Anacacho orchid tree for sale

Gardening: A catalpa in bloom is like a tree full of orchid blossoms

I stopped to stare at some buckets of flowers at a farmers’ market last Sunday. The white flowers, their throats speckled purple and yellow and grouped together on stalks like a candelabra, looked almost like orchids. But there’s no orchid that showy that could be harvested in such quantities in a cold-winter climate.

Buckets and buckets were overflowing with these flowers; even an average-size greenhouse couldn’t supply that many orchid blossoms at once.

The flowers were not orchids, of course. I stared and scratched my head, and then was embarrassed when the farmer told me what they were: catalpa flowers.

Catalpa. One of my favourite trees. I’d always admired the blossoms en masse and from afar, as they decorated enormous trees. Now, here they were, up close and bunched together in buckets.

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Catalpa has a lot going for it besides beautiful flowers. It tolerates all sorts of growing conditions: heat, cold, wet soils, dry soils, pollution, sun and shade.

Catalpa’s leaves, as well as its flowers, evoke the tropics. The leaves are large, up to about a foot long, and heart-shaped.

It’s a wonder that more people don’t plant catalpa trees. One reason is that catalpa can be a big tree, and a behemoth 75 or 100 feet tall and half that width is too large for many yards. (A southern species, also quite cold-hardy, grows to only half that size.)


The main reason people don’t plant catalpas is because the trees are considered messy. Those large leaves look dramatic hanging on the branches but once they drop … well, they’re not as attractive flopped down on a lawn.

And then there are the fruits. Catalpa is also known as Indian Pipe or Indian Stogie for the foot-long, half-inch-wide brown fruits that dangle in profusion from the stems. They drop in autumn and winter, and some people object to those stogies on their lawn. Some people also don’t like the dropped flowers littering the lawn. But wait a second here: I don’t consider a lawn awash in orchid-like blossoms to be littered!

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I do have other beefs, all relatively minor, against my catalpa tree. The first is that catalpas leaf out late in spring so that, for a time in spring when just about every other plant is green, catalpa appears to be dead. Its bare branches do get to show off how thick, craggy and muscular they are, a look I appreciate more in winter than in spring.

Second, by late summer the leaves usually pick up a thin, sooty covering, the result of a superficial fungus living on aphid honeydew and otherwise doing the tree little harm.

And third, in autumn the leaves do nothing more than fall, never turning anything more than a washed-out green colour.


Still, catalpas are well worth planting in the right place, which means a large yard and a portion of lawn that is not manicured, unless you enjoy raking. Catalpas are not long-lived, but they’re fast-growing and precocious. Once cut down, their soft wood carves and turns well. The heartwood is also very rot-resistant, ideal for fence posts and arbors.

Catalpa is native to a relatively small area of the central Midwest, but has spread from there, planted mostly for fence posts and landscaping. You won’t find whole forests of them; self-seeding ones tend to just pop up here and there – in my yard, for instance.

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Considering the tree’s white blossoms, muscular form, large leaves and useful wood, I plant to let some of these seedlings grow or transplant, rather than weed out.

© 2015 The Canadian Press

Flowers That Look Similar to Orchids

Orchids are tropical flowers, of which there are now over 35,000 different species, ranging from those with petals no more than one cell thick, to those over 6 inches across. The structure of an orchid is unique, with three petals and three sepals in the center is a cupped petal. Orchids come in white, cream, purple, yellow and red. Perhaps due to the fact that so many orchid varieties exist, some people mistake other flower types for orchids.


Orchid trees grow to 30 feet tall. It’s a subtropical to tropical plant that blooms in late winter and early spring. The flowers look like small purple dendrobium orchids.

Anacacho Orchid is a small tree that grows 12 feet tall, with white blossoms resembling tiny orchids. Most lose their leaves for at least a few weeks, even in warmer climates.

The Royal Empress tree grows 60 feet high with large, flat, round leaves and pale pink and purple blooms that resemble phalaenopsis orchids. It’s cold tolerant to -5 degrees F, as well as drought-tolerant.

Bulbs, Corms and Tubers

Bearded Iris blooms in early summer and has a sweet scent. The petals are ruffled and look like a cattleyas orchid. Bearded Iris comes in purple, white, yellow and peach.

