Orchid Care and Culture
Everyone I know who is interested in orchids has a unique story to the allure of collecting them. Whether you received one as a gift or are simply interested in starting a collection, I believe their uniqueness has an unprecedented power. Orchids are unlike any plant on earth. Not only are they simply gorgeous and quite unusual, they are long living and they are the only species that we can trace their lineage back to the original plant. Here's how it works...the original orchid is considered a true species which would be found growing in the wild. These true species were then cross pollinated with other orchid species which in turn created a new hybrid of those two plants. Then those hybrids were crossed with other orchid species and/or hybrids and so on and so on. The amount of variations and crosses in the orchid world are truly endless but you can always trace back how they were crossed simply by the name of the orchid to see their 'family tree'.
When I first started acquiring orchids, I was a super novice 16 yr old in high school. By my senior year, I built a green house in the back yard to hold my growing collection. Still trying to figure it all out but was determined not to let any die. I even had native ones I saved from a neighborhood hammock area that was going to be leveled for a housing development. No matter how many or how few orchids one may have, the challenge will always be to keep them alive and healthy. In my experience, the best way is to do that is recreate the orchid's natural habitat the best we can. Their requirements are simple: light, water/fertilizer, humidity, temperature and a growing medium.
At the beginning of my orchid collecting, the best piece of advice I was given is, "start with true orchid species, especially ones that do well in your enviornment/area." Hybrids can be difficult, costly and can have particular growing requirements you may need to recreate. Start with a few of these orchid species which grow very well in this climate: Brassavola, Cattleya, Epidendrum, Encyclia, Dendrobium, Oncidium, Phalaenopsis and/or Vanda. The names can be a little intimidating but don't let it deter you...my rule of thumb is, "if you like it, get it!"
So here are a handful of species and hardy hybrids I really enjoy growing and that I find do well here in South Florida.
- Brassolaeliocattleya (Blc.) Hawaiian passion 'Carmela' (hybrid)
- Brassolaeliocattleya (Blc.) Hawaiian wizard 'Carmela' (hybrid)
- Brassolaeliocattleya (Blc.) Laura Bush 'Carmela' (hybrid)
- Brassolaeliocattleya (Blc.) 'rustic spots' (hybrid)
- Brassavola grandiflora (species)
- Brassavola (B.) 'Jimminey crickets' (hybrid)
- Brassavola (B.) 'Little Stars' (hybrid)
- Brassavola (B.) nodosa (species)
- Brassavola (B.) 'Roman holiday' (hybrid)
- Cattleya (C.) chocolate drop 'kodoma' (hybrid)
- Cattleya (C.) leopoldii (species)
- Cattleya (C.) lueddemanniana (species)
- Cattleya (C.) schilleriana (species)
- Cattleya (C.) tenebrosa (species)
- Dendrobium (D.) farmeri (species)
- Encyclia (Enc.) cordigera (species)
- Encyclia (Enc.) radiata (species)
- Encyclia (Enc.) boothiana (species)
- Laeliocattleya (Lc.) gold digger 'redland gold' x Cattleya (C.) schilleriana (hybrid)
- Maxillariella (Max.) tenuifolia (species)
- Oncidium (Onc.) callistum (species)
- Oncidium (Onc.) ensatum (species)
- Potinara (Pot.) burana beauty 'burana' (hybrid)
- Rhynchostylis (Rhy.) gigantea (species)
- Rhynchostylis (Rhy.) gigantea 'spots' (hybrid)
- Schomburgkia (Sch.) tibicinis (species)
- Trichoglottis philippinensis variation (var.) brachtiata (hybrid)
STAY TUNED, THERE'S MORE TO COME...