Perhaps you’ve always wanted to find out how orchids grow in the wild. Countless greens enthusiasts consider the orchid as one of the most cultivated plants that have ever existed. After all, it’s easy to fall in love with the vibrant colours of those delicate orchid blooms.
Orchids Around the World
If you’re not aware, there are around 25,000 to 30,000 orchid species worldwide, 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 humid mainly, 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). Tiger orchids could grow up to 25-feet, and one can usually find them in the wilderness of Southeast Asian countries that include Malaysia, the 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 can 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 confront extinction both in the United Kingdom 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 few examples of these 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 extended air. Moreover, they develop roots that red 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 one places them under a tree
Did you know that most orchid species tend to attach themselves to a tree? The attachment explains why they don’t need to have a special kind of planting media to thrive well in the wild. Once they’re attached to a tree, they get the nutrients they need from the air, sunlight, and 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 unique bark mixes that 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 attached to the pollinator’s body then transferred to the female reproductive organs of other orchids where seeds 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 regarding sunlight, temperature, and water.
Most orchid species prefer to grow in denser and more humid areas where the light is not too intense. Furthermore, 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. Besides providing your plants with the protection they need from harsh weather conditions such as heavy rains, blizzards, snow, sleet, hail, or high winds, having your hobby polytunnel will also keeps those pesky bugs and vermin at bay.
However, the best part of setting up a hobby polytunnels the freedom to tend to your tender plants regardless of the weather and the season. Polytunnel gardening allows you to extend your plant’s growing period and grow plants that aren’t even native to your region!
Since polytunnel gardening allows you to manipulate the growing conditions that your plants extend to, and 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 polytunnel gardening journey today!