I love orchids; I only wish I could keep them alive! They usually last about a couple of months or so and then, slowly, agonizingly, they die off, bit by little bit. This is not because I am rubbish with plants; I am usually fairly good (I should be – I am after all, a trained florist, but haven’t done this job in over 20 years). However, this plant just will not grow for me, no matter what I try.
My Dad, on the other hand, has no such problems with his orchids. Oh no, he apparently doesn’t have to do a lot, and they just flower, and flower, oh and then flower some more. Can you tell I’m jealous?
My last attempt was with a little dwarf variety about a year or so ago, and true to form, after a few months of flowering, it slowly died, and I mean real slow, it hung on for quite some time, giving me a faint glimmer of hope that my luck may have changed – I should have known better, as the end was inevitable.
I admire anybody who can keep these plants alive and flowering – these people are semi gods to me.
Nowadays I get my orchid fix in the conservatory of our local zoo. They always have a fantastic amount of different varieties and change them around on a regular basis, so I never know which beautiful specimens I will encounter on my visits.
A little research reveals some surprising facts about orchids (after all, no post of mine would be complete without some background information and history!).
There are around 25,000 different documented species of orchid, and more are being discovered every day. Scientists believe that many more species are yet to be discovered in the tropical areas of our planet. The orchid genus is an old one, is very diverse and widespread. These magnificent flowers grow naturally all over the world.
According to one expert, the reason why people love orchids is because of their bilateral symmetry, like our own human faces. This basically means that, if you draw a line down the middle of the flower, the two halves are mirror images of each other, just like our faces. And I must say, to me orchids have always looked like little faces, and now I know why.
According to a study from 2007, which was published in the journal “Nature”, pollen from an ancient orchid was found on the back of a bee encased in amber. The fossil was dated to around 10 million or 15 million years ago, but some scientists suspect that the orchid family is much older than this. Some research even dates some species of orchid to around 120 million years ago, before the continents split into their current form. Their reasoning for this is that two species of orchid, whose natural habitats are thousands of miles apart, are actually closely related. It is believed that these plants probably had a common ancestor before the continental drift separated them.
The most popular species of orchid is the flat leafed vanilla plant, which is also one of the most widespread around the globe. This plant is cultivated all over Latin America for its flavorful charms, the vanilla pods.
If you happen to be one of the semi gods who keep orchids successfully I would love to hear from you and find out what your secret is!