowing in the diffused light as if they were made of wax. They won't exceed 5 cm in diameter, but they still seem large. The oval-lanceolate, almost symmetrically arranged and identical petals and sepals create a simple, lovely, but somewhat unaccustomed star-shaped flower.

Tetraspis differs from other species of phalaenopsis in having strongly pointed "petals" at the ends. The lip is small, intricately twisted, triplet, with straight sides and a small "fluffy" outgrowth in the center, which looks like white fur due to the fine hairs.

Phalaenopsis tetraspis - the most undemanding orchid
Falenopsis tetraspis 'LFW1'. © passiflora

Color range of tetraspis

The side lobes of the lip are painted in watercolor shades of yellow and lilac, almost elusive colors.

Phalaenopsis tetraspis is considered one of the white-colored orchids. But also one of the most variable. The dark red, cinnabar, with a reddish-brick blurring hue appears spontaneously on different flowers of the plant, as if mutating.

Sometimes on the flowers of tetraspis red is absent at all, and sometimes it covers then a whole petal, then its part, then several petals - as if someone dropped paint on white silk.

The appearance or absence of color on tetraspis inflorescences depends on the flowering season, lighting, night temperature drop, care, and age of the orchid. And it is almost impossible to trace the interrelation and find certain regularities in it. Except that at higher humidity and lower temperatures the red spots are much stronger.

Boutons are always irregularly lettish, the real color and shape of phalaenopsis tetraspis shows only after the full opening of the flower. But if red color will appear in the flower, it is already visible in the bud.

Aroma of Phalaenopsis tetraspis

Falenopsis tetraspis, unlike the variety hybrids, surprises quite strong aroma. Alcoholic-cognac notes mixed with subtle plumes of lily of the valley perfume and a sweet aftertaste of ripe fruit can be caught in it.

To appreciate the smell of Phalaenopsis tetraspis, you have to wait until the 3rd-4th day after the start of blooming. The scent and its nuances change from the first bloom on one flower stalk to the last, usually intensifying herbaceous and vanilla notes (from flower to flower).

And the most pleasant surprise from this type of phalaenopsis is the scent is not nocturnal, but daytime. It only appears in sunny weather at the height of the day and delights until sunset.

For other scented orchids, read our articles Orchids with fruit and fine perfume scents and the 7 most scented spicy orchids.

Phalaenopsis tetraspis - the most undemanding orchid
Phalaenopsis tetraspis (Phalaenopsis tetraspis) C1. © Francis J Quesada Pallares

Phalaenopsis tetraspis varieties

Although tetraspis remains one of the most recognizable species of orchids, its clones, selection forms with improved color characteristics, are increasingly being sold.

The brightest white-red variations are typical of tetraploid, which has the prefix C1 in the name. This plant has almost supplanted genuine species tetraspices from catalogs.

A variety or clones of the plant are also known 'Red and White' with its almost entirely red flowers and red buds.

A more rare shade of color can boast a very expensive and rare variety 'Coffee' which is famous for its beige and coffee-brown 'replacement' red hue. The purple buds of this orchid are covered with dashes, surprising with unusual brown tones after blooming. Another coffee variety is also the most expensive phalaenopsis, LFW1.

The latest additions among tetraspies are 'Purple Blue' with fuchsia-purple petals and 'Blue Steal' with a greyish pale beige shade.

Phalaenopsis tetraspis - the most undemanding orchid
Falenopsis tetraspice 'Red and White'. © Jelles J

Conditions for growing Phalaenopsis tetraspis

This species orchid is rightly dubbed a Spartan. It can compete with many relatives in the status of an unpretentious and hardy plant. But on one condition - protection from cold and the right choice of lighting.

For the tetraspis to become a really growing almost by itself addition to the collection, the conditions for it must be chosen carefully and correctly. This is a special orchid that likes high temperatures and soft light.

