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Red Orchids and Valentine's Day

Orchids are a large group of plants, producing flowers in nearly every colour. Flowers have been used since centuries for different purposes. The colour of a flower is used to portray different emotions like white flowers symbolises peace, beauty, innocence. Red flowers, especially roses are in demand for Valentine’s Day, as red colour conveys the feeling of love and passion. Orchids producing red coloured flowers are equally good (I would say, better) than roses. This year try growing some red orchids. Below is a small list of orchids which bear flowers in different hues of red:

1. Red Vanda or Renanthera imshootiana, is an endangered orchid which produces long-lasting blood red flowers. It is a hardy epiphytic orchid which can tolerate bright sunlight and a wide range of temperatures.
2. Ascocenda ratchaburi bears deep red flowers with yellow coloured lip. These can be grown in hanging containers, in bright light but should be kept in warm humid surroundings.
3. Red Miltonia orchids not only produce beautiful flowers but along with unique shape these flowers are wonderfully scented. These can be grown in pots or can be hung in baskets, and require diffuse sunlight with high humidity. Miltonias can tolerate low temperatures to some extent, but remember to increase the humidity when temperatures rises.
4. Red coloured Disa orchids are also quite beautiful. This orchid has specific needs and will not survive if those are not provided. Best potting medium is coarse silica sand. Disa requires high temperatures and humidity for better growth.
5. Phragmipedium dalessandroi is a terrestrial orchid producing beautiful reddish orange flowers. These orchids can grow in a wide range of temperatures from warm to cool, with one important requirement, that is, its affinity to wet conditions. So don’t let it dry out completely. Light should be diffuse. Bright sunlight can be supplied for a short span.
6. Rhynchostylis gigantea comes in different varieties, each of which produce flowers with varying colours from white to deep magenta. Being a tropical epiphyte it likes bright sunlight, which is mostly reflected through the leaves. Temperature tolerance ranges from hot to cool, with higher humidity at higher temperatures.

There are numerous natural as well as man-made hybrids which produce flowers in different shades of red. Hybrids are easier to care than the naturally occurring orchids. Some of the hybrids are listed below:

1. Cattleya aurantiaca and its natural hybrid (Cattleya guatamalensis) with C. skinneri both produce flowers in a warm shade of red.
2. Aranthera Mohd Haneef, a hybrid has bright red flowers.
3. Renantanda hybrids (Renanthera x Vanda) have red/orange flowers
4. Sophrolaeliocattleya, also called as ‘Jewel box orchid’, had beautiful red flowers with yellow centre.
5. A cultivar of Howeara genus, called Lava Burst’ has a combination of red and orange or red and yellow flowers.
6. Hybrid orchid named Phalaenopsis Hazel Lee has chill red flowered.
7. Red burgundy flowers of Rhyncholaeliocattleya, king of Taiwan.
8. Cultivar called ‘Lake View’ (hybrid of Brassia, Laelio, Cattleya Dennis Kone ‘Lake View’) has deep red flowers with white centre.

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