Monday, January 26, 2009

Orchid Suggestion: Start with Local Types

It is common "knowledge" that the orchid is a tropical/subtropical plant. But in fact, orchids can be found in just about every part of the globe outside of the deserts and the polar regions.

About 85% of orchid species will inded be found in the tropics and subtropics, but that leaves a large proportion to the more temperate zones. Among other things, this means that you will not be out of luck if you live in a cool area and want to grow orchids, but do not have a hothouse or other heated area in which do so so.

There are tens of thousands of orchid species. You could be amazed to know that there might be orchids growing in your own neighborhood, even if your home is in one of our more northerly climes. Take the fairly common Lady Slipper.

Lady Slippers (also written Lady's Slippers and Ladyslippers) is a name given to a large subfamily of orchids, the Cypripedioidea, with many species that grow in cool climates across North America and Europe. If you live in the New England states of the U.S., or the Appalachian mountain region, or even in Canada, you might find Lady Slippers of one variety or another growing in the woods near your home.

One species of Lady Slipper is the state flower of Minnesota. Another is the official state wildflower of New Hampshire. The Canadian province of Prince Edward Island has a Lady Slipper as its official flower.

If you're considering growing orchids, especially in an outdoor garden, you would do well to consider a native species. It will already be adapted to your specific climate, and--if you live in a place that sees low temps in the winter--you might not even have to bring it inside when cold weather arrives.

In North America, one of the most striking native orchids is the Yellow Lady Slipper. It is also among the easiest orchids to grow in a garden. On the other hand, the Pink Lady Slipper is extremely difficult to grow.For the beginning orchid grower, the Yellow Lady Slipper would be the better choice.

Nurseries that specialize in orchid plants tend to run out of stock from time to time. Nevertheless, Lady Slippers are generally some of the easiest orchids to acquire. They are furthermore less expensive, generally, than orchid plants that come from far away. They are a great orchid for getting your thumb green, so to speak, before you take on the challenge of rarer or more "foreign" species.

All of the rules governing successful orchid cultivation apply to the Lady Slippers and related plants. You need accurate information before you begin attempting to grow these or other orchids, and  the best, most thorough guide to modern orchid growing, without a doubt, is Orchid Care Expert by Nigel Howard, which can be downloaded online. Howard's guide constitutes a thorough education all to itself. And, you will find it suitable for neophytes as well as more seasoned orchid cultivators. Also, be sure to visit the Orchid Secrets web site, which has a growing database of articles on many aspects of orchid cultivation.

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