When people speak of orchids, they usually have the type in mind that are used in flower arrangements and for a corsage. This type is the common cymbidium orchid, but in fact orchids are the largest and most diverse of the flowering plants, with some 25,000 – 30,000 species!
They are considered to be some of the most advanced floral evolution known to man, and besides their often awe-inspiring beauty, they have commercial use as well, with the orchard genus vanilla being cultivated for…. hmmm…I wonder what?
Some species are extremely tenuous in their relationship to the environment. However, Don Bourke explored some varieties that will easily thrive in the garden.
Cattleyas can be grown in the backyard environment, and flower in many different shapes, and colors with the exception of blue.
Dendrobiums are a native to Australia, as well as Asia and the Pacific, and although there are thousands of species, the ‘floppy’ variety look great in hanging pots or garden arrangements.
Paphiopedilum, or the commonly called ‘slipper orchids’ are exquisite, but they need a little care, and moisture all-year round. They love a cozy site as well, cramp them in and they will thrive.
Sarcochilus are easy to grow, and are another Australian native. Once again, shady positions, and plenty of moisture are required.
If you want to find out more species, check the local nursery, and if you can, go for natives.
Peter says that in order to thrive, orchards need regular fertilizers and a suitable potting mix (try a cymbidium mix or another mix made up of 90% bark, 5% shellgrit and 5% charcoal.)