Posted by Terry Everett on Sep 18, 2019
      Dr. Judy Cook told us everything we wanted to know about Orchids last week and then some.  The a/v presentation was definitely one of the best with the "a" part being aroma.
      Judy began raising orchids 40 years ago.  It was when she began her first year of psychiatric residency.  She claims that not only has it become a hobby and an obsession, but it w as lifesaver by giving her time away from patients. Judy really became involved when she became an orchid judge.  
      Orchids make up 10% of all blooming plants on the planet.  So why don't we see them everywhere?  Well, it's because we live in North America.  They are very abundant in South America, Asia and Europe.  There are about 30,000 species or orchids and about a half a million hybrids.
      Orchid seeds are like dust. They are literally just the nucleus and cell membrane.  As a result, they can travel a long way but when they land they require special conditions in order to survive and grow.  Orchids are also one of the very first things to be cloned.
     There is one particular orchid that we all unknowingly know about.  It is the vanilla orchid.  The vanilla orchid is also the only orchid that grows as a vine.  In order for vanilla orchids to produce pods (commonly referred to as beans), the plant must be pollinated by hummingbirds or a specific species of bees native to Central America. Furthermore, the flowers are only open for a short period of time. In order to harvest vanilla commercially, therefore, the plants must be hand-pollinated.
      Chrysanthemums, poinsettias and orchids are the most popular plants grown in pots.  Judy noted you will see them everywhere in Europe.  Although orchids will grow pracically anywhere but on a sheet of ice, they have to be grown in similar conditions they are native to.  Orchids native to cooler climates will not grow well in Texas.  Those native to hot, humid climates will grow in Texas.  
      There are many different sizes ranging from very small plants that would fit on your finger to very large.  Large orchids have leaves that are eight to twelve inches long with flowers three to five inches across.
      A majority of orchids are perennial, which grow anchored to trees or shrubs in the tropics or subtropics.  Some species grow on rocks or very rocky soil.  Others are terrestrial and can be found in habitat areas such as grasslands or forest. 
      When looking for an orchid it’s best to shop at a reputable orchid nursery or online seller because they will be able to tell you how to properly care for the particular orchid that you purchase. You can also find them in big box stores. The orchids sold in these stores are usually hybrids that have been bred for hardiness, which makes them great beginner orchids. The Phalaenopsis orchid is one of the most common you will find.