I bought my first Doritis on a whim. I was browsing an orchid website and ogling the variety. I came across a photo of a flower I thought looked really interesting. So I added a specimen to my shopping cart. It was much smaller than I expected. I’d made my decision based on the flower. I don’t know what I expected in a plant, but this wasn’t it. Not that there was anything wrong with it, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. It quickly threw up the long skinny spike you see here in this picture. I kept checking back to the picture on the web, wondering how this thin spike was going to support such large flowers as I’d seen in the online photo.
Then it flowered. The flowers are adorable, but they’re tiny! Cute, but tiny! Not at all what I was expecting! Well, that just goes to show you, you can’t judge a book by its cover… no, you can’t judge an orchid by its online photo. It was obviously a close-up shot. I was expecting a larger plant and much larger flowers.
My next surprise was that my cute little Doritis looked like it was going to die after it had flowered. It seemed to be struggling. So I started doing some research. What I found is that the Doritis is considered a terrestrial orchid. But for some reason, potting material recommended by the American Orchid Society is Sphagnum moss in warm and humid areas and bark in cooler and drier climates. The temperature range is higher than Phals, with a low of 65 degrees and days in the 85-90 region. Our winters in Kentucky are obviously lower, and unfortunately, our summers are always higher. We have 10-30 days over 90 in the summer, sometimes in the high 90s, and occasionally in the low 100s. So my Doritis has to stay indoors. Our indoor temperature is ideal. According to the AOS, the ideal humidity is 50%. And that sealed the deal. Our indoor humidity probably averages 50%. So that sealed the deal. We have a cooler and drier climate. So bark it is. The good news is, it seems to like to throw up new plants rather than growing in typically Phal fashion where it adds leaves at the top and loses them at the bottom. The original plant just kept losing leaves. The good news is, as you can see in this photo, there are now three healthy plants. The original plant has lost all its leaves, but it has a peculiar cluster of stubby, seemingly healthy arial roots still protruding from the main stem. So I guess the bark is a good choice and our indoor environment seems to be sufficient as well.
The Doritis can be crossed with the Phalaenopsis and is an intergeneric hybrid called Doritaenopsis. The resulting plant looks just like any Phal. But the Doritis component can stimulate more blooms from a previously flowered spike. So don’t cut the Phal spikes, especially if they are Doritos crosses, because they will often rebloom from the same spike. (Obviously if the spike dies, it’s not going to flower and should be cut off. But as long as it is alive – that is, green – keep it on the plant.) The Doritis influence also tends to throw off flowers that have sharper colors, last even longer than pure Phals, and often have multiple flower spikes. But, like the Doritis itself, the flowers will be smaller than with pure Phals.
To confuse things even further, the AOS says here that they closely related to Phalaenopsis and freely interbreed, creating Doritaenopsis hybrids, but then goes on to say that there are only 2 or 3 species and that, “this genus is now considered Phalaenopsis.” Since the Doritis is supposed to be “terrestrial” and the Phal is not, and since its growth habit seems to be entirely different – throwing off new plants rather than continuing to grow vertically – I’m not sure why it’s considered a Phal. But mine is not to reason why. I just try to keep my plants properly labeled and let the orchid experts sort out what those names mean!
Doritis is native to Central and Eastern Asia: Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Indo-China, Malaya and Sumatra.
WATER: Water regularly. But let the bark just all but dry between waterings. This fits well with my personal twice-weekly watering of my Dendrobium, Cattleya, Potanria, Phalaenopsis, orchids etc.
LIGHT: Requires good, bright light, but not direct sun.
MEDIA: While this is considered a terrestrial orchid, in warm humid climates the AOS recommends growing in Sphagnum moss. In cooler dryer climates, bark is recommended. Since household will typically represent the cooler drying climate, for Doritis kept indoors bark is probably the better choice.
TEMPERATURE RANGE: A higher low temperature than many orchids at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The upper range is also lower than many orchids can take, at 85-90 degrees.
CARE: Easy to care for if you understand the growth habit. It will have sections appear to die as others grow. But then, that’s not very different from Dendrobium orchids where portions lose their leaves and die back as other new stems grow.
BLOOMING: Develops delicate, sparse clumps of flowers once a year, typically in the summer.
REPOTTING: I repot annually after it blooms with regular coarse bark. According to the AOS, this orchid does not like to be “over potted,” which means it should be well proportioned for the pot. It won’t get very large, so it should never be put in an overly large pot.