Some of my readers have asked whether it is possible to grow native orchids, or where they can get some to grow. The unfortunate fact is that many of the orchids have not been propagated, and those that can be grown tend to difficult to keep alive.
Being an orchid enthusiast, and loving to see these flowers, I have tried to grow some of them.
An orchid in the pot does have the advantage that you can choose the background…
...and sometimes allow you to take shots that are not possibly in the wild, as these orchids don’t grow in open areas, and are very small and difficult to get underneath them!
The unfortunate fact is that most of the time, it has not been entirely successful. All the orchid growers say that it is easy to grown orchids, but… have you seen their greenhouses? Virtually they are running a laboratory for growing orchids, with the right sunlight, and the right amount of water, and these aren’t usually cheap to set up. Here is an article about setting up the right conditions for growing Epiphytes.
There are several species of orchids that I have never seen in propagation. These include: the Hyacinth orchid (Dipodium sp.) or any other species that does not have leaves including the Cinnamon Bells (Gastrodia sp.), everyone’s favourite the duck orchid (Caleana major or Paraceleana sp.), any of the swamp orchids (Spiranthes and Cryptostylis) or even the bearded orchid (Caladenia).
Sorry, you can’t grow these! 😦
The difficulty behind growing orchids makes it even harder to re-introduce orchids into the wild, and stresses the point that it is important to protect the remaining bushland. Unfortunately, because Adelaide is relatively flat most of the land has been cleared for agriculture, but there are still a few pockets of native vegetation left, and quite often these are threatened by weeds
But it is important to remember:
No part of an orchid can be collected from the wild!
So if you are really desperate to try growing orchids, start with one of the easier species like one of the green-hoods (Pterostylis nutans or P. curta) or a Microtis sp, except its flowers aren’t very obvious.
Terrestrial orchids won’t normally be found for sale in nurseries. There are a few specialised growers in South Australia, and around Australia, so if you are interested, it probably would be best to contact your local Australian Orchid Club! Often they will also provide information on the conditions you need, and will be able to help with any difficulties that are faced along the way.
Orchid shows can be a chance to see some of the orchids that the growers have succeeded with, but usually they show their best specimens. Here are a few pictures I took at the Native Orchid Society of South Australian’s meeting in spring, so you can see what the “professionals grow”. (This is the only time you will see me using a flash – indoor photography 🙂 )
My observation is that the orchids that are propagated tend to have larger flowers than those in the wild, but that is probably due to the growers providing favourable conditions for them.
It is now the beginning of March, and I was very delighted to find that my Microtis are up already. (They are a desperate attempt to hopefully keep some orchids alive for a few years. I’m told they grow like weeds!)
Hopefully they survive the season, don’t get over/under watered, eaten…