Japanese Iris look like bigger versions of epidendrum porpax orchids.

Double daylilies in shades of purple resemble cymbidium orchids.

Byzantine gladiolus is an heirloom plant with deep magenta flowers resembling solid color miltonia orchids on a single stalk, blooming in mid-summer. The leaves are sword-shaped.


Wolfei’s vine or Nong Nooch Vine have yellow bracts with small white flowers in the center blooming profusely on the tips of the vines. They look like epidendrum orchids. Bracts are leaves that turn color, such as pink, white, purple, or yellow for example. The bracts surround the actual tiny flowers giving the appearance of a colored flower. Poinsettias are a familiar example of bracts with flowers.

Toad lilies grow in shade and boggy soil and don’t look anything like a toad or lily but they do look like orchids. Leaves may be bright green, dark green or streaked with white. The flowers are white, pink or purple. Many of the blooms are spotted with a darker color on a white background.

Information On Orchid Tree Culture: Growing Orchid Trees And Orchid Tree Care

Unlike their more northern cousins, the coming of winter in Central and South Texas is not heralded by plummeting temperatures, icicles and a brown and gray landscape sometimes brightened by the white of falling snow. No, winter there is celebrated with the colorful blooming of the exotic looking Anacacho orchid tree (Bauhinia).

Orchid Tree Info

The Anacacho orchid tree is a member of the pea family and while some authorities claim it hails from the tropical and subtropical areas of India and China, South Texans claim it as their own. It is found growing wild there in two distinct locations: the Anacacho Mountains of Kinney County, Texas and a small area along the Devil’s River where this orchid tree is also known as Texas Plume. Because of the natural adaptations of the orchid tree, culture has spread to other desert areas where xeriscaping is a must.

Growing orchid trees are easily recognized by their twin lobed leaves, which have been described as butterfly-like or Texas style — like the print of a cloven hoof. It is semi-evergreen and will keep its leaves throughout the year when the winter is mild. The flowers are lovely, reminiscent of orchids, with five-petaled white to pink to violet blossoms that arrive in clusters fairly continuously from late winter to early spring, depending on the species. After that, the Anacacho orchid tree will rebloom occasionally after a heavy rain.

Information On Orchid Tree Culture

If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10, you should be asking about how to grow an orchid tree as care of these beauties is as easy as digging a hole in the ground.

Reaching only 6 to 10 feet tall with a spread of about 8 feet, these trees are moderate to fast growing. Their many trunked forms make them ideal as specimen plants or container grown patio trees. They are attractive to butterflies and honeybees, but are deer resistant. It has no serious disease or insect problems.

Orchid tree culture is fairly straightforward. Growing orchid trees thrive in full sun and do well in bright shade. They must have well drained soil and when planting an orchid tree, care should be taken to place it outside the reach of a sprinkler system.

Orchid trees, once established, can withstand drought conditions, but cannot tolerate temperatures below 15°F (-9°C).

Orchid Tree Care

If you live in Zone 8a, you may want to give your orchid tree care and protection against a south wall and mulch around it just in case an unusually harsh winter occurs.

There are a few extra things you can do that would fall under how to grow an orchid tree, but these are normal maintenance tasks for any gardener and not particular to the Anacacho orchid tree. In summer, water your tree at least once a week, but in winter, cut back to every four to six weeks and only if it doesn’t rain.

Trim off any unsightly or leggy growth after the blooms fade and, of course, prune out any dead, diseased or broken branches any time of year. Cut off any shoot growth from the trunk base if you want to keep the classic tree form. Some people prefer to allow their orchid tree to take on a more shrub-like appearance, in which case, leave those shoots alone. It’s strictly up to you.

The final direction for how to grow an orchid tree would be to plant it where it can be seen blooming in all its glory. It’s a show not to be missed.

Buy Anacacho Orchid Trees in Helotes at Wilson Landscape Nursery

​​​​​​​​​Anacacho Orchid Tree-Bauhinia lunarioides

Custom Plant Information By Wilson Landscape Nursery & Florist

Native Home

Anacacho Orchid Tree is native to the Anacacho Mountains of Kinney County, Texas. These hills are in southwest Texas, west of San Antonio, toward the city of Del Rio, south of Highway 90. Anacacho Orchid tree is rare in Texas but a Texas native none-the-less. It is also native to Maverick and Val Verde Counties, also in southwest Texas, and northeastern Mexico.

