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The orchid family is one of the largest among the plants with more than 35 000 botanical species disseminated throughout our planet. Their height vary from 5 millimeters to five meters. They are characterized by two growing modes. Firstly, the sympodial mode which allows the plant to grow from a horizontal rhizome;the plant can be divided when cutting the rhizome. Sometimes, a dumpy stem can be seen , it is a pseudobulb. Its function is to accumulate food and water. Secondly, the monopodial mode which has a vertical rhizome beginning at the lower leaves. The monopodial plants are very difficult to propagate by cutting the rhizome due to an almost impossible division.
EPIPHYTIC PLANTS Orchids can be epiphytes (they grow on other vegetals), litophytes (on rocks), terrestrials or semi-terrestrials. They are certainly not parasite plants: their roots are perfectly adapted to use their natural environment resources in an optimal manner. Most orchids are grown in pots with bark, tree fern roots, osmund fiber, sphagnum moss, or a mix of these materials. Some species are grown as epiphytes, simply mounted on a bark slab or tree fern roots plaque. Each genus has different needs when it comes to light. Fertilizer dosage must be changed in accordance of the growth, the dormancy state or to stimulate the blooming. The growing medium must be kept wet and contain the proper elements so as to allow a good air circulation within the pot; but the bulb and the new growth are always at risk of rotting and thus may be taken care of. In order to prevent any parasites infestation, the environment must be kept clean as well as the growing pots and tutors should be steririlized.
FLOWERING Most orchids types bloom once the year, with flowers of a good longevity. The triggering of the floraison is often linked to variations of lightning and temperature. The flowers use the most ingenious means to delude the pollinators, by imitation, chemical or visual enticement, or by provocation. The flowers of the orchid are composed from three sepales and three petals, of which the one is modified in lip (labelle). This one is often curled and colored to attract the pollinisatuers towards the stamens and the pistil, soldered in an organ called column. It is this structure that characterizes the orchids.
BUYING When buying orchids, choose only sane, well potted, and well identified specimens. Some disease could appear later, so it would be wiser to put your new acquisitions in quarantine during a six weeks or months period. Buying plant sold by well-known producers and artificially propagated contributes to orchids preservation in their natural habitat. Collecting orchids in nature - even in small number and for well intended collectors purposes - leads directly to the extinction of species in some areas. Moreover, as in their habitats these plants grow in perfect symbiosis with microscopic fungi they do not survive transplantation.
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