WHAT ARE ORCHIDS ?
The orchid family
is one of the largest groups of flowering plants on the
planet. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica
and in almost every conceivable habitat. With around 30,000
species growing in the wild and well over 150,000 man-made
hybrids there is no shortage of choice in the orchid world!
The highest density of orchids grow in the rainforests
all over the world, loving the humidity and shaded provided
by these environments. Not all orchids like hot conditions,
though. Many need cooler climates, as where they grow is
at high altitudes in the mountains where the temperatures
can drop very low at night.
As forest dwelling
plants, many orchids grow as epiphytes,
which means that they grow on the trees, clinging on with
thick aerial roots and storing water in either fleshy leaves
or thickened stems called pseudobulbs.
There are also many orchids that grow in the ground, including
our own native British species. These are know as 'terrestrials'.
The orchid family is certainly the
most diverse group of plants with so many various shapes,
sizes, colours and patterns to their stunning and often
extraordinary blooms. Whatever your taste in flowers, there
is certainly something for everyone in the orchid kingdom.
of a 'Sympodial Orchid'
orchids often have swollen stems called pseudobulbs
which store water and food, giving the plant energy to continue
to grow and flower.
grow new pseudobulbs each year and it is those newest pseudobulbs
that produce the next season's flowers. The older pseudobulbs
never tend to flower again but they remain on the plant
for many years giving it the support it needs to make more
growth and flowers in the future.The pseudobulbs are excellent
food storage organs which help the plants to get through
drier periods in the year without dehydrating. If the pseudobulbs
start to shrivel then this is a sign that the plant is too
dry and it is needing to draw on its reserves. Alternatively
if the roots rot through being too wet, this can also cause
the pseudobulbs to shrivel as they are not able to take
up any water. For more culture, click
of a 'Monopodial Orchid'
orchids like phalaenopsis or vandas tend to grow with a
central stem and leaves from either side.
also have plenty of aerial roots to help take up moisture
as they have no pseudobulbs in which to store the water
like the sympodial orchids do.
can often flower at any time of year as they don't always
need to make new growth before they can flower again. Phalaenopsis
are a good example of this.