Lighting and placement

Fallenopsis tetraspis needs bright lighting with diffuse soft light, but with sufficient intensity and length of daylight. This orchid blooms best with a daylight length of about 12-13 hours. With extra light in winter it can bloom relentlessly.

This type of phalaenopsis is the most sensitive to direct sun and too bright light. Even a few hours of evening or morning sun can react as stress.

The best place to place species phalaenopsis, and tetraspis in particular, remains a northern window sill. Western and southern window sills are not allowed, the plant can grow only at some distance from the window, but on the eastern window with a scattering screen this orchid develops quite well.

Falenopsis quadrupedal should not be put next to the variety phalaenopsis. If you are introducing it into an orchid or exotic collection, it is better to group the plant with other species orchids. In collections they look perfectly well, suitable for big orchid cases and florariums, all kinds of tropical collections. When selecting partners, it is worth ensuring that they have the same requirements for light, temperature and high humidity.

Temperature regime and ventilation

This is one of the most heat-loving and heat-resistant orchids. The ideal keeping regime for Phalaenopsis tetraspis is considered an elevated room temperature with a 5 degree drop at night.

This orchid blooms most lushly at about 30 degrees during the day and 25 degrees at night. But also normal room temperatures with a difference from 22-25 during the day to 16-18 at night for them will do.

Do not grow Phalaenopsis four-shielded in rooms where the temperature even at night in winter falls below 16 degrees (and better at all to prevent falling below 18 degrees).

This is one of orchids that like stable heat with daily variations and do not need any changes in the temperature regime at different stages of development. Even for the dormancy period, they do not change temperatures (in fact, their dormancy period is absent or amounts to an almost imperceptible 1-2 weeks).

Unlike many other orchids, Tetraspis is a closed-room culture. Because of its heat-loving nature and fear of too bright light, you should not take phalaenopsis tetraspices out onto balconies or into the garden. Airing for this orchid is carried out very carefully, it does not tolerate drafts and temperature changes during the day.

Phalaenopsis tetraspis - the most undemanding orchid
Falenopsis tetraspis 'Purple Blue'. © Diana

Home care of Phalaenopsis tetraspis

This is one of the easy to care for orchids. Sufficiently moisture-loving and not demanding of watering methods, Phalaenopsis tetraspis is almost indifferent to feedings and does not complicate the schedule of household chores. It can be grown by beginners - but it requires patience and a willingness to watch the plant.

Watering and Humidity

Unlike many other species of orchids, Phalaenopsis tetraspis can be content with more than submersion watering. Phalaenopsis tetraspis can be watered by the classical method, and when grown on blocks, by showering or micro-spraying.

Falaenopsis tetraspis outside the substrate develops best with hot showers, usually repeated twice a day in summer.

This phalaenopsis is more moisture loving than its variety descendants. When watering it is necessary to be guided by the color of the roots (more saturated green shade with soil drying out is replaced by almost colorless whitish) and accordingly the substrate drying out. Between waterings it should be dried well, but never let the soil dry out completely. During flowering do not reduce them strongly (tetraspices with excessive soil drying can drop flowers and with low moisture bloom much faster). And during the resting period, if the orchids stop growing or just "sit", make them as sparse as possible, drying out the soil more, but never completely drying out anyway.

Water quality is very important for this type of orchid. Phalaenopsis quadriceps prefers watering and spraying with distilled water. Watering is best done in the morning. The optimal water temperature is between 35 and 54 degrees. With any method of watering, remove excess water between the leaves, drying the plant after soaking.

Falenopsis tetraspis surprisingly well adapted to the average humidity when growing in pot form, but only if quality watering. The orchid retains its decorativeness and ability to bloom also at humidity values around 60%, usually growing well in any living space.

When growing on blocks, 60% is considered the minimum acceptable humidity values. Certainly, with any method of cultivation, recreating a near-natural environment with humidity around 80-90% will enhance both flowering and decorative leaves, increasing the number of flower stalks and flowers.

But if it is impossible to keep Phalaenopsis tetraspices in optimal conditions, they will not be too capricious in a more modest environment.

