People often look at me strangely when I tell them I collect orchids. One pictures old ladies with pruning shears tending her roses and munching scones. But when you consider that that are 25,000 naturally occurring species of Orchids, with perhaps another 5000 species yet to be discovered, it's easy to see why someone would become obsessed. They are by far the largest plant family and grow everywhere in the world except Antarctica, and the largest orchid in the world grows to be over 20 metres. You could spend your life collecting orchids and never get them all.
Which is why, once you get bitten, you are forever hooked. For most orchid-philes, it starts with just one; a phalaeonopis, dendrobuim, or onicidum, and it goes from there. For me, it started with a purple phal I picked up at Home Depot for 20 bucks. I fell instantly in love with her wide blooms and deep purple color. A few weeks later I acquired my dendrobium and after some light reading and serious drooling, realized that I hadn't even started with my orchid obsession. There were thousands of species to be had, each more beautiful than the last, and I wasn't going to stop until I had a fair sampling of what there was to offer. And so, my orchid addiction was born.
My next acquisition was an Oncidium, known as a Sharry Baby. She is a hybrid and has the most delicious chocolate fragrance.She has enormous sprays of flowers and grows quite tall and makes a really spectacular display.
Next, Skip surprised me with my Odontoglossum. She is perhaps the most intrepid of my Orchids because she is in her second blooming cycle and shows no sign of stopping.
And finally, there is my Cymbidium. This is the largest and most spectacular of my orchids. She stands three feet tall and boasts a glorious display of blooms.
And that is just the Orchids I own. I still have yet to acquire a Cattaleya
Or a Christmas Orchid
And after that? The choices are endless. THE HISTORY
Orchids have long been a popular plant. Confucius acknowledged orchids saying, "the association with a superior person is like entering a hall of orchids". In 1595 a Chinese flower-arranging book "A Treatise of Vase Flowers" by Chang Ch'ien -te said orchids were in the top ranking of desirability. In Victorian England orchids were all the rage. To supply the ever increasing desire for more novel and beautiful orchids, many nurseries in the 1800s sent out orchid hunters to collect vast numbers of plants from the wild and ship them back to Europe in "Wardian cases" (miniature greenhouses). Unfortunately at least half of the plants perished on the voyage, making them all the more rare, collectable and expensive!
Orchid hunters of the Victorian era had to be intrepid explorers as they were away for years at a time living a life full of excitement and danger.
Orchids are exotic, beautiful, varied, and temper mental. Each orchid requires it's own care and attention, giving them a rather unfair reputation of being difficult to grow. They certainly are high maintenance. Some orchids love hot temps and low light and others like cooler temps with bright light.
New orchid species are still being discovered at a rate of between 200 to 300 per year. These are mainly from tropical regions, as new areas of forest are opened up by road building and development schemes. New species such as the bright purple Phragmipedium kovachii , discovered in 2002, caused a huge stir in the orchid world and even made headlines in the New York Times.
Specimens smuggled out of their native Peru were selling for $15,000 each, proving that "orchid mania" is still with us. Sadly we may now be seeing the last flush of new discoveries. Many may never be seen by human eyes before being lost forever!
So, if you are looking for a last minute Valentines Gift for that special someone, buy an Orchid and buy a lifetime of beauty. TRIVIA
Vanilla extract comes from an orchid. The most d vanilla in the world comes from Tahiti.
Charles Darwin wrote the first book on Orchids, entitled, Contrivances by which orchids are fertilized by insects. Many of his theories are still valid today.
The smallest orchid in the world will fit in your thumbnail and comes from South America.
Orchids come in every color except black
There are more than 130,000 artificially created, recognized hybrids of orchids, and there are thousands more that are undocumented.
Orchids are ancient plants and have been prized for 1000's of years. Confucius wrote about orchids 5000 years before Christ. The ancient Greeks believed they enhanced sexual prowess.