Life Cycle of the Orchid
Introduction to Orchids
Contrary to popular belief, orchids are astonishingly adaptable and not nearly as difficult to grow as most people think, so if you have always had a desire to grow these enchanting indoor plants, throw caution to the winds and have a go. There is a huge range of splendid orchids to choose from, many of which will flourish on your windowsill just as well as African violets and other houseplants. Also, do not forget that, thanks to the ingenuity of breeders in raising new varieties, orchids are now less expensive than ever before and the great variety of shapes and colours can hardly fail to satisfy every wish and whim.
The orchid section of this website tells you about the important points of . Using clear, detailed instructions which are easy to follow even for a beginner, you will find what to look for when purchasing orchids, what range of temperatures orchids demand and how you can coax orchids to flourish and produce blooms on a windowsill with the minimum of fuss or expenditure. The exotic flower is, of course, the main aim of successful orchid care and, to this end, you will find a range of useful advice and handy tips which will ensure that your orchids continue to flower every year. This includes advice about the optimum amount of light, humidity, water and nutrients and being aware of the right moment for the plants’ dormant seasons. To make things even easier and to help you to develop a flair for , this orchid section of the website also includes a section of individual plant descriptions with detailed instructions for care and advice on species and hybrids that are particularly suited to growing indoors.
Even with the best care, however, pests and diseases cannot be avoided all the time, so a section has been included to deal with this subject and to cover all the important points of prevention, identification and control of problems. Biological methods are also discussed. Finally, if you develop orchid-growing fever to the extent that you want to begin propagating your own orchids, you will find detailed instructions on how to do this too.
All about orchids
In popular literature, orchids have always been seen as symbols of love, seeming to represent the qualities of both femme fatale and seducer, and have also attracted the interest of scent makers over many centuries. There can hardly be another plant that is as changeable and adaptable as the orchid which belongs to one of the youngest families of plants in the botanical classification system.
The orchid family
Orchids belong among the monocotyledon plants, along with similar “young” plants such as palms, bananas or Araceae, although orchids, produce more fully developed flowers than these other plants. The orchid family, known to botany as, includes about 750 genera, 10,000 to 30,000 species and more than 70,000 hybrids or cultivars. This means that orchids represent almost 10 per cent of all flowering plants. Exactly how many species there are is impossible to establish, even for botanists, as these very adaptable plants frequently cross-breed in the wild.
Where do orchids live in the wild?
With the exception of polar and desert regions, orchids are found growing wild in all climatic regions of the world. They can be found in the Mongolian tundra and even in Greenland in the vicinity of hot springs. Approximately 60 species are native to central Europe and about 150 species occur in North America. Several species grow in Mexico, Central America and especially South America which is an orchid paradise. However, the great majority of orchids are resident in Asia which is considered to be their original home. In South America, they can be encountered at all levels of vegetation: in tropical rainforest (up to 1,000 m / 3,200 ft); in tropical mountain forests (1,000-2,000 m / 3,200-6,400 ft); in cool, extremely humid cloud forests (2,000-3,000 m / 6,400-9,800 ft); and in rocky, coastal deserts facing the ocean, where a few species even grow at levels of 4,000 m / 13,100 ft.
The curious life cycle of the orchid
Orchid growth is rather different from what we are accustomed to see in most garden or indoor plants. During the course of their evolution, they have had to adapt to constant change and many different environments and, as a result, have had to find their own “solutions” to each new challenge in order to survive in unfavourable positions. Just how adaptable this rather young family of plants is can be demonstrated by their many very different life forms.
Terrestrial orchids (from Latin terra = ground,) are rooted in soil. The European Green-winged Orchid (Orchis mono), for example, flourishes in loamy meadow soil that is rich in silicic acid, while the tropical lady’s slipper orchids prefer a loose, humus-rich forest soil.
Epiphytes are thewithin the family. In order to reach the light amid the prevailing gloom of the rainforest, they have adapted to living conditions in the tops of trees and in the forks of branches. Most of these epiphytes form aerial roots with which they cling on to their support and through which they also absorb nutrients and water. They are not, however, true parasites.
Lithophytes (from Greek lithos = stone) are a relatively small group which includes the stone. They flourish on bare rocks or extremely meagre layers of soil.