The Mystique of the Exotic Orchid

Did you know that orchids are currently the second most popular potted flower according to recent sales? They are second only to poinsettias but maybe not for long as their popularity is growing daily.

In 2005 more than 18 million orchids were sold. According to the American Orchid Society, this increase further reflects the growth of the orchid's popularity.

Although commonly thought to be delicate, they are in fact simple to maintain and the blooms remain beautiful for months at a time.

Florida and California are the nation's leaders in orchid production, followed by Hawaii. Together, these three states account for over 90% of America's orchids. With more Than 25,000 identified species, this is no small task. Known as being a flower of beauty and distinction, orchids are unmistakably mysterious. They have been used in film, commercials, and are widely used as a backdrop in professional photography.

A simple orchid plant can light up a room in a way that few other flowers can. In fact, because they are so unique and mysterious, they make a terrific centerpiece sparking interest and conversation.

No plant family has as many different flowers as the orchid family. Orchids are known to grow in most every part of the world with the exception of Antarctica and the deserts.

Most African orchids are white, while Asian orchids are generally multicolored. Some orchids grow only one flower on each stem, while others can have more than a hundred blooms on a single spike.

When not in bloom, orchids very much resemble wild grasses or palms. They can be grouped according to the way they obtain nutrients. The majority of the species are found in tropical, moist broad leaf forests or mountains. These orchids anchor themselves to other plants, mostly trees. However, they are not considered a parasite.

The are some species that grow naturally on rocks or very rocky soil. These species get their nutrients from rain water, litter, humus, and even from their own dead tissue. Orchids are one of the most adaptable plant groups on earth. Some Australian orchids grow entirely underground.

Then there are the terrestrial orchids that are planted in the garden just like most other flowers.

If your area isn't conducive to growing orchids, you can grow then in a hothouse. Be patient, however. The seeds of an orchid are extremely tiny and under natural circumstances the seeds can only germinate with the use of a special fungi. It takes anywhere from one to ten years for an orchid seedling to mature.

The ideal place in the home for growing orchids is a bright window, free from drafts, where your plants receive indirect sunlight both morning and afternoon. A south window is best. In winter, give orchids all the light possible, the equivalent of a bright south-facing window. With extra large windows or especially intense sunlight, the light may be adjusted downward by moving plants 18 to 36 inches from the window. Orchids indoors require a greater light intensity because they receive light from only one direction, while in a greenhouse they receive light from many sides.

If an orchid viewing field trip is in order the National Orchid Garden in Singapore is considered by many to be among the finest collections of orchids under cultivation open to the public.

Orchids have now become a major market throughout the world. Buyers bid hundreds of dollars on new or improved hybrids. They are one of the most popular cut flowers on the market.

For your enjoyment and inspiration, here's a video of an orchid show in Thailand. Who wants to go on a field trip with me?