I visited the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden over the holidays and fell in love with the orchids in the conservatory. What can you tell me about them? Are any for sale? Catherine E
Tourists come from all over to see this orchid display which was inspired by Longwood Gardens and the U.S. Botanical Garden. The setting is a $7 million dollar state of the art conservatory with full size palm trees and waterfalls. The orchid collection consists of several thousand plants that comprise all the major genera, both as hybrids and species, old and new.
Every Wednesday, the display orchids are changed - the newest bloomers are brought in and the finished ones removed. Staff members instruct visitors about the different varieties and their culture. The big showy Cattleyas seem to draw the biggest crowds.
The collection, itself, is grown offsite at a top secret undisclosed location and none are currently for sale. However, the garden's gift shop usually has a nice selection from which to choose.
I am about to give up on my orchids. They finished blooming in September and have done nothing since. Are they dormant? Betty B.
Patience! Orchids are excruciatingly slow growing often taking 5 to 7 years to bloom for the first time. Once mature, they continue to make us wait for even the smallest signs of life - the beginnings of a new leaf or the emergence of a small root tip. Weeks go by. Months go by. Finally something happens.
An orchid that just finished blooming in September is probably not going to bloom again until next summer. Most bloom once a year. The shorter days of fall and winter will further slow any growing activity to a crawl.
Don't give up though. My father once waited 21 years for his prized Cattleya hybrid to bloom.
This neophyte home orchid grower bought a Dendrobium over a year ago but it has not bloomed since. The plant lives in my living room and the foliage looks a healthy dark green. Help! Arthur H.
Orchid plants that have 'dark green' leaves may be 'healthy' but are usually not getting enough sunlight to bloom. In fact, a general rule of thumb for growers is to refer to the following simple chart:
Leaf Color Light Level
light green too bright
medium green just right
dark green too dark
Of course there are exceptions, but, in general, the color of the foliage indicates how much light the plant has been receiving over the past few months.
In addition, different orchids like varying light intensities. Here is a list of the most popular genera and their requirements.
Genus Light Level
We see that a Dendrobium requires intermediate light so a window that receives 'filtered
direct sunlight' will be necessary to get this plant to bloom.
Moving the orchid outside for the summer will also help.