Jörg Frehsonke

Phalaenopsis production in Europe, species and modern hybrids

For the last five years we have seen a tremendous growth in the Phalaenopsis pot plant production, with an annual increase between 15 and 30%, what represents for 2008 nearly 200 Million plants, most of them coming from Holland and Germany
This huge production causes a very high demand for young plants, most from mericlone propagation. As imports from Taiwan only play a minor role, some large laboratories have been established in Europe. For example Fritz Hark of Lippstadt in Germany has more than 650 employees working in two shifts on 350 clean benches, which hold more than 50% of the entire taiwanese laboratory capacity. Other important companies are Floricultura and Anthura, in Holland, and Steriplant, in Germany. They all provide young plant material to large this production, mostly in Holland, and the size of these greenhouses are in most cases between 3 and 8 hectares.
The flowering plants are distributed all over Europe from Moscow to Lisboa and from Scandinavia to Sicily by truck. However about 30% of the production is consumed in Germany As the market requires about 40% of white flowers, with local differences, the remaining 60% are showing a very high diversity in colour, plants and sizes, which is demonstrated in many pictures. Besides it interesting to point out that, even tough the white Phalaenopsis seems to have reached to perfection, the breeders still try to improve even this group.
Over the last two decades we could see an explosion in new colour patterns, like the beautiful and unusual harlequin types with spots, dots or blotches in many shades. The same goes for the yellow flowers, since Phalaenopsis venosa entered the breeding scene to produce really good, non fading and fertile offspring. For these treats breeders in the 70s and 80s around the world would have killed for!
However we should never forget that even the biggest and most impressive hybrids result from careful breeding and selection over many generations, tracing back to about 40 different species.
Some influenced the various breeding programs around the world more than other, but every species itself is a natures masterpiece. Almost all Phalaenopsis species are endangered in their natural habitats due to deforestation and over collection. Therefore we should try to search for the propagation of these plants in order to provide to future generations the same genetic diversity that today we can find and use in our breeding programs.