Aerangis Orchids

Aerangis Orchids

aerangis-orchids

Fast Facts Aerangis Orchids

Botanical Name: Aerangis (air-ANG-giss)
Abbreviation in horticulture: Aergs.
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Vandeae
Subtribe: Aerangidinae
Number of recognized species: 51 unique orchid species, 2 natural hybrids, 4 orchid varieties
Type species: Aerangis flabellifolia
Origin/Distribution: Africa, including Madagascar and the Comoros Islands
Growing classification: Epiphytic orchids
Blooming season: Depending on the origin, mostly spring to fall
Flower colors: White and yellow
Skill level: Recommended for beginner level orchid growers
Must-try introductory orchids species: Aerangis citrata, Aerangis articulata, and Aerangis somalensis

The Origin of Aerangis Orchids

The Aerangis orchid genus hails from the central and western regions of Africa (such as Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon) and the Austronesian islands in the Indian Ocean (Madagascar and Comoros). In a natural setting, this exotic orchid can be found thriving in the continent’s tropical rainforests and woodlands. 

The etymology of the name of this genus, Aerangis, was derived from the Greek words “aer” and “angos,” which literally translates to air and vessel. Apparently, this is a reference to the signature spur that can be spotted on the base of the labellum or lips of these orchids. 

Aerangis orchids were originally a part of the Angraecum genus. In 1865, however, German orchidologist Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach identified a distinction between the two and brought forth a new orchid genus. Eventually, another German botanist, Rudolf Schlechter, re-classified a number of Angraecum orchids species from Madagascar and African Angraecoids to Aerangis, boosting its total number. 

Aerangis Orchid Species

According to the American Orchid Society, there are 51 species, 2 natural hybrids, and 4 varieties recognized by the Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families as of August 2012.  

Here are some well-known species from the Aerangis orchid genus.

  • Aergs. articulata
  • Aergs. biloba
  • Aergs. citrata
  • Aergs. fastuosa
  • Aergs. flabellifolia
  • Aergs. mystacidii
  • Aergs. somasticta

When Do Aerangis Orchids Flower?

Aerangis orchids are epiphytic in nature but there are some that do well as terrestrial orchids. The orchid plants in this genus range from miniature orchids with flowers only 2 centimeters across in size to much larger blooming orchid varieties. Depending on the species, Aerangis orchids can bloom in spring, summer, and even autumn season. They produce cascades of tiny but showy orchid flowers in pure white or sweet lemon color. The long-spurred orchid blooms contain nectar, a certified pollinator magnet (birds and bees).

Aerangis orchid flowers are charming because they resemble a stunning spray of birds or stars due to their shape when you look at them more closely. Aside from its long-lasting quality, Aerangis flowers are also popular among orchid lovers because of the captivating scent that it gives off at night. Beyond the gorgeous orchid flowers, Aerangis orchids also have an attractive fan of leaves that are mostly evergreen.

How to Grow Aerangis Orchids

Aerangis orchids may seem exotic but these flowering plants can be truly forgiving for the novice orchid grower. They are typically grown in hanging baskets but they can also be grown terrestrially on cork or a tree fern slab. Originating from Africa, Aerangis are true tropical orchids that thrive best in warm, humid environments. The key to successfully grow Aerangis orchids is to simulate or mimic tropical conditions.

Follow these practical orchid care tips for your Aerangis.

  • Like Phalaenopsis orchids, place your Aerangis orchids where it can get plenty of indirect natural light regularly and for the most part of the day. 
  • Keep your Aerangis orchids well hydrated, especially during hot summer months when potting material can dry up faster than usual. 
  • Space out your watering session with one or two days to allow the potting material to dry a bit and avoid fungal infection or aphids infestation. 
  • Fertilizer is only required during the growing season. The AOS recommends diluting the solution in water to weaken the strength of your fertilizer. Apply after watering the plant once a week.


References:

American Orchid Society
Jay’s Internet Encyclopedia of Orchids
Miniature Orchids and How to Grow Them, Rebecca Tyson Northen, April 1996

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