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Preparing for the blooming of the Waling Waling Orchid

With the onset of the rainy season, especially the almost 2- week long continuous rain or “siyam-siyam”, most true orchid enthusiasts are very excited.  Who wouldn’t be? It is the climatic requirement for the flowering of one of the grandest and important Philippine orchid species, the Waling-Waling or the Vanda sanderiana.

The Waling-Waling can also be scientifically identified as Euanthe sanderiana due to its peculiar spurless labellum in its flower, as most Vanda has a spur.  This magnificent and beautiful orchid is now being used as a parent for the breeding of modern Vandaceous orchids, in order to acquire the flatness and roundness of standard cut-flower vanda orchids.

Historically, the plant was discovered by a European,  Mr. Cari Roebelin, in July 14, 1880.  He worked as a plant collector for Frederick Sander, who had the largest orchid plant nursery in Europe, during that time.  Heinrich G. Reichenbach described this orchid species in 1882, in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, and he gave it the name of Vanda sanderiana  in tribute to Mr. Sander.

Waling Waling Orchid

Waling Waling Orchid

The normal Waling-Waling has pale pink dorsal sepals and petals with some dark spotting toward the center, the lateral sepals are greenish brown with darker brown tessellations. However, the rare alba form has yellowish green lateral sepals instead of the usual greenish brown. The alba-form plant commands a higher price compared to the usual pinkish maroon Waling Waling.

Euanthe sanderiana is only known from the island of Mindanao, and populations have been recorded from the provinces of Davao, Cotabato, and Zamboanga. It grows as an epiphyte on the trunks and large branches of old-growth forest trees at elevations up to 500 meters. Due to the destruction of the original rainforest. It is highly doubtful if there are any wild populations remaining of this most wonderful Philippine orchid species.  Last February 4, 2013, the Philippine Senate made Euanthe sanderiana the “National Flower of the Philippines.” Along with the Sampaguita, The Waling-Waling is one of the most fitting tribute to one of the most wonderful Philippine orchid species.  This orchid is also known as the Queen of all Orchids.

Due to over collection, and the rapidly disappearing forests in the lowlands, Euanthe sanderiana is in extreme danger of going extinct in its natural habitats. We strongly advise orchid growing enthusiasts to obtain their plants from respectable orchid nurseries, which have grown their plants from seed. You will find that plants grown from seed will adapt more easily to cultivation.

The Waling Waling is actually easy to cultivate.  Here are some of its basic requirements.

 

Light.  Plants will require a semi-shaded area, and will benefit from a net house with 2-3 layers of shade net.  Plants are usually hung or established on wire, plastic baskets or on driftwoods.

Watering.  Waling-waling prefers and tolerates a little bit drier condition. Water the plant once a day or even less, like once every other day, and keep the surroundings and companion plants moist to provide high humidity.

Ventilation. Provide the plant with a slightly breezy location, but protected from very strong winds. Air movement will prevent the plant from rotting specially during the rainy season.

Potting Media & Potting Technique. Vanda sanderiana can be potted on plastic or hardwood baskets (hanging), tree fern slabs, or in drift woods, with their root well exposed and dangling down. They can also be grown in coarse brick and charcoal mixtures in pots, on benches, or hanging, in which case they can also be grown in hardwood baskets with little or no potting mixture. The roots are thick and will grow out of the pot or other container; hanging plants often develop a mass of pendent aerial roots. Such plants do well, but must be kept moist. This can mean misting the plants several times daily, since without potting material to retain moisture, the plants will dry out rather quickly. They will not tolerate wet roots, but do well when hung over wet rather than dry ground.

Fertilization. Use foliar fertilizer, and spray recommended dose once every week usually after watering, or more often as long as the dosage is reduced. A teaspoon of balanced orchid foliar fertilizer in a gallon of water and sprayed once a week, especially in the morning is sufficient.

Pest & Diseases Management.  Waling-waling plants are susceptible to sucking insects like mites, aphids and scales. Spray a dilute solution of Perla soap to protect the plant from insects or spray Lannate or Sevin insecticide if heavy infestation occurs. During rainy season, spray plants with dilute solution of Captan or Dithane fungicide to protect plants from rotting due to water-borne fungal diseases.

Propagation.  This plant can be propagated by top cutting. Sterilize all cutting instruments first by washing with soap and water and squabbling with isopropyl alcohol before using to prevent transfer of viruses. Top-cuts are repotted on plastic or wooden baskets or clay pots with charcoal. Seal wounds with fungicide paste and do not water top cuttings for 3 days to prevent rotting. Water afterwards to induce establishment of roots. New shoots will usually sprout from the severed stem. Fertilize with foliar fertilizer to make plants healthy. It can also be propagated by seeds.

 

Flowering season is August-September, and with this, flowers can be pollinated in order to produce fruit capsules with seeds which will usually be ready for harvest at about 5 months after pollination. Seeds from fruit capsules can be sown inside the laboratory, in sterile artificial nutrient media, using embryo culture techniques. Selected forms can also be micropropagated using meristem culture or culture of young inflorescence.

September and October is the flowering season of the Vanda sanderiana, and with this, the Philippine Orchid Society regularly schedule its Midyear Orchid Show during this time, to celebrate the blooming of this unique orchid.  Aside from the POS, Davao also has its Kadayawan festival to celebrate the same.

In celebration of its 70th anniversary this coming Aug. 26 to Sept. 5  2016  the POS will be showing off the lovely blooms of the Queen of all Orchids in its Mid-year Orchid and Garden Show dubbed as “Building Bridges Through Orchids”.

This show, which is being held in cooperation with the Quezon City government, will be held at the Flower Garden of the Quezon Memorial Circle, Elliptical road in Quezon City. Together with the sought after waling-waling, the show will feature the best orchid collections of the country’s best orchid growers set in exquisite landscapes. Lectures on orchid and plant culture will be held daily for free and a plant bazaar selling orchids, ornamentals, bonsai, fertilizers, pots, and many more at farm gate prices will be on site.

Free daily lectures at 2 p.m., topics follows: Aug. 26-Journey of a Hobbyist, to livelihood, to entrepreneurship, and to commercial by Sally U. Leuenberger; Aug. 27-Orchids use in Ikebana design by Sensei Ryugetsu Nakagawa; Aug. 28-Tray Landscaping by Serapion Metilla, Aug. 29-Care of Orchids from flasks and community pots by Norberto R. Bautista; Aug. 30-An introduction to carnivorous plants by Dr. Kurt Tan, Aug.  31-Tips for caring cacti & succulents by Lino Rom; Sept. 1-General Orchid Care by Jun Golamco; Sept. 2- Seed germination method for edible landscape plants & Creative ideas on green-wall & vertical landscaping by Marian Carandang and Herlo Atole of Allied Botanical Corp.; Sept. 3-Collecting Unusual Orchids by Vangie Go; Sept. 4-Growing Cattleya Orchids by Atty. Hernando B. Perez; Sept. 5-Growing exotic fruit trees in containers as a business or hobby by Zac Sarian.

 

For inquiries, you may contact the Philippine Orchid Society at +63 957 3524 or +63 917848 5468 or email at philorchidsociety@gmail.com