Perhaps you’ve always wanted to find out how orchids grow in the wild. Countless greens enthusiasts out there consider the orchid as one of the most sophisticated plants that have ever existed. After all, it’s easy to fall in love with the vibrant colors of those delicate orchid blooms.
Orchids Around the World
In case you’re not aware, there are around 25,000 to 30,000 orchid species around the world and you can find them practically anywhere except Antarctica. These plants thrive well in tropical areas such as the forests of New Guinea, Southeast Asia, and equatorial South America.
Although orchids are native to a tropical environment where the weather is mostly humid, they’ve also managed to adapt to colder temperatures. For this reason, don’t be surprised to see them growing in the Northern parts of Alaska.
The largest orchid species is called the tiger orchid (Grammatophyllum speciosum). This could grow up to 25-feet and is usually found in the wilderness of Southeast Asian countries that include Malaysia, Philippines, and Myanmar. Meanwhile, the smallest orchid species called the Platystele jungermannioides, which only measures 2.1mm wide, can be found in the forests of Ecuador.
Although these plants are able to adapt to their environment over time, they don’t handle drastic changes well. For instance, the effects of climate change have led to the loss of their habitat. As a result, orchids in the wild are being confronted with extinction both in the United States and abroad.
Facts About How Orchids Grow in the Wild
The next time you go on a wilderness adventure in another tropical country, don’t be surprised to see various types of orchids in the wild. Before you go, get a load of these orchid facts that you should know:
Fact #1. Not all orchids grow in soil
If there’s one thing you need to know about orchids, it’s the fact that not all of them grow in soil. The ones that do are called terrestrial orchids and a few examples of these include paphiopedilums and other cymbidiums. These terrestrial varieties grow well in humus-rich soil.
Most tropical orchids are epiphytic because rather than growing in soil, they attach themselves to tree bark and grow in the air. Moreover, they develop roots that are covered with a white substance called velamen, which works to absorb and store water. The orchid’s velamen also protects the roots from losing heat and moisture.
Attempting to grow epiphytes in the ground will only cause you to kill the plant. Furthermore, some orchids are aquatic while others are lithophytic, which means that they only grow on rocks.
Fact #2. They don’t need planting media when they’re placed under a tree
Did you know that most orchid species tend to attach themselves to a tree? This explains why they don’t need to have a special kind of planting media in order to thrive well in the wild. Once they’re attached to a tree, they get the nutrients that they need from the air, sunlight, as well as from natural rainwater.
If you want nothing more than to plant a prize orchid, you can either place it under a tree or plant it in special bark mixes that are specifically made for these types of plants.
Fact #3. Some orchids rely on insect pollinators
Orchids that grow in the wild reproduce in the same manner that other common garden varieties do – they rely on insect pollinators that include birds, moths, flies, bees, and butterflies. As these pollinators move from one orchid to another, they come in contact with the orchid’s pollinia or those waxy pollen sacs. The pollinia that were attached to the pollinator’s body are then transferred to the female reproductive organs of other orchids where seeds are produced.
Fact #4. Orchids can grow in two ways
Did you know that orchids can either grow as a monopodial or a sympodial? The monopodial orchid grows upward while the sympodial orchid grows horizontally. It’s important to note that different kinds of orchids have their own sets of unique needs in terms of sunlight, temperature, and water.
Most orchid species prefer to grow in denser and more humid areas where the light is not too intense. Furthermore, those that are native to tropical areas usually grow well when the temperature level is between 73˚F to 85˚, and when the humidity level is at 80% or 90%.
Benefits of Growing Plants in Greenhouses
Don’t let anything stop you from growing your orchids or any other plant in a hobby greenhouse. Aside from providing your plants with the protection that they need from harsh weather conditions such as heavy rains, blizzards, snow, sleet, hail, or high winds, having your own hobby greenhouse will also keep those pesky bugs and vermin at bay.
However, the best part of setting up a hobby greenhouse is the freedom to tend to your tender plants regardless of the weather and the season. Greenhouse gardening allows you to extend your plant’s growing period and grow plants that aren’t even native to your region!
Since greenhouse gardening allows you to manipulate the growing conditions that your plants are subjected to, you can have more control over the temperature, moisture, and light that you expose them to. In other words, you can create an ideal growing environment for your plant babies!
Take Away on Growing Orchids
Now that you finally figured out how orchids grow in the wild, you’re probably thinking about growing them in your very own hobby greenhouse. Embark on your greenhouse gardening journey today!