The Orchid Show and Sale was my first experience, so buying the Phalaenopsis was a first-time effort. The next time I go, I plan on having my knowledgeable friend help me choose a rare variety. But for a first-time future collector of orchids, I felt great about my choice.
Ever the curious investigator, I learned some basics about orchids and their interesting history at the Show. Some orchids were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1989. An estimated 30,000 kinds of wild orchids existed around the world, mostly in the tropics.
Researches and Breeders have created many more hybrids over the last few hundred years.Researches found out that orchid seeds only germinate when exposed to a special fungus that growers can replicate with a gelatinous mixture of sugar and nutrients.
Today, as a result of this and other discoveries, orchid culture is a huge-dollar activity with millions of customers.The showy orchid's reproductive cycle is a virtual mystery, due in part to the small, almost dust-size of the seeds, which require specific conditions for germination. Also, the moth that pollinates the plant, an agricultural pest, is being eliminated by insecticides. To alleviate these problems, researchers have been hand-pollinating plants in the wild.
Each orchid is different, with their flower shapes partly determined by the type of insect that pollinates them. This is one of the most attractive features of the orchid in that each flower is completely unique.
Many collectors aren’t charmed just by the orchid’s different shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are fascinated by the flower’s sex life, which often features the drama of desire and deception. Over millions of years, orchids have evolved remarkable ways of attracting, and sometimes entrapping, birds and insects.
I also attained a wealth of information about orchid care. I learned that orchids prefer warm rooms with high humidity. They are to be watered sparingly, and you must avoid pooling water where the leaves attach to the crown of the plant. Flowers are produced on a long, slender stalk and will open one at a time.
The blossoms will last several weeks before dropping off the stem. It is advisable to allow the stalk to yellow and wither before cutting it off at the plant's base.
The plants are to be fertilized once a month with a diluted fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or orchid mixture. When a new stem and flower buds appear, fertilization should be stopped, and the delicate blossoms will return again to be enjoyed. It is also interesting to note that more than 300 species of plants native to Illinois are listed as threatened or endangered.
Chicago Botanic Garden researchers — through genetic analysis, seed collecting, propagation, and reintroduction — are attempting to save some of the most threatened plants.
Causes Rachel Madorsky Supports
National Federation of Press Women and ISSSEEM.