With very few exceptions, P. equestris is the key plant behind all multiflora breeding. These few exceptions account for less than one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of all multifloras. Two well known lines of breeding do not contain P. equestris. One is the result of P. Micro Nova (maculata x parishii) breeding. There are about 20 registered hybrids with P. Micro Nova, including its best-known offspring, P. Mini Mark. The other line of breeding was developed mainly by H.P. Norton based upon breeding between Dor. pulcherrima and non-standard phalaenopsis. This line has produced many interesting, high quality grexes. Both of these lines of breeding initially created a great deal of excitement because both seemed to open up new avenues. However, it is now clear that, due to serious fertility problems in both of these lines resulting generally in little if any seed, both of these roads are at best very narrow, if not complete dead ends.
Without doubt, the most influential plant in the history of multiflora breeding is the species, Phal. equestris. There are almost 400 first-generation hybrids registered with P. equestris, over half of which have been registered since 1990. Prior to 1950, there were only about 20 P. equestris hybrids registered, many of them primary hybrids. People continued making these hybrids on a slow but steady basis until 1989 when 18 P. equestris hybrids were registered. This was the first time that more than 10 P. equestris hybrids were registered in one year.
Let us examine P. equestris. There are at least two distinct color forms of P. equestris. The “common” form (often referred to as var. rosea) is a white flower with a pink blush centrally and a red lip with sepals that are reflexed back. The other form (often referred to as var. leucaspis) is solid to near-solid pink (often with a white picotee). It is flatter than the rosea form and somewhat smaller. This form was not well distributed until fairly recently. In the ’90s, two plants of this variety received FCCs and both went on to receive the Hager Phalaenopsis Award.