Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do You Love Orchids?

Add a little colour to your living spaces with fresh orchids ordered from around the world.
If you want to have a little bit of nature in your living room, there’s nothing better than colourful and supremely gorgeous orchids. Among the more exotic flowers put out by the plant life on terra firma, orchids have remained a popular choice when it comes to lending a special floral touch to any space. They often trace their origin to some truly amazing locale — dark rainforest or wind-swept hillside — and are luxuriously distinct in colour and appearance too.

Orchids have always been a florist’s favourite and today, with commercial orchid production, they have become more affordable. Pawan Gadia, vice president of Ferns and Petals, one of India’s largest florist chains, says the market for orchids in India is about Rs 30 crore, but pales in comparison with the sort of demand it has in the West. Not surprisingly, in view of this demand, several floriculture promotion agencies have been trying to encourage orchid cultivation. One area making leaps in this field is the state of Sikkim, often regarded as the orchid capital of India.

Which type of orchid should you bring back home for the festive season?

This is the most popular orchid family in the world. The Cymbidium family is found distributed all over tropical and subtropical Asia and, because it grows easily in the wild, it is considered very attractive for commercial cultivation. Cymbidium is the most produced and sold orchid in India. Each flower can have a diameter of up to 10 cm and these orchids come in a fantastic range of colours — white, green, yellowish-green, cream, yellow, brown, pink and red. What’s more, many cultivators even grow them in such a manner that there’s a fascinating intermingling of shades. So, there will be shades of ink blue teamed with a brilliant pink, or, for that matter, a burnt yellow in ash red. Cymbidium, however, never comes in blue or black — shades of blue can only be injected. A stem of this orchid at your local florist ranges from Rs 90 to 150.

In addition to being beautiful, this is one of the most diverse families of orchids. There is a stunning variety of dendrobium — over 1,200, to be precise — and this orchid can be found all over South, East and South-east Asia. What’s more, it has been an inspiration of sorts for floral emblems, also featured in a series of currency notes printed by the mint authorities in Singapore. Dendrobium is mostly a summer orchid and is also popular with cultivators in India. Price: Rs 30 per stem.

Imported orchids
Some of the more exotic orchids are imported from farms in Thailand, Holland and China. Phalaenopsis is the most popular orchid that is imported. With 60 varieties, it has the unique distinction of being among the few orchids that have artificial hybrids. Not surprisingly, these orchids are expensive and cost as much as Rs 200.

Speaking of imported orchids, Tiger orchids are a popular import. A native of the Americas, these often come from farms in Europe. These orchids are famous for the exquisite patterns on their petals, which can feature multiple colours. The flower size here can go up to 10 cm. Price: Rs 60.

Most expensive...
Though there are plenty of orchids that are advertised as the most expensive, there is one that catches the eye. Deep inside Kinabalu National Park in Sabah, Malaysia, grows the Rothschild’s Slipper. It is known popularly as the Gold of Kinabalu and is said to take up to 15 years to flower. It can be identified by its petals, which it holds horizontally in up to six large flowers. It grows in a fenced area of the park and its peak flowering season is April and May. A single stem can cost Rs 2.5 lakh!

Orchids at home
Orchids are said to be among the simplest plants to grow in your home. They have three basic requirements. All orchids only grow within a specific range of temperature, humidity and light. All you need to do is select your plants within the ranges that you can provide. The easiest types to grow are said to be the dendrobium and phalaenopsis hybrids. Any florist or gardening store can help you in acquiring these. It is said that most bathrooms are ideal for orchids, as they have a window for light and heat, and are naturally humid. You can also keep the plants in a tray full of wet gravel.

If nothing works, head to your local flower mandi or order the orchids on the Net and watch them bloom.

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