Martin Motes

Phone: 305-282-7520 Email:

SpecialtiesVanda, Vanda breeding, Vanda culture, Renanthera, Paraphalaenopsis
FormatOnline and in-person
Provides plants for sale?Yes


The author, Martin R. Motes Ph.D., a Research Associate at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, has maintained a lifelong interest in the genus Vanda. He began as a boy in the late 50’s collecting the new hybrids which were coming out of Hawaii and Singapore and growing them in a shade house in Miami. While still in high school, he started to import Vanda species from India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand in substantial quantities in order to select the best flowered forms for hybridization and for propagation. His career in horticulture, like the careers of most American males of his generation, was disrupted by the war in Vietnam. Following a Ph.D., several years teaching college in Ohio, and a Fulbright lectureship in Kosovo, he was able to return to his beloved Florida and begin breeding with the remnants of his Vanda collection.
By the mid-70’s thanks to the pioneering work of Rapee Sagarik, the center of Vanda breeding had shifted to Thailand and the Thai breeders were producing large flowered Vanda hybrids in a wide range of colors. The author at the time realized that only a limited number of species had contributed to these hybrids and that other species had much to contribute aesthetically. He thus began a breeding program to introduce more Vanda species to modern bloodlines. To do so he continued to import large numbers of species plants from which superior parents could be selected. A decade on the initial results of this breeding program were published in the American Orchid Society Bulletin. His insights into both the hybrids and the species evolved into a book from Timber Press, Vandas, their History, Botany and Culture. By the time of the 18th World Orchid Conference in Dijon, the unique hybrids he had produced were striking enough to garner all of the medals given in the initial international judging and one V. Mary Motes was voted Best in Show and given a Gold Medal.
Shortly thereafter Dr. David Roberts of Kew, invited Motes to collaborate on a monograph of Vanda. David assembled loans of herbarium specimens from all the major herbariums except Vienna. David also assembled most of the relevant literature for us to discuss. He recruited Lauren Gardiner to do a molecular analysis of the genus from herbarium specimens as well as the living collection of Motes Orchids for her doctoral thesis. The results of her work were published in Renziana, to which Martin also made major contributions.
As one result of this research, Motes identified from a drawing by J.J. Smith, a Vanda species that had not been described and he journeyed to Bacan Island where he was able to locate a flower from a cultivated source which is the type specimen of V. alicae. This experience inspired him to travel to Ambon to unravel the mystery of Rumphius’ V. furva, which he discovered on the adjacent island of Ceram along with Rumphius’ other Vanda species, V. saxatilis. Motes’s explorations have continued, leading to the discovery in the South Moluccas of V. bartholomewii described in this volume.
Motes wrote the cultural notes on Aeridinae of Genera Orchidacearum VI, the definitive taxonomic work on the suborder.
Motes continues to breed hybrids and improve Vanda species. He continues his research of the genus as well.

Talks and Abstracts


Modern View of the Natural Genus Vanda

This program summarizes the research set forth in the monograph The Natural Genus Vanda. The sections of the genus are defined and illustrated. New species are shown and corrections to past cases of misidentification are presented. An accurate account of the genus as a whole is given.

Temperature Tolerant Low Light Vandas

Vanda sanderiana whose large full flowers which have set the standard for Vanda breeding unfortunately is a very large, slow growing, late maturing plant which requires very bright light and exceptionally warm temperatures. Other Vanda species have broader leaves which like Phalaenopsis are efficient light gatherers allowing them and their hybrids to mature rapidly, flowering early on vigorously rooting plants. Unlike the sea level dwelling V. sanderiana, many Vanda species are mountain plants which prefer intermediate temperatures. Breeding to the right species produces hybrids in a wide range of colors which are easily adapted to the lower light and cooler temperature of temperate greenhouses and windowsills. In subtropical conditions these hybrids grow vigorously and are well-suited to landscape situations.

Darwin On Orchids

In 1861 just 18 months after the publication of The Origin of Species Charles Darwin published The Various Contrivances by which Orchids are Fertilized. In the introduction he states that it is the book that he would have preferred to publish first as orchid flowers and their pollination provide the most convincing proof of evolution. This presentation illustrates Darwin’s argument that the intricate form of the orchid flower is driven by the evolutionary force of the survival of the fittest.

New Directions in Vanda Breeding

This program illustrates the diverse range of colorful, free flowering hybrids that are now being produced using seldom utilized species. Most of these plants display intense hybrid vigor and grow strongly and flower early, in some cases as soon as 28 months from seed on plants with barely 2 inches of stem.

The Genus Paraphalaenopsis and it’s Hybrids

This program illustrates the species of Paraphalaenopsis whose compact size makes them desirable subjects for greenhouses and windowsills with their large flowers often dwarfing the plants. The short stems of the species make them ideal for breeding to tall plants such as renantheras to produce compact, highly colorful hybrids.

The genus Renanthera and its Hybrids

This program presents the colorful species of Renanthera and the spectacular hybrids that can be produced from them when crossed to other genera.

Intergeneric Vandaceous Hybrids

This program illustrates the wide diversity of colorful hybrids that are being produced by crossing Various genera of Aeridinae with other genera. The resulting hybrids display a remarkable range of color, are often fragrant, and free flowering all year long.