Landscape Strengths

This is a beautiful, tuff, multi-trunked, small ornamental tree or large shrub, depending upon how you trim it. Little white orchid-like flowers cover it in spring, usually beginning in early April. It blooms a few weeks later than the Redbud trees. The flowers are very fragrant. It will re-bloom throughout the summer after rainfall though not as awesome as at first. This awesome native small ornamental tree is simply unknown by many people or it would be used much more. Its leaves look like a small-leafed Red Bud tree. On closer inspection the leaves resemble a little cow’s foot with a partial division between the two lobes of each individual rounded leaf. The leaves are only a few inches across but there are many. When not in bloom, Anacacho Orchid is pleasant to look at. It has an attractive limb structure that shows a tiered effect, especially when thinned out to reveal the limb structure.

Use as a small ornamental tree like Crepe Myrtle. Cut the older limbs of the multi-trunked base, at the base, (do not top) periodically, to create a large cascading shrub and to keep it fresh. Left to itself, Anacacho Orchid will become a multi-trunked large shrub. It seems to look better when the number of trunks are reduced to five or so. It is difficult to maintain as a single trunked specimen nor does it seem to look as good when trimmed that way. It can reach 10’ feet tall and just as wide. It grows a little wider and shorter than a Redbud tree.

Unlike Red Bud, Anacacho Orchid will re-bloom throughout the summer, especially after rainfall, though never quite as awesome as its spring bloom. It is very drought tolerant and the foliage looks better than a Crepe Myrtle during drought. Anacacho Orchid loves full blazing sun and will not do nearly as well as an understory tree like Red Bud. It does well in rocky conditions along with some soil enhancement as well. It actually does not perform as well in deep, light, organic soil. It likes to dry out between waterings and performs very well on rainfall alone, once established, as long as it rains at least once a month in summer.

Landscape Weaknesses

All plants have strengths and weaknesses. In these plant information sheets you will find plants that overcome weaknesses. We are continuing to add worthy plants, a custom work in progress.

​ Anacacho Orchid Tree does not shear well so is not a good fit for the person who wants a neat boxed, rounded or sheared hedge/shrub. It is difficult to create and maintain a single trunked tree-like form. It can look a bit too airy and ragged for some. It gets pretty big so may outgrow its space. It needs to be cleaned up of occasional dead wood and twigs every few years to look its best. It also looks best when the sucker growth is minimized to five trunks or so. Left to itself it will become a large shrub with some eventual dead wood. After years of growth, it is best not to try to save an old branch by cutting it back or topping it off. It is better to cut the older limb off at the base. New suckers/water sprouts are always emerging and need to be kept up with for a more majestic open look. It does not like deep soil where automatic sprinkler systems keep the ground wet for extended periods. It needs to be staked if the soil is deep and loose or it will grow crooked or blow over in the wind. It actually prefers some rockiness and dryness which is really not a weakness, except for the puzzled gardener who cannot figure out what he or she is doing wrong by giving the plant such great care. Anacacho Orchid Tree should not be given very much shade and should not be thought of as an understory plant like Redbud. It loves full blazing sun. The flowers, themselves, are not as large or pretty as a true Orchid. There are several larger flowering Orchid Trees but these are not as cold-hardy or tough as the Texas Anacacho Orchid though their leaves and flowers are more awesome in a more favorable environment. Anacacho Orchid tree produces an abundance of green seed pods in late summer. These pop open at random with a popping sound on late hot summer days releasing seeds which is interesting. After this the seed pod casings turn black and shrivel remaining on the tree a few months which is not particularly attractive.

Anacacho Orchid Basic Information

Sun/Shade: Full sun

Type: A deciduous flowering ornamental tree or large shrub.

Deer Resistance: Not favored by Deer.

Butterflies/Hummingbirds: Love it.

Drought Tolerance: Very drought tolerant but looks best with watering after drying out without wilting.

