I have no shame in admitting that I am an orchid fanatic, and everyone who knows me can attest to this. Their striking colors and mesmerizing forms enchant me. Some argue that orchids represent the largest family of flowering plants on earth, but others argue it is the sunflower family. Whatever the case really is, there are over 20,000 species of orchids (that we know of). With that in mind, instead of introducing you to a single species, this month I am going to introduce you to an entire family.
Members of the Orchidaceae family can be found just about everywhere these days, from the supermarket to home improvement stores. The most popular examples are (above, clockwise from top left) Phalaenopsis, Oncidium, Paphiopedilum, Dendrobium, Cymbidium, and Cattleya. The common name “orchid” generically covers the entire family, but some genera also have different common names. For example, Phalaenopsis are called moth orchids, Oncidiums are called the dancing lady orchid, and Paphiopedilum are called lady’s slipper orchids. Did you know that some orchids look like the insects that pollinate them, like this bee orchid? And did you know that vanilla is an orchid, too?
Orchids naturally come in just about every color imaginable except for blue (a true blue color is rare in the plant world). Some orchids are very fragrant, like this Oncidium Sharry Baby ‘Sweet Frangrance’ which smells like chocolate (yum!) or this Cattleya Irene Finney with it’s sweet, almost grape-like smell (both of these orchids are two of my personal favorites and are also in my collection at home). However, most orchids you’d use in floral arrangements don’t carry a heavy scent, but some may, and people sensitive to strong smells may dislike these fragrant flowers. Orchids don’t drop pollen (they contain it in a structure called a pollinium) so don’t worry about them causing any allergies. I couldn’t find a trustworthy source stating that orchid flowers are edible, but there are companies that grow and sell them only for eating purposes.
Orchid plants are grown in tropical regions or they are grown in greenhouses, so orchids are “in season” pretty much any time of year. Here is a really great website describing how to take care of your orchid stems as cut flowers, but to sum it up, they keep best in 50-60 degree Fahrenheit air and a quarter inch of stem should be cut off before placing the stems in a vase of warm (100 degree Fahrenheit) water. Also, a stem of orchids will last longer than a single bloom, say in a boutonniere.
Orchids have symbolized different things to many cultures throughout the ages, but today they represent luxury, maturity, charm, thoughtfulness, and refinement. A pink orchid symbolizes affection while the white Phalaenopsis symbolizes beauty. To me, they represent some of the best examples that the plant world has to offer. And I guarantee that once you get bitten by the “orchid bug”, there’s no cure!
Do you want to include these beautiful flowers in your wedding? The Green Kangaroo has the perfect Tropical Orchid Invitation for your orchid-themed wedding.
Want to see more? Check out my board on Pinterest.
Time to give credit where credit is due. Here are the sources I used:
Image: Dendrobium and Salad (celiacsinthehouse.com)