Nature’s most interesting flower is about to bloom right here in the Philadelphia region at both Longwood Gardens and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. The opportunity to check out the unparalleled beauty, complexity and diversity of the orchid is coming soon. The world’s largest family of flowering plants, with the most beautiful, exotic, unique, and sometimes weird-looking flowers, will be on display this year at Longwood Gardens from January 19 through March 24 for their annual Orchid Extravaganza; and the International Orchid Show will be taking place the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University on April 12–14.
These beautiful, sometimes bizarre, often fragrant flowers were one of the first collections to be developed by founder Pierre S. du Pont, and his wife Alice, for their gardens at Longwood. For that reason, Longwood gardens celebrates the orchid each year in honor of the du Pont’s orchid collection by displaying almost 5,000 orchids blooming in the conservatory on the walls, in hanging baskets, and forming floral arches. (1) Not only can you see thousands of orchids, but you can also purchase them; the Longwood Gardens’ Orchid Sale will be held on Thursday, March 28 through Saturday, March 30, from 9:00 am–6:00 pm. You can purchase orchids that will be taken directly from the Orchid Extravaganza display, while supplies last. The sale will take place in the Garden Shop. Don’t forget, kids love orchids too; OrKID Day will be held January 21, February 18, March16 for the children. For more information about the Orchid Extravaganza, click here.
In previous years, Longwood Gardens hosted the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society (SEPOS) International Orchid Show and Sale; but this year, it will be held in the city of Philadelphia. SEPOS has held its annual orchid show in different locations for more than 40 years, and the most recent location was Longwood Gardens, located outside of the city. But this year, on April 12–14, SEPOS will hold their International Orchid Show and Sale at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia. This will be the first time the Academy of Natural Sciences will be transformed into an exotic garden. This orchid show will feature more than 30 outstanding orchid exhibits; and the museum will have over 1,200 orchid plants from individuals, as well as, orchid societies. Twenty-four vendors all the way from Brazil, Japan, and Ecuador will have gifts and orchid plants for sale.
Robert Sprague, Co-chair of the SEPOS orchid show, said moving the show to the Academy “will bring the joy of orchids to an even greater audience.” “Education and conservation are high priorities for both organizations,” Sprague also said. “This new partnership between the Academy and the orchid society will continue to foster the important work of educating people about the culture and conservation of the orchid.” “And this is the first time an orchid show of this magnitude will be held in Philadelphia.” (2) For more information and updates, click here or call 215-299-1000.
The most popular and easiest orchids to grow are Dendrobium Orchids and Phalaenopsis Orchids. Dendrobiums like bright light and Phalaenopsis Orchids prefer low light. A few of the most common orchids found in "casual" culture are Anguloa, Cattleya, Cymbidium, Laelia, Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, Oncidium, Vanda, Epidendrum, Brassia, Bulbophyllum, Catasetum, Sophronitis, Miltonia, and Phaius. Most orchids do grow in the tropics and subtropics, but they also grow in specialized habitats on all continents, except Antarctica. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, more than 50 species of orchids are found in the wild. Wikipedia reports that the orchid species equals two times the number of bird species. (3) Orchids grow on the bark of trees and get their nutrients from the bark. Many grow in the air instead of in the soil; their roots perform as sponges and absorb the water.
You don’t need a greenhouse or a green thumb to grow these exotic houseplants. The key to successfully growing orchids is choosing the right orchid for the right conditions. Also, some orchids like to dry out between watering, and some like high humidity. There are also fertilizers specially designed for growing orchids. Just choose the orchid that best suits your environment, grow one at a time, and then expand and learn how to grow others.
To learn more about how to grow orchids, light requirements, names and varieties, local orchid societies and more, click here.
To check out last year’s 2012 Orchid Show at Longwood Gardens, click here.
To check out the orchid display at the 2010 Philadelphia International Flower Show, click here.
Places to buy Orchids in the Philadelphia area