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Coming Up Orchids

Enchanting Orchids

Photo by Elena Ray

The largest group of flowering plants in nature, orchids blend the minimalism of a tall, lithe stem with the surprising intrigue of an unabashed blossom. Staring into the freckled face of a Lady’s Slipper orchid that graces a side table or at the fluttery wing-like petals of a Butterfly Orchid poised on a bedroom armoire, it may not seem important that there are 25,000 identified species (and counting) and more than 120,000 orchid hybrids registered with the Royal Horticultural Society. A single orchid captivates like no other flower in history. That might be why orchids are second in sales behind only the less subtle poinsettia, according to the American Orchid Society Web site, Under the first-glance spell of an orchid, there’s a tendency to wonder if it can be real. While there are some lovely silk versions — designer Christopher Kennedy says he and other designers use A Floral Eye for Design for their “amazing fool-the-eye realistic pieces” — live orchids are fairly easy to maintain. Each type requires its own level of care, but, generally speaking, partial sunlight, a daytime temperature between 70 and 80 degrees (dropping to around 60 degrees at night), good ventilation, and watering once or twice a week depending on the climate should make for a happy orchid. Lee Thomas, owner of @HOM, uses them often in his home-staging business. In addition to being his favorite flower, he says orchids are a great way to add color to a room without going overboard. “I like them in the kitchen, dining room, or bathroom,” Thomas says. “They’re elegant, simplistic, and are perfect for contemporary decor with an Asian influence.” Orchids are available online through specialty greenhouses (;, or in decorative cachepots through bouquet-based companies (; and gift companies ( (If you plan to grow your own, Wild Orchid Company has produced a beautifully photographed book, The Gardeners’ Guide to Growing Hardy Perennial Orchids by William Mathis.) Locally, you can pick up a potted orchid at Trader Joe’s or give a call to Plants Plus, a client-based service specializing in interior and exterior plantscapes. “Palm Springs Flower Mart is a great place for orchids at close-to-wholesale prices,” Kennedy says, “while Moller’s Garden Center in Palm Desert carries very beautiful specimens, and the price reflects the quality.”

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