Featured Flower: Rare And Stunning Orchids On Display

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March 13, 2020

Attention all orchid lovers! The 75th Annual Santa Barba International Orchid Show takes place this weekend, offering visitors a chance to admire rare and endangered blooms typically seen in native habitats of Central and South America, Asia, Australia, and Africa.

IMAGE CREDIT: Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Facebook

Horticulturists and flower enthusiasts from around the world flock to the Earl Warren Showgrounds to view thousands of different orchid species and hybrids. The event is the largest and oldest orchid celebration in the United States. 

Orchids first made their appearance in California during WWll, and Santa Barbara’s mild Mediterranean climate became a natural home for them. Today more orchids are grown there than any other region in the country! 

About Orchids

No wonder there’s an entire show devoted to these beauties; there are more than 25,000 different species and 200,000 hybrids of orchids!

Because the species is so diverse, orchids come in a variety of sizes and flower types. For example, Grammatophyllum speciosum can weigh more than a ton, and miniature orchids are often just a few millimeters high.  

Orchids come in all colors, except for blue and black. 

Cymbidiums, Laelias, and Epidendrums are long-blooming and do well outdoors in warm climates. Moth orchids and lady slippers make the perfect indoor houseplant! 

Orchid Families

IMAGE CREDIT: Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Facebook

There are three different groups of orchids. 

  • Epiphytes (AKA air plants) grow on trees, and their roots cling to bark, not soil. 
  • Lithophytes grow on rocks. 
  • Terrestrial orchids grow in the ground. 

Growth habits of these flowers vary: Monopodial orchids have a single stem that grows up with leaves that grow opposite each other. Sympodial orchids grow horizontally, and new shoots appear from the old rhizome. Leaves and flowers form at the top of the stalks.

Orchid Care

Orchids have an exotic reputation, and while some are quite fussy and seem almost impossible for the home gardener to grow, others are more cooperative.

Be sure to research the exact orchid variety you have for a complete set of care instructions. Choose a type that is easier to care for and suits your climate. As a general rule, consider the following:

  • In temperate climates, tropical orchids will need to be grown indoors in bright conditions, but out of direct sunlight. 
  • Tropical orchids like daytime temperatures of about 73°F-85°F. Warm-climate orchids can tolerate temperatures of 55°F-70F.
  • Orchids like humidity, so misting its leaves with water is often appreciated.
  • Water orchids occasionally, either just as or after the potting mix dries out. It’s recommended to add moisture by placing an ice cube in the pot once a week.
  • All orchid varieties need a well-draining potting media. Be sure to choose one appropriate for the type you have (peat moss, bark, rock wool, perlite, fir bark nuggets).
  • Because the typical orchid growing media lacks nutrients, use a fertilizer specific to orchids to continue healthy growth.   
  • Orchids native to temperate climates can be grown outdoors if your area is warm enough! 

Are you interested in attending the 76th Annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show? It takes place at the Earl Warren Showgrounds on March 12-14, 2021.

Catherine Sherriffs
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Catherine Sherriffs

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her two young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.
Catherine Sherriffs
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