Style Observer

SO Gardening Nov 11

Sunday, November 11, 2018

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Dear Orchid Doc:

I recently purchased a plant called Brassavola Little Stars. Can you tell me what the name stands for and how I should care for this plant?

Arlene

Dear Arlene:

The plant you have purchased is a Brassavola, which is in the Cattleya Alliance. Brassavola Little Stars is a popular hybrid, first made and registered by Ernest Hetherington of Stewart Orchids. Brassavola nodosa is commonly known as the lady-of-the-night orchid because of its evening fragrance, and the hybrid is equally blessed.

Provide lots of light year round; a summer sojourn outside would do the plant no harm. Many growers find Brassavola Little Stars a great subject for basket culture, although it can be grown in a shallow pot if you do not wish to cultivate it in a basket.

Dear Orchid Doc:

Are orchids fragrant?

Michelle

Dear Michelle:

Not all orchids are fragrant, but many are. A wonderful aspect of orchid fragrance is their range of scents. Some smell like other flowers (carnation, jasmine, gardenia, rose), while others have the scents of spices and foods (vanilla, citrus, clove, chocolate, coconut, licorice, honey, cinnamon, grape).

Some orchids even reek! These are orchids that are pollinated by flies and other insects attracted to carrion. Fortunately, very few orchids fall in this category and they're easy to pick out when selecting orchids from a grower's greenhouse.

Dear Orchid Doc:

Are orchids parasites?

Oneil

Dear Oneil

Orchids are not parasites. Some people, who have seen orchids growing in the wild in the tropics, have noticed that many of them are attached to the limbs and trunks of trees, so they make the assumption that, like mistletoe, orchids are parasites. Parasites, by definition, get their food at the expense of their host plants. This is not the case with orchids. They're merely using the trees or shrubs as places to grow. Orchids are often found in the crotches of the limbs where water and nutrients from roosting birds naturally accumulate. Orchids have roots that can absorb these nutrients, and the high perches in the trees afford them plenty of moist air circulation, natural rainfall, and exposure to sunlight.


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