Orchids for Christmas

Orchid on my window sill © Karen Andrews

Orchids are popular as Christmas gifts. They generally have a reputation for being difficult to look after. Phalaenopsis is recommended for the first-time Orchid grower. It tolerates centrally-heated homes. I received the above pink Orchid as a gift in August and it is still flowering profusely at we approach Christmas.

Low Allergenic

Orchids offer a huge advantage to allergy-sufferers as an indoor pot plant. They are cleverly designed to attract insect pollinators for cross pollination. Their pollen is very sticky. It artfully attaches itself to pollinators and consequently does not blow about. Orchids rank a low one out of ten score on the OPALS (Ogren Plant Allergy Scale). There is no sacrifice in beauty to bring these low-allergenic plants into the home.

Family and Genera

The Orchid family or Orchidaceae is the largest family of vascular plants with around 26,460 species, over 750 species and five subfamilies. There are over 100,000 cultivars. Many are epiphytes that would grow on trees in the wild. The most popular ornamental genera are Cattleya, Cymbidium, Oncidium, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum and Vanda.

Tropical Luxury

Orchids were the status symbol plant of the 19th Century. No self-respecting Victorian estate was considered complete without its own tropical glasshouse filled with exotic Orchids. The invention of the Wardian case ensured that Orchids could survive the journey to Europe. Orchidmania seems undiminished today. The difference is that Orchids are now a tropical luxury that we can all enjoy in our homes.

References and Further Reading

  • Christenhusz, Maarten J. M. & Fay, Michael F. & Chase, Mark W. (2017): Plants of the World. An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Vascular Plants. