Growing Orchids in WNC
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Bulbophyllum is a genus in the family Orchidaceae. It is considered the largest and most diverse genus in the orchid family. These plants are epiphytes and lithophytes in nature. Meaning that they don’t grow in soil but rather on a tree or on rocks. Characterized by short plump pseudobulbs and usually one oblong leaf atop the pseudobulb. Thin shallow roots covered with a thin tissue called velamen.
Listen to Assistant County Agent Isaac Wyatt discuss orchids on the Gardening in the Mountains Radio Show and Podcast:
These plants also have very interesting flower morphology. The flowers of the genus have a hinged labellum that is free moving. Often seen rocking in the wind. The hinged labellum has evolved to aid the orchid in pollination. When a pollinator lands on the labellum it “throws” the pollinator into the column of the orchid. Detaching the pollinia onto the pollinator. The pollinator will visit another flower and get thrown into its column achieving pollination.
These plants are also known for being extremely “fragrant”. Looking at Bulb. phalaenopsis the flower itself looks a lot like meat (figure 1). If you were in the presence of this flower, you would also smell a scent much like rotting meat. This is because many bulbophyllums are often pollinated by a fly. These orchids are also relatively easy to grow in your home.
Orchids are easy plants to grow in your home. With just a few simple tips you could have an orchid collection of your dreams. Below are just some extra photos of some orchids in my personal collection and a bit about them.