Family: Orchidaceae

It is possible that this orchid's name means 'children of the air' and that it was adopted because of the epiphytic nature of the plant. Found throughout tropical Asia, this genus comprises around 50 species, few of which have been cultivated. The plants have upright stems but the sprays of flowers are usually pendulous. Most are pleasantly scented. Thick roots appear along the stems and these roots should not be forced into pots. The leaves are strap-shaped or tapering.


A. crassifolia has a short stem which bears up to ten mauve flowers.

A. crispa has long, drooping, white flowers, with rose lips.

A. flabellata, a handsome species from northern Thailand, does well in glasshouses. Compared with the other species, it is quite short, with closely spaced leaves about 15 cm (6 in) long. The inflorescence is about 25 cm (10 in) long, with 10 to 15 flowers. The petals and sepals are yellowish with brown blotches. The tip is fringed with purple markings on a white background, and the throat is yellow.

A. odorata is grown in many countries in Southeast Asia. Owing to its variable appearance, this species has been given different names. Generally, it has long stems to 1.5 m (5 ft), with 25 cm (10 in) long leaves. The inflorescences are 40 cm (16 in) long and drooping, and bear up to 30 perfumed flowers. The sepals and petals are white, marked with lavender, and the mid-lobe dark purple.


Outside tropical regions aerides are grown in an intermediate to warm greenhouse or conservatory with high humidity and good, filtered light. Grow in a compost formulated for epiphytic orchids, in hanging orchid baskets, or mount the plants on pieces of bark. Water sparingly in winter, freely in the growing season. Relatively easy to grow in tropical regions, they do best in an orchid house tied to a piece of hardwood. They need plenty of light and air. When all roots are exposed to the air, frequent misting several times a day is advisable. Full morning sun or late afternoon sun is desirable, with some shading during the heat of the day in summer. However, these plants can be hardened to withstand full sun all day. Healthy plants will have brown or green root tips, 2 cm (1 in) or more in length, which may turn gray around the end of autumn, heralding the arrival of a resting season when extra watering and fertilizing should cease until the roots begin to grow again. Propagate from tip cuttings, 30-60 cm (12 -24 in) long. Cut the stem about 10 cm (4 in) under a pair of roots. Place the cuttings in the shade and water frequently, with a fine mist, until new root growth begins. Then pot or tie to boards. The remaining part of the plant will generally throw a side shoot which can be grown on without disturbance.


Warm and humid. Grown under glass except in the tropics.

Aeonium      Aeschynanthus