Usually I don’t pay much attention to houseplants, but when we were visiting my in-laws over Easter weekend, I couldn’t help but notice my mother-in-law’s orchids. Their beauty was so seductive that I didn’t even try to resist. Out came the camera, and these portraits are the result of our little tête-à-tête.
These are Phalaenopsis hybrids, commonly called “moth orchids” because the flowers are said to resemble moths in flight.They are native to Southeast Asia, and most of them are epiphytic, i.e. they grow on other plants, usually trees. That explains why in cultivation they’re not potted in soil but rather in a coarse medium typically consisting of bark, expanded clay pellets, or sphagnum moss.
There are so many fascinating things to learn about orchids, and if I don’t stop myself now, there’s no telling where it might end!
I will, however, recommend an orchid book that is as spellbinding as a good thriller. It’s called Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy and was written by journalist Eric Hansen. This book is not about orchid cultivation or care, but rather about the weird, wonderful, and, yes, dangerous subculture of orchid collecting. Be sure to read the reviews on Amazon; you’ll be as intrigued as I was. The book was everything I had hoped it would be.