VICTORIAN ENGLAND?S ORCHID CRAZE

Orchids were safe from predation in all of the countries where they are found; in every continent except Antartica, they can be found above the Arctic Circle, in the deserts of the world, in jungles, and in the high mountains. The impossibility of transplanting them safely on long sea voyages changed when Dr. Nathanial Ward, quite by accident, invented what became know as the Wardian case or terrarium in 1829. The discovery meant that delicate plants could be kept in good condition for months as they were transported by ship across the world.

William Swainson, a English naturalist sent home a box of orchids from Rio de Janerio, launching an orchid craze that lasted well into the 19th Century. At the height of the Orchid craze a collector in England paid 1500 pounds sterling for one plant. In today?s dollars that comes to around $180,000 US.

The industry today generates about $9 billion world wide per annum. Collectors still go to exotic places to collect species that are unknown to science. The collection of wild orchids is highly regulated, but the financial stakes are such that collectors will go to great lengths to add to their collections.

I do not purchase species orchids for several reasons. For the purposes of this article, hybrids are not as challenging to grow as species can be. There are 25,000 species in the wild, and over 100,000 hybrids.

There is something in the hybrids for every taste and pocketbook, ranging from a $15 baby plant to those costing hundreds of dollars.

Drop by Floral Fantasy and Gifts to have a look at the Phalonopisis orchids in stock now. The large white in the window belongs to me and will give you some idea of what you can expect your plant to look like in a year or two. Moth orchids will continue to grow, producing larger flower stems and bigger flowers over time. My white has been blooming on the same stem since last May.

Your plant is easy to care for as African Violets, which is why they are the number one choice for amateur growers. Of course the other added attractoin is that they are truly beautiful, and fully deserving of the name ?Queen of Flowers?.

Phals need a temperature drop to set the flower spikes (in the spring). Tumbler Ridge?s climate is ideally suited for them. Average household temperatures will suit them perfectly during the day, and the natural temperature drop that we experience at night will set the flower buds. The plant is receiving enough light if the leaves are a nice grass green colour. Leaves that are too dark indicate not enough light, and those that are very light are receiving too much light. Your plant will let you know quite quickly what its preferences are in your home. Keep them on a tray filled with water and pebbles to increase the humidity around the plant, but do not leave the orchid pot in the water. Raise it by setting it on another container.

Happy growing!