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BONNIE’S GARDEN – Orchids

By Bonnie Pega
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This Tuesday, April 16th, is National Orchid Day. In honor of National Orchid Day, here are some interesting facts about these beautiful and exotic flowers.

  1. Orchids are the single largest family of blooming plants in the world with over 25,000 naturally occurring species and well over a hundred thousand man-made hybrids. Orchids are also the most highly evolved family of blooming plants. They are native to every continent in the world with the exception of Antarctica.
  2. Orchids first became popular in Europe when a young horticulturist named William Cattley was intrigued by strange bulbous stems he found used as packing material in a shipment of tropical plants from Brazil. He potted the stems up and in the fall of that year, the plant bloomed with beautiful large purple flowers. This orchid was named Cattleya after William Cattley, Labiata after the ruffled labellum or “lip” of the flower, Autumnalis after the season in which it bloomed. Unfortunately, this started a mania for orchid collecting from which some tropical forested areas have never recovered. You see, the favorite method for collected these tree-dwelling plants was to cut the tree down just to pluck the plants from it.
  3. Some people believe that orchids are parasitic—like mistletoe is.  Orchids are NOT parasites—most are epiphytes—“epi” from the Greek word for upon and “phyton” from the Greek word for plant.  Epiphytes are plants that live on other plants but do not send roots down into the plant and take nutrients away, as does a true parasite. Instead, they let their roots “hold” onto a tree branch like fingers, so the orchids can live up in the treetops where the light and air circulation is better. Another myth about orchids is that some species are carnivorous.  At the International Orchid Exposition in London in the 1930’s, it’s said a woman marched up to an exhibitor and demanded to see the man-eating orchid.  The quick-thinking exhibitor replied, “I’m sorry, Madam, he’s gone to lunch.”
  4. Many people believe that orchids are picky, finicky or hard-to-grow. Growing orchids is just like growing any other plant successfully—it’s a matter of finding out the requirements and meeting them.  Some orchids may have light and/or temperature requirements that may be difficult for you to meet, but then a citrus tree or ficus tree may be difficult for you if you don’t have that sunny spot they crave.

We always carry a great selection of orchids. Come by and let us help you select the perfect one for you.

4 thoughts on “BONNIE’S GARDEN – Orchids

  1. While orchids do need very good drainage, they do not need special pots with air holes in the sides. As a matter of fact, a basic inexpensive terra cotta (clay) pot is just perfect–clay is porous, so allows great air circulation. What is important is to use a special orchid potting medium that is loose and airy. When in doubt, you can always bring it in to me and I’ll repot it for you.

  2. Bonnie-
    I have three orchids and they are doing well. I think two need to be re-potted but not sure if that is so nor do I know how to properly do it. Could you help?
    Thank you,
    Mary Margaret Ryan

  3. I can repot them for you. It’s a very small labor charge–that includes the potting medium. The only additional charge would be a new pot. Orchids need to be repotted every year or two–when the potting medium breaks down and begins to pack around the roots. If you have a lot of roots “climbing” out of the pot, it’s probably because the old potting medium has broken down.

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