Phalaenopsis are epiphytic and monopodial orchid plants that grow in nature hanging from trees in tropical forests. The leaves of the trees protect them from direct sunlight. These orchids have no pseudobulbs, so they store nutrients and water in their leaves and roots. The ideal climate for Phalaenopsis orchids is very warm and very humid. Phalaenopsis is one of the most adapted orchids to live at home, one of the easiest to care for and one of the most popular in the world. Well-kept plants will bloom year after year, although the main season is from late winter to spring.
All these plants are members of the same subtribe of the Orchidaceae family, the Laelinae, that comprises over 800 species in 43 genera. A salient feature is the ease with which many of the genera can be crossed, one with another, resulting in a proliferation of intergeneric names. Although these hybrids tend to predominate in orchid collections, many of the species are grown for their own beauty. Cattleya Alliance are likely the most popular orchids. There is a vast diversity in sizes and shapes, ranging from tiny Constantia cipoensis to the enormous Schomburgkia tibicinis. Within Cattleya, plants range from the 6 inch tall Cattleya luteola to Cattleya guttata, which can be more than 5 feet tall when in flower. While greenhouse conditions suit cattleyas best, development of smaller growing hybrids permits the windowsill hobbyist to indulge in these rewarding orchids. The compact hybrids, in many cases, have the advantage of a species background that renders them more tolerant of cooler and/or warmer conditions than the more traditional types. The Cattleya Alliance embraces many popular orchids, which require care similar to cattleyas. All of these orchids are native to the New World Tropics and have contributed to the development of numerous hybrids and intergeneric hybrids.