Orchids Grow In Many Places
It is well known in orchid circles that there are between 20,000 and 25,000
different species of orchid growing world wide. This amounts to about ten
percent of all plants and represents over four times the number of mammal
Orchids grow all over the world on every continent except Antarctica.
They grow in most climates, from tropical through sub-tropical to
Mediterranean and temperate. There are even orchids that grow within The
They can grow near the shoreline and up to altitudes of more than 13,000
feet. (4,000 meters) In bogs and marshes, sand dunes and moorland, woodland,
grassland, in poor land or rich.
They are great colonisers of places where other plants can’t grow like
cliff-faces, rocks, tree-trunks and the branches of other types of shrubby
plants. There are even orchids that grow as epiphytes on large cacti growing
in the deserts of Peru.
A comparatively recent discovery has been orchids growing underground as
parasites on the roots of shrubs in Australia.
These plants are buried and never see the light of day except the flowers
that show above the surface.
It is important when we talk about orchids that we know which species we are
talking about because they all have their own special habitat and growing
Orchids Grow Their Own Soil?
To enable certain orchids to grow on rocks (lithophytic) or trees and other
plants (epiphytic) they need a way of collecting water for future use,
whilst it is available.
To do this they grow a thick layer of soft spongy cells on the outside of
the root. This cell layer soaks up rain and dew whilst it is available. This
water can then be used by the plant over an extended period.
Just as if it were growing it’s own soil or growing media.
Large And Small.
The heaviest known orchid is Grammatophyllum speciosum from tropical Asia.
It has huge cylindrical pseudobulbs that can be up to 10 feet tall. (3
meters) These grow in huge clumps that can weigh up to a ton. It is said
that a single plant can produce up to 10,000 flowers.
The tallest or longest orchid is Vanilla planifolia, the very same plant
that we get vanilla pods from for flavouring food.
The orchid with the largest leaves is said to be Bulbophyllum fletcherii.
This huge plant can have leaves up to 6 feet long. (1.8 meters)
The orchid with the largest flower is perhaps Paphiopedilum sanderianum, it
has long, tapering, pendant petals up to 3 feet long. (90 centimetres)
The smallest orchid plant is native to Australia and is called Oncophyllum
globulifolia. It has tiny pseudobulbs the size of a pinhead, each has a tiny
thread-like leaf at it’s apex. The tiny flowers are about one millimetre
Pollen In Parcels.
Orchid pollen is all stuck together in clumps or parcels these are called
the pollinia and when the right insect visits an orchid flower the whole
mass of pollen sticks to the insect and is transported to the next bloom.
For this reason orchid are ideal for people who suffer from hay fever as
there is no way that the pollen can float about in the atmosphere.
The Smallest Seeds.
Orchid seed is the smallest of any in the whole plant kingdom. One orchid
plant can often produce many millions of seed. However these seed have no
endosperm or food store as other plants would. Because of this, in nature,
these seed need the help of friendly fungi to germinate and grow.
Hundred thousand Pound Orchid?
In the nineteenth century orchids were new and unknown plants.
In a world where keeping up with the Jones’s was the pass-time of the
aristocracy, huge prices where paid for the latest imports.
The largest amount ever recorded as having been paid was in England in
the year 1890 when £1500 was paid for a single plant.
This would be equivalent of about £100,000 in today money.
How Long Do Orchids Flower For?
One of the great advantages of Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) is their ability
produce flowers over a period of many months or even sometimes years.
However not all orchids are the same. The individual flowers of the small
growing Dendrobium cuthbertsonii may last up to six months.. Compare this
with the mass of flowers that is displayed by Dendrobium crumenatum, (Pigeon
Orchid) these may only last for a day.
All orchids are interesting but if you are growing for flower-power alone
check you are getting the appropriate variety.
Orchids Make Great Houseplants
There are many varieties of orchid that make splendid houseplants. Most
people know about the long periods of flower that we get from Phalaenopsis.
However there are many other varieties that can be just as rewarding to grow
if not quite so free flowering.
Perhaps some of them won’t have such long flowering periods but types
such as the Cambrias (Oncidium Alliance), Cattleyas, Dendrobiums,
Paphiopedilums (Slipper Orchids) and Zygopetalums are sure to give great
If you are a little more adventurous then there are thousands of different
species orchids (Botanicals) plus many unusual crosses and hybrids, a good
percentage of which can be grown in the house without problems.
Whatever orchids you decide to grow I am sure that you will find enjoyment,
interest, and satisfaction. There is something for everyone.