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With an estimated 25,000 different types existing naturally and more being discovered each year, orchids are one of the largest flowering plant families.
Although they are commonly thought of as tropical flowers, orchids grow naturally in almost all climates. Today, the meanings of orchids are generally regarded as a symbolic of rare and delicate beauty.
Over the centuries orchids have been a symbol of love, luxury and beauty. In the Middle Ages they were used as a remedy for a number of illnesses. They have also been considered an aphrodisiac and a main ingredient in certain love potions.
It is important to understand, however, that not all orchids are suited to being cut flowers. In addition, how long your orchids will last depends on the variety and the use and care the blooms receive.
All varieties of cut orchids have been specifically bred to be cut flowers. They are long lasting, open quickly, do not fade and do not bruise or spot easily. Some orchids are thick and heavy, almost waxy in texture; orchids of this heavier substance will generally last longer than more delicate blooms. This is especially true if you will be using single blooms in corsages, bouquets or boutonnieres.
DENDROBIUM ORCHID: Originally from Asia, The Philippines, Himalayas and Australia, the genus dendrobium is one of the largest of all orchid groups. There are about 1,200 individual species, and they grow in all manner of climates, from hot, wet lowlands to high-altitude, colder mountains.
The Dendrobium Orchid was established by Olaf Swartz in 1799. The name Dendrobium comes from the two Greek words dendron (meaning tree) and bios (meaning life). These orchids grow on trees and are epiphytes, which means they depend on the tree for structural support but not nutrition.
Available in a wide range of colors, most commercial varieties are man made hybrids. “Dendros” are commonly used in Bouquets, hair decorations, table decorations, corsages and boutonnieres.
CYMBIDIUM ORCHIDS: The Cymbidium Orchid is absolutely beautiful and was first mentioned in China during the Chin dynasty, way back in 265 AD. Cymbidium orchids are native to tropical Asia and Australia.
They are best known for their incredibly irregular thick petals that are hard and waxy, almost translucent with entire margins. The center is often a contrasting color. Flowers are very showy.
The name is derived from the Greek word “Kumbos” meaning “Hole, Cavity”. It refers to the form of the base of the lip. The genus is abbreviated “Cym” for the horticultural trade.
One spike may have up to 30 flowers, each one measuring between four and six inches. These flowers can look good for more than two months after being cut.
They come in a wide range of colors, including reds, yellows, whites, greens and browns. Cymbidiums bloom only once a year and the season of bloom varies by species or hybrid.
Do not remove or knock off the anthers, as this causes premature death.
PHALAENOPSIS: Phalaenopsis (phals) is an Old World genus of about 50 species generally found in warm lowland forests of tropical Asia east of Sri Lanka to Papua New Guinea and Australia. Species can be found on larger islands within this range, with several desirable ones found in the Philippines.
Phalaenopsis are monopodial orchids, meaning that the plants grow upward from a single stem, producing leaves and flowers along that stem.
A mature phal will be in bloom much of the year with graceful good-sized blooms. Many different hybrids have been made, including Doritaenopsis, that look nearly identical.
Phalaenopsis orchids are available in several shades of lavender, cream, pink, white, yellows, burgundy and brown. Individual flowers can measure up to 10cm across. Most are imported from New Zealand and Holland and Vietnam.