We delve into the fascinating world of orchids, delicate and exotic flowers that have captivated hearts for centuries. Known for their stunning beauty, diversity, and symbolism, orchids hold a special place in the world of floral arrangements. We'll explore the rich history of orchids, their versatile uses in floral designs, and provide valuable insights on caring for orchid houseplants.
Flowers in Focus - Orchids
A Brief History of Orchids
Orchids, with their mesmerizing beauty, have enchanted civilizations for thousands of years, all the way back to 500BC - although the plant itself go back as far as 120 million years making them one of the oldest plants.
In ancient Greece, orchid flowers were linked to fertility and believed to influence the gender of unborn children. The tubers of certain orchid species were consumed in the hopes of influencing the outcome of pregnancies.
Romans admired orchids for their luxurious appeal, adorning their gardens and villas with these exotic blooms. Poets and artists found creative inspiration in their elegance.
The meaning of Orchids - Rare Beauty and Love
During the Victorian era in the 19th century, orchids experienced a huge surge in popularity. These floral trends were of course influenced by the rule of Queen Victoria and her love of flowers. This spilled over to influence popular culture with the excitement of botanical exploration from Joseph Banks, and other learned botanists on discovery expeditions around the globe to such far flung destinations such as New Zealand with its own unique flora and fauna.
As with other Flora obsessions of the times, such as The Victorian Language of Flowers, or Tulip Mania, this period was known as "Orchidelirium," witnessed a fervent obsession with orchids that spread across Europe and North America. Explorers embarked on treacherous expeditions to remote corners of the world in search of new orchid species. Collectors would pay exorbitant prices for rare orchids, leading to intense competition and a flourishing black market for these captivating blooms.
Gong Hei Fat Choy. In other cultures such as the Chinese Dynasties, the chinese revered delicate orchids as graceful symbols of good taste, refinement and purity, luxury and innocence. Orchids (laan fa in Cantonese or lánhuā in Mandarin, 蘭花); represent fertility and abundance. These luxurious and lucky qualities make Orchids a perfect gift for Lunar New Year, and orchid plants are available in Auckland for this special occasion.
Today, orchids continue to captivate with their beauty, showcased in exhibitions and botanical gardens. There are approximately 28,000 species and over 300,000 varieties among the 880 genera. Their rich history intertwines mythology, cultural significance, and botanical fascination.
Orchids symbolize love, luxury, and the delicate balance of nature. Their enduring popularity stems from their intricate beauty, unique forms, and a myriad of colors and patterns. Orchids have left an indelible mark on art, literature, and the human imagination.
The beauty of orchids lies not only in their individual allure but also in how they harmonize with other flowers and foliage in floral arrangements. The skillful combination of orchids with complementary elements creates captivating displays that demonstrate the essence of New Zealand's floral artistry.
Whether used as a focal point or incorporated into a mixed bouquet, orchids bring elegance and a touch of exoticism to any arrangement. Here are a few popular ways florists incorporate orchids into their creations:
Table Centerpieces: Orchids, with their graceful arching stems and vibrant colors, make exquisite floral centerpieces. A single orchid stem placed in a slender vase can create a visually stunning and minimalist display, while a grand arrangement with multiple varieties of orchids can become a showstopper at any event.
Bridal Bouquets: Orchids lend themselves exceptionally well to wedding bouquets, exuding sophistication and a sense of timeless beauty. Their delicate petals and subtle fragrance make them a favorite choice for brides seeking an air of romance and elegance on their special day.
Wrist Corsages and Boutonnieres: These beautiful blooms are perfect for creating delicate Orchid Corsages and Buttonholes. Their long-lasting blooms and variety of colors allow for endless creativity in crafting these small, wearable pieces of floral art. An orchid corsage is a popular option to wear today for School Balls & elegant functions.
In New Zealand, several orchid varieties are popular choices for floral arrangements due to their stunning appearance and availability. Here are a few orchid species commonly used in floral designs in New Zealand:
NZ grown Cymbidium Orchids: Cymbidium orchids are highly favored in New Zealand for their vibrant colors, long-lasting blooms, and versatility. They come in a wide range of hues, including white, pink, yellow, and green. Cymbidiums are often used as focal flowers in larger arrangements, adding a touch of elegance and exoticism.
Phalaenopsis Orchids (Moth Orchids): Phalaenopsis are beloved for their delicate beauty and ease of care. They have long arching stems with multiple blossoms in shades of white, pink, purple, and even yellow. Phalaenopsis orchids are popular in both standalone arrangements and mixed bouquets, adding a touch of sophistication to any floral design.
Dendrobium Orchids: Dendrobium orchids are known for their stunning colors and intricate petal patterns. These orchids have a wide range of shades, including white, purple, lavender, and pink. Dendrobiums are often used in modern and tropical-style arrangements, lending an exotic and captivating element.
Oncidium Orchids: Oncidiums, also known as dancing lady orchids, feature vibrant yellow, red, and pink flowers with intricate petal formations. They are highly sought after for their unique appearance and fragrance. Oncidiums are commonly used in mixed bouquets and tropical-themed arrangements, adding a burst of color and texture.
Paphiopedilum Orchids (Slipper Orchids): Slipper orchids are recognized for their striking, slipper-shaped blooms and diverse colors, including white, green, and various shades of pink and purple. These orchids are often used in elegant and exotic floral arrangements, providing a sense of intrigue and sophistication.
It's important to note that availability will vary depending on the season and local flower market. Click here to view which Orchids are in season throughout the year.
Cultivating orchids as houseplants requires specific care and attention. Here are some essential tips to ensure your orchid plants thrive:
Light and Temperature: Orchids prefer bright, indirect light, but they should be protected from intense midday sunlight. Depending on the species, they thrive in temperatures ranging from 15°C to 29°C. Avoid exposing them to drafts or sudden temperature changes.
Watering and Humidity: Orchids have unique watering requirements. Overwatering can be detrimental, so it's essential to strike the right balance. Allow the top inch of the potting medium to dry out before watering again. Mist the leaves occasionally or place the pot on a tray with pebbles and water to increase humidity levels.
Potting Medium and Fertilization: Orchids require a well-draining potting medium such as bark or sphagnum moss. Repot them every one to two years to provide fresh nutrients. Use a balanced orchid fertilizer according to the manufacturer's instructions to promote healthy growth and vibrant blooms.
Air Circulation: Orchids appreciate good air circulation. Avoid overcrowding them and ensure proper ventilation in their environment. This helps prevent the development of fungal diseases and encourages robust growth.
Orchids, with their rich history, intricate beauty, and graceful allure, continue to captivate floral enthusiasts and admirers alike.