Soil: Not particular about soil as long as it drains well and does not remain constantly wet. Does well in rocky soil or better with soil enhancement but does not like deep organic soil alone.

Water: Smart Watering Principle=Water well by gently flooding when first planted, then allow to dry slightly, without wilting, then water deeply again, etc.

Easy Watering Principle= Water every day the first week; every second day the second week; every third day the third week; every fourth day the fourth week; every fifth day the fifth week then once every two weeks if it does not rain. A soaking rainfall should last for about two weeks worth of watering. Do not keep constantly wet.

Fertilizer: Does not need much fertilizer.

Maintenance Tips: Use some rocky hard soil along with good soil when planting. Firm the base and support the trunk with a boulder or stake the trunk since the tree tends to bend at the base in loose soil or until firmly established. Train into a low canopied multi-trunk tree-form like Mountain Laurel for the best effect.

Rating: Rates high as a landscape plant. ​

If you are interested in buying or just looking at our stock of Anacacho Orchid come on into our nursery or give sherry a call!

Anacacho Orchid Tree

Anacacho Orchid Tree

A small-but-mighty tree, anacacho orchid tree is an all-star focal point plant for foundation planting areas or for anchoring a garden bed. Count on its silver-gray bark to provide interest in winter while its fragrant, white or pink, orchidlike flowers steal the show in spring. Select a multi-stem specimen and enjoy the lovely lines of the limbs of this small tree. Don’t have space for a tree in your planting spot? Choose a shrub version of anacacho orchid.

genus name
  • Bauhinia lunarioides
  • Part Sun,
  • Sun
plant type
  • Tree
  • 8 to 20 feet
  • 6 to 10 feet
flower color
  • White,
  • Pink
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Spring Bloom
problem solvers
  • Deer Resistant
special features
  • Attracts Birds,
  • Fragrance
  • 8,
  • 9,
  • 10,
  • 11
  • Seed,
  • Stem Cuttings

Colors of Anacacho Orchid Tree

Pair anacacho orchid with other low-water plants for an easy-care and water-smart landscape. Some colorful perennial companions for anacacho orchid include yarrow, blanket flower, black-eyed Susan, and penstemon. Count on these perennials to begin blooming shortly after anacacho orchid blooms fade in late spring. These summer-blooming perennials unfurl new blooms through summer when their spent blooms are removed. Great succulent companions include prickly pear, agave, and yucca.

Try out this low-water garden plan to keep your yard thriving during dry spells.

Caring For Anacacho Orchid Tree

Native to lean, fast-draining soils of the southwest United States and Mexico, anacacho orchid is available as a tree, multi-stem tree, and shrub at specialty nurseries. It has a dense, bushy form in its native habitat but with selective pruning can be sculpted into an upright tree with an open, airy habit. Shrub forms of anacacho orchid are equally beautiful and bring the fragrant flowers to eye level.

Plant anacacho orchid in early spring. Choose a planting site with full sun or part shade. Remember, though, plants in full sun will flower more robustly than those growing in part shade. Drainage is important. Select a site with quick-draining soil; anacacho orchid does not grow well in heavy clay. Water the plant regularly during the first growing season to encourage strong root growth. Regular irrigation in dry environments is beneficial and will keep the plant looking its best through extended dry periods. A 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the root zone will also help conserve soil moisture. Do not fertilize anacacho orchid. Fertilizing causes quick and weak growth and negatively impacts the structure of the tree.

Find more flowering shrubs to fill empty spaces in your garden with pops of color.

Significant cold periods threaten anacacho orchid. A freeze will often kill branches but will rarely kill the tree or shrub. Expect the size of the plant to be reduced, but a healthy plant will take off and grow again with gusto. In Zone 8, plant anacacho orchid on the south side of a building where it will receive some protection from cold spells and winter winds.

Mounting Orchids

Creating Orchid Mounts

Growing orchids outside on trees and inside on mounts is a beautiful and natural way of displaying these plants. If you live in the United States and are unsure if growing orchids outdoors is a good option for you where you live, you can visit the USDA’s website, enter your zip code, and look at the plant hardiness zone map. For zones that have an average minimum temperature below 40°F (4.4°C) or receive frost, growing orchids outdoors is not recommended. If you don’t live in an area where you are able to grow orchids outdoors, you can create a beautiful orchid display inside of your house by mounting orchids.