Methods of increasing humidity can be chosen at your discretion. Phalaenopsis tetraspis like spraying, but only in the morning. But it is much more effective to use industrial humidifiers and their home analogues.

Fertilizers and fertilizer composition

Fertilizers are not a necessary care item for Phalaenopsis tetraspis. This orchid blooms both with regular fertilization during the phase of active leaf growth and vegetation, and with just 1-2 fertilizers in the summer.

At the time of flowering, and if a dormant period is given, Phalaenopsis tetraspis should not be fertilized. But for the rest it is better to use the standard strategy - add fertilizers to the water in the standard dosage indicated by the manufacturer every third time you water.

For this orchid use only special fertilizers for orchids.

Phalaenopsis tetraspis - the most undemanding orchid
Fallenopsis tetraspis cannot be fertilized during blossoming, and if it is given a dormant period. © Paul

Trimming and shaping Phalaenopsis tetraspis

Trimming is contraindicated for this species orchid. Phalaenopsis tetraspis does not tolerate any injuries and even if the leaves dry out or turn yellow, it is not worth separating them before they are completely dry or show signs of serious rots and lesions.

But even in the latter case it is better to prune only slightly wider than the damaged leaf areas, together with a thin strip of healthy tissue and leaving at least some leaf plate cuttings if possible. Flower stems on tetraspices must not be cut back categorically until they are completely dry.

Transplanting, containers and substrate

Falenopsis transplanted every 2-3 years, with complete replacement of substrate or moss with a block. It is advisable to transplant in March.

Phalaenopsis quadrupedes can be grown both in special containers for orchids and on blocks. They prefer pine blocks and fixation with sphagnum and soft natural twine rather than wire. But they grow just as well in substrate. And acceptable cultivation options include both pots and special hanging baskets.

Changing the soil culture on the block and back regularly, orchids are easy to adapt, provided quality care. The main condition for the selection of containers is good air access to the roots and no risk of stagnation.

Selection of a suitable substrate when choosing the classical method of cultivation for Phalaenopsis quadriceps is not a difficult task. This orchid grows well in any special substrate for orchids, both containing several components and in pure bark. Additions of charcoal are desirable, as is the use of sphagnum. But in general, the most important thing for this orchid is quality bark.

Phalaenopsis is very well adapted. Even seedlings with no roots gradually build up a complete root system. Therefore, there is no need to fear transplanting. The roots are fragile, but with care they are rarely injured. When transplanting this orchid, you should carefully inspect the roots, removing any damaged areas.

After transplanting, the orchid is not watered, leaving it relatively dry until it adapts, but maintain high humidity to compensate for the lack of watering. When planting, a very high layer of sphagnum should be placed under the orchid on the block.

Phalaenopsis tetraspis - the most undemanding orchid
Falenopsis quadriceps can be grown in special containers for orchids as well as on blocks. © knert2010

Diseases, pests and problems in cultivation

This is one of the most resistant orchids. Rotting is the only threat it faces, with the exception of the risk of infections in severely neglected and diseased collections, where Phalaenopsis tetraspis can also "pass on" the problems of its neighbors.

Propagation of Phalaenopsis tetraspis

Although Phalaenopsis is so popular, already the difficulty of reproduction can be judged by its luxurious cultivars. Baby heads are rarely produced, and one has to have patience in order to wait for the offspring.

There is no other way to produce a new Phalaenopsis at home. Babies are formed only in heat and at very high air humidity.

Falenopsis daughter plants form more often not on stems, but on peduncles, when cute miniature rosettes of several leaves grow from dormant buds, which themselves air roots are not always released.

If there are signs of root development, then separation is done after they have grown to a length of 5 cm. If the roots are not formed for months, it's better to try to root the offspring whose development will be to the detriment of flowering on this peduncle.

Careful separation and rooting in moist substrate (riskier - in water with charcoal additives), allows to get a fast growing mini orchid, which will release a flower stalk in several years.