French garden diary – Orchids

One of the problems encountered with orchid breeding was that orchid seed is difficult to germinate

Science behind orchids’ triumph. Cathy Thompson on micro-propagation plus how to care for indoor beauties

Have you ever asked yourself why orchids are so continuously – and cheaply – available in our supermarkets these days?

It is a far cry from my earliest experience of them – expensive, difficult to grow and very, very easy to kill.

But the orchids that many gardeners were experimenting with in the 20th century are light years in breeding away from those we can grow now.

The wide range of Phalaenopsis, or Moth Orchids, available is perhaps the most startling innovation.

Gone the days when you needed an expensive, shaded glasshouse heated consistently to between 18 and 21°C; failing that, an indoor terrarium, providing the continuous warmth and moist atmosphere they prefer, while avoiding  saturating and rotting the roots.

Thanks to breeding programmes, we have a range of hybrids that are ...

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