Mounting Orchids Outdoors

If you are able to, and would like to try your hand at growing orchids outdoors, the first thing you are going to need to do is choose an orchid that is going to be able to flourish in the outside environment where you live. For example, if you live in an area where the minimum temperature is very warm, you will not want to try growing orchids outside that are cool-growers.

After you have determined the best type of orchid, the next step is to find an ideal location. You will want to find a tree or stump that doesn’t receive direct sunlight all day, but also doesn’t experience too much shade. Once you’ve determined the best location, the next step is attaching the orchid to the host. It is important that the orchid has roots, otherwise it won’t have anything to attach itself with. Attaching the orchid is as simple as setting it directly on the host and wrapping cotton string (will eventually decompose) around the orchid to secure it in place. Be sure not to tie the sting too tight because this can cause damage to the orchid. You will also need to make sure to place the orchid with its crown in a downward angle as to not let it collect with water and invite rot.

When attaching an orchid to an outside host, you do not need to add any type of medium under the orchid because it will retain too much moisture and can easily cause root rot. Orchids attached to outside hosts will need to be watered more frequently than those planted in potting medium. The reason is because orchids attached to trees and other hosts don’t have the potting medium to retain moisture, and so they tend to dry out fairly quickly. You will still need to remember to regularly fertilize your orchid in order for it to flourish.

You will also want to be sure to regularly inspect your orchid for pest and disease as well as monitor the color of the leaves to ensure that it is receiving the ideal amount of light. In about a year’s time, you should find that your orchid has completely attached itself to its host.

Inside Orchid Mounts

If you do not live in an area where growing orchids outside is an option, you can always try your hand at mounting an orchid to create an incredible inside display. Not only does this create a gorgeous display, it can be beneficial to your orchid’s health in that it allows for great drainage and ventilation to the roots to help prevent orchid disease.

There are several different options when deciding on an orchid mount. You can choose from many natural materials such as tree bark, cork bark, or wood slats to name a few. These materials can easily be found on online orchid supply websites or orchid nurseries. The mounting process is very simple and you will only need a few supplies.

The first step in mounting an orchid is to place a small amount of sphagnum moss evenly around the roots of the orchid. Next, you place the orchid onto the mount with the orchid’s crown angled downward. The last step is to wrap cotton string, thin wire, or fishing line around the bottom of the orchid to attach it to the mount you have chosen. Be careful to not tie the string or wire too tight because this can cause damage to the plant.

You will need to water orchids attached to mounts more frequently than potted orchids since they tend to dry out fairly quickly.

The easiest way to water a mounted orchid is to place the entire mount in a bowl of water and allow it to soak for about ten to fifteen minutes time. To help keep your mounted orchid from drying out as quickly between each watering, you can place a humidifier nearby or mist your orchid daily.

Whether you are able to mount an orchid to an outside host or create a mounted orchid for an inside display, you will have an original and equally beautiful orchid presentation to show off to your family and friends.

Next Steps: Where do you go from here?

A couple options:

#1 – More Free Orchid Tips!
At a minimum, I strongly recommending signing up for our orchid tips newsletter (it’s free!). That’ll give you some additional (more detailed) step-by-step tips you can start using with your orchids right away…

#2 – Get Access to ALL My Articles on Orchids…
If you’d like to learn everything you need to know about caring for ALL types of orchids we also have something called the Orchids Made Easy Green Thumb Club.

The Green Thumb Club includes a number of different benefits – including weekly lessons on all different orchid care topics delivered to you in a special, password-protected members area. You also get the opportunity to get YOUR actual questions answered in my weekly “Ask The Orchid Guy” column, which you can check out here.

The Green Thumb Club costs less than a meal at McDonald’s – and ALSO includes all sorts of ADDITIONAL benefits, including exclusive discounts at orchid suppliers from 20-40% off as well access to our “orchid diagnosis tool” which helps you identify what problem might be plaguing your plant.

