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Orchids are a beautiful and distinctive type of flower that is also one of the most diverse. The popularity of the orchid flower can be contributed to a number of factors. These factors include the fragrance of the flowers, their beauty, and their colorful blooms. Orchids can be found in paintings, worn as a corsage, or simply displayed for their beauty. People who are interested in orchid plants can best appreciate and care for them by educating themselves on their history and needs.
The History of Orchids
Depending on the species, the origin of orchids can be found around the world, from rural China to the greenhouses of florists in Lexington, KY. The plant had many uses and meanings in its history as well. In China, they were appreciated for their scent and their medicinal properties are listed in some of the oldest Chinese pharmaceutical texts. Orchids can also be found in Chinese artwork as a symbol of integrity and humility. In the Middle Ages, it was used in creating herbal remedies and for love potions. Often people would associate a specific emotion or symbol to the orchid flower. Love was a common emotion that was attributed to the plant, as was beauty and luxury. The orchid meaning was important when the flower was given as a gift or when they graced a person's home. Even dreams gave flowers of an orchid meaning, as it was said to represent a desire for romance and gentleness in a relationship. The popularity of orchid plants increased dramatically in the early 1800s when the first Cattleya orchid was bloomed. The plant was seen as something new and unique and almost instantly orchids reached a high level of popularity and demand in Europe. This led plant explorers, or orchid hunters, to search for the plants across the world. Because collectors were willing to pay the large sums of money for them, the explorers were willing to face danger and illness to locate more orchids. Once found, large quantities of the flowers were often taken from forests, particularly when new, less common species were located.
Orchids come in a host of colors and sizes. The exact appearance of an orchid flower depends on the specific species. Despite the plant's variations, there are some characteristics that they have in common. These characteristics include three petals, and three sepals that can easily be mistaken for petals. Orchids also have a waxy tube-like structure that is known as a column. The column is a fusion of the plants male and female organs. Orchids also have a single lip that extends which is called a labellum. This petal serves as a landing pad for bees and other pollinators and can vary in appearance depending on the particular orchid type. A majority of orchids also go through resupination, a process in which the lip starts at the top of the flower and moves downward as it matures. Another common characteristic of this type of flower is that it is bilaterally symmetrical.
Orchids Growth Types
Orchids are divided into two main growth types. Orchids that grow from a single stem are called monopodial orchids. They have aerial roots and the stem will grow indefinitely. The leaves of this type of orchid grow from the end of the stem and flowers from the sides at the base of the leaves. Sympodial orchids, which are the more common of the two orchid types, grow laterally and have stems that are bulb-like and are called pseudobulbs. These pseudobulbs contain nutrients and water that serve as a reserve source for the plant. Flowers emerge from the base or the end of the pseudobulb. New pseudobulbs will also grow from leads that emerge from the base, or from the rhizome.
Species of Orchid
There are between 20,000 and 30,000 species of orchids in existence around the world. As a result, the orchid family has one of the greatest numbers of species amongst all plant families. Many of these species are categorized at the Amerian Orchid Society, which is outside of and sometimes performs flower delivery in Miami, Florida. The specific species affects many aspects of the flower, such as pricing and care. Careful consideration regarding species should be taken into caccount when selecting orchid plants. For example, not all orchid types are suitable for indoor growth. Common species of orchids that adapt to indoor growth include the orchid species that fall under the genera of Phalaenopsis, Cattleya, and Dendrobium.
Orchid care varies depending on the type of plant. Ideally, one should check with a nursery regarding the specific orchid and its needs. There are, however, some basic instructions that a person can safely follow when caring for their orchid plants. Avoid planting them in soil, as most orchids will die in this type of medium. The plant requires a growing medium that allows for good drainage and aeration. Orchid potting mixes are made specifically for them. Clay or plastic containers work well, provided they allow adequate drainage. When keeping orchids indoors, place them in a location where there is plenty of indirect sunlight, ideally near a window. Watering them once a week is sufficient for most orchids, provided they are allowed to dry slightly between each watering and ensure that the pot is well-drained. They should receive at least 12 hours of light daily. Fertilize regularly using a water-soluble orchid fertilizer to ensure that it flowers and grows properly. Care should be taken, however, to avoid over-fertilization which can cause more harm than it will benefit. Decrease both the amount of watering and fertilizing after the plant has stopped flowering. Orchid plants also do well when there is moisture in the air. Humidity levels of 40 to 60 percent work well for most orchids.
Written by Ava Rose