Culture of Alba Orchids


Many orchid species have alba varieties. Do these require any different culture (especially light) from normal types? For instance, do alba paphiopedilums require less light and alba cattleyas more light? -Douglas Pulley


It is my understanding that populations of color variants, whether alba, coerulea, semi-alba, aquinii or whatever, are generally the result of population isolation and in-breeding. This would tend to make these populations exhibit some of the other traits that one might expect from in-breeding such as growing poorly, low fertility or other symptoms of weakness. This is not to say that all color variants are poor growers, of course. However, it does explain why there is probably not one common factor that would improve the culture of all alba types. Too, it does sei that there is plenty of anecdotal information about albas, such as the fact that Paphiopedilum bellatulum var. album was, until quite recently, considered one of the most difficult orchids to grow well. Cattleya guttata var. alba can be particularly sensitive to when it is repotted, as well as to the condition of its medium. If there was a generalization, it might be that the grower should simply be aware that albas, or other color variants, have the potential to be more finicky, and be accordingly observant of their behavior. -Ned Nash