Because the club is backed by a full 100% money-back guarantee for a full 30 days, if after checking it out you decide that it’s not for you or that you didn’t get value you out of what you learned – no problem! Simply send us an email to let me know, and you’ll receive a fast and courteous refund. Put it this way: If you’re not happy, I’m not happy!

(By the way, this here will give you access to 50% off the cost of membership. A little “gift” for reading this article all the way to the end :-))

All my best,

Ryan “The Orchid Guy” 🙂

IMPORTANT: To learn everything you need to know about caring for your orchids, if you haven’t already I strongly recommend signing up for the “Orchid Care Tips & Secrets Newsletter” my wife and I publish by clicking here.

It’s completely free – and the best part? You can even choose the type of information you’d like to receive (reblooming tips, basics of orchid care, etc.) Join over 20,000 fellow orchid enthusiasts young and old and sign up for our free orchid care newsletter today! 🙂

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Bringing A ‘Million Orchids’ To Florida’s Trees

Researchers at a South Florida botanic garden want to return the state’s orchids to their former glory.

When railroads first came to Florida in the late 1800s, the plants were among the first resources exploited. Millions of orchids were plucked and sent north as potted plants. Now, after more than a century of logging and harvesting, it’s rare to find them growing in the wild here.

But if researchers at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden succeed with their Million Orchid Project, the flowers will soon bloom amid the hustle and bustle of city life.

“The basic concept is to get these orchids out into the community,” says Carl Lewis, Fairchild’s director. “We’re trying to get them into some of the most population-dense urban areas here in South Florida.”

Fairchild is starting with three orchid species that it’s cultivating from seeds in the Botanic Garden’s micropropagation lab.

Volunteers include scientists and others with lab experience who grow the orchids from seeds no bigger than a speck. There are several racks full of bottles, each containing dozens of tiny orchids.

The flowers start out as green blotches. Transferring them from one container to another as they grow is a bit like building a ship in a bottle. Volunteers use forceps to move each little shoot, one by one.

As they grow, the orchids are moved to a greenhouse. And when they’re large enough — beginning this spring — volunteers, arborists and others will begin putting them into trees throughout Miami.

Lewis says the Million Orchid Project is part of a new direction in conservation, working not just in natural areas but where people live. He got the idea from a similar orchid project in Singapore.

Some of the orchids won’t survive, he says; others may be taken. But he’s confident the project will re-establish some of Florida’s most beautiful native plants back into the wild.

Lewis says labs have done this for other endangered plants, too.

“A classic example is the Venus flytrap that was hunted almost to extinction from the bogs of North Carolina,” he says. “But now, there are micropropagation labs producing them by the millions. You can buy them in supermarkets. No one has the incentive to go back and steal them from the wild. So the populations are actually recovering.”

A million native plants established in local trees, Lewis hopes, will begin to do something similar for Florida’s native orchids.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


As flowers go, it’s hard to beat the variety and exotic beauty of orchids. And Florida has more native species of orchids than any other state. But even there, after more than a century of logging and development, wild orchids are hard to find.

NPR’s Greg Allen reports that a botanic garden near Miami has an ambitious plan: Planting a million orchids throughout South Florida.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is internationally known for its research and conservation, also for its extensive tropical plants collection. Carl Lewis is a biologist and Fairchild’s director. He points 30 feet up to the trunk of a palm tree, where a native orchid has taken root.

CARL LEWIS: This is called the cowhorn orchid, Cyrtopodium punctatum.

ALLEN: Oh, yeah.

LEWIS: You can see some fruits hanging there from last year, and the flowers are just starting to open up.

ALLEN: A cluster of yellow and red blossoms reaches out from the orchid’s spiky leaves. There are varieties of orchids that grow on the ground. But in sub-tropical South Florida, most grow on the trunks or tree limbs. In the late 1800’s, when the railroad came here, they were one of the first resources exploited. Millions of orchids were harvested and sent north as potted plants. Today, few are left in the wild. Lewis expects to change that soon. Under his direction, Fairchild has begun something it calls the Million Orchid Project.

LEWIS: The basic concept is to get these orchids out into the community. We’re not looking at putting them in natural areas per se, but we’re trying to get them into some of the most population-dense urban areas here in South Florida.

ALLEN: Lewis got the idea from Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, which did something similar – establishing orchids in the heart of the city.

