Orchid Plants in Thailand

The warm tropical climate of Thailand supports a diverse range of plant life. One of the most successful families of plants is the the orchid family. In Thailand, orchids have spread to the tops of trees, forest floors and into the grasslands. These rare exotics from the Thai wild are now commonly grown in greenhouses and windowsills around the world.

Lady Slipper

One of the many different types of lady slipper orchids that is native to Thailand is Paphiopedilum sukhakulii. According to Jason Chang of New York University, it was discovered in a collection of P. callosum plants that came from northern Thailand in 1965. It was later discovered in the wild in the Phu Luang area of Thailand growing on the forest floor, usually near streams at an elevation of 800 to 3,000 feet. The plant is fan shaped with dark green mottled leaves that grow to 10 inches long. The flower has a dark maroon colored lip, a striped dorsal sepal, and green petals heavily covered with black hairy warts. The warts have made P. sukhakulii an important parent in many popular hybrids, according to AnTec Laboratory. It likes warm temperatures, above 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night with a 10 to 15 degree increase in the day similar to climactic conditions of northern Thailand. The potting medium should hold some moisture but be free draining and remain evenly moist but not wet to mimic the humus and leaf litter it grows in. Light levels can be low to medium. An east or west window exposure works well; the lady slipper cannot tolerate full sun. They naturally would be shaded by the dense tree canopy.

Blue Vanda

The blue vanda orchid (scientific name Vanda coerulea) is native to higher elevations of northern Thailand, around Chiang Mai, at an altitude of 3,300 to 4,600 feet. It grows directly on the trunks and branches of stunted trees without any soil in open areas, according to ScienceAsia.org. Thailand's humid tropical air and frequent rain provide abundant moisture for the plant. The blue vanda is known for it's bright blue flowers with white speckles. It likes warm temperatures above 55 degrees F at night and at least 10 degrees warmer during the day. In its natural habitat just under the tree canopy, it receives very bright dappled sunlight. In cultivation it should receive a little shade, according to mauritius-orchids.com. It is best grown in an orchid basket without any potting medium. Water the plant only when it almost dries out. Humidity levels should be high, above 60 percent.

Beautiful Doritis

Beautiful doritis (scientific name Doritis pulcherrima) is a terrestrial growing orchid that grows in the grasslands of Thailand. It is very similar to the moth orchid (scientific name Phalaenopsis) and has been used extensively to hybridize, according to Ingrid Schmidt-Ostrander of the Canadian Orchid Congress. Doritis has flat oval leaves that stay low to the ground and an upright 2-foot flower spike with flowers up to 21 inches wide. The flowers are highly variable and range in color from red to white and yellow. One variety, "chumpornensis," from the province of Chumporn, is multicolored with a yellow lip and petals and white sepals. Doritis in cultivation need bright diffused light such as an east window. Plants do well with watering and a potting medium that is similar to Paphiopedilum sukhakulii.

Keywords: paphiopedilum sukhakulii, vanda coerulea, doritis pulcherrima

About this Author

Brian Albert has been in the publishing industry since 1999. He is an expert in horticulture, with a focus on aquatics and tropical plants like orchids. He has successfully run an aquatic plant business for the last five years. Albert's writing experience includes the Greater Portland Aquarium Society newsletter and politics coverage for a variety of online journals.