LEWIS: And it’s amazing to walk down a busy city street. And you wouldn’t notice anything unless you look up into the canopy of the trees, and you’ll see native, flowering orchids.

ALLEN: Fairchild is starting with three orchid species that it’s cultivating from seeds started here – in the Botanic Garden’s micro-propagation lab.


LEWIS: Volunteers in here. Stephanie Thorman.

ALLEN: The volunteers include scientists and others with lab experience who work in sterile conditions to grow the orchids from seeds no bigger than a speck. There are several racks full of bottle, each containing dozens of tiny orchids.

LEWIS: These have actually already been transplanted once. We do have some bottles that are just at the earliest stage. This is what they look like a month after the seeds have been planted.

ALLEN: They’re just green blotches. Transferring them from one container to another as they grow is a bit like building a ship in a bottle. Seated at a lab bench, volunteer Mike Reeve uses forceps to move each little shoot, one by one.

MIKE REEVE: They’ve grown well enough they’ve used the nutrients in this medium. So we’ve made up new bottles of fresh medium with the nutrients, and we’re transferring them into a fresh medium.

ALLEN: As they grow, the orchids are moved to a greenhouse. When they’re large enough – beginning this spring – volunteers, arborists, and others will begin putting them into trees throughout Miami. Fairchild director Lewis says the Million Orchid Project is part of a new direction in conservation, working not just in natural areas but where people live. Some of the orchids, he says, won’t survive. Others may be taken. But he’s confident the project will re-establish some of Florida’s most beautiful native plants back into the wild. Lewis says labs have already done this for other endangered species.

LEWIS: A classic example is the Venus flytrap that was hunted almost to extinction from the bogs of North Carolina. But now, there are micro-propagation labs producing them by the millions. You can buy them in supermarkets. No one has the incentive to go back and steal them from the wild, so the populations are actually recovering.

ALLEN: A million native plants established in local trees, Lewis hopes, will begin to do something similar for Florida’s native orchids. Greg Allen, NPR news, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Is Your Orchid an Epiphyte?

Author: Melanie Dearringer

Care and Culture, Growing Outdoors

Epiphytes are plants that grow anchored to other plants. They are non-parasitic and absorb their water and nutrients from the rain, air, and other debris that collects nearby. Epiphytes make up approximately 10% of all plant species and are common among bromeliads, ferns, orchids, and many more plant groups. Epiphytes have different care requirements than those of their terrestrial counterparts. So understanding exactly how they grow in the wild can help ensure that they receive the proper care in our homes and offices.

Epiphytes in the Wild

-Orchids in the wild

Most epiphytic orchids are found growing in tropical areas below the canopy of trees. They attach themselves high up in plants, typically trees, as a way to obtain more sunlight. Because their roots are not in the ground, epiphytic orchids have adapted to obtain water and nutrients differently than plants that grow with their roots buried in soil. They have thick, spongy roots that absorb and store water and nutrients from the sporadic rainfall to be used over time. Because natural rainfall isn’t a scheduled event, orchids have learned to adapt to wet and dry cycles. Additionally, some epiphytic orchids feature pseudobulbs, which specialize in water storage. Pseudobulbs help these plants better tolerate drought conditions.

How Natural Habitat Influences Care Requirements

  • Potting Medium: Because these orchids grow with their roots out of the ground, they can not be potted in regular potting soil. Orchids require a light, fast draining potting medium. You can find orchid specialty mixes anywhere orchids are sold.
  • Lighting: In their natural habitat, epiphytic orchids are often found in the shady understorage of trees. Too much direct light can cause the orchid’s leaves to burn.
  • Air Circulation: The air flow is naturally better high in the trees where these orchids live. Providing adequate air circulation for your orchid is an important part of its health. Poor air circulation can lead to deadly diseases.
  • Humidity: Humidity levels are higher in the tropical regions where most epiphytic orchids are found growing natively. The humidity helps regulate moisture and prevents them from drying out between rainfalls.

Orchids are a widely diverse group. Different genera come with their own set of specific care requirements. If you want to truly care for your orchid properly, you must know what kind of orchid you possess and do some research on that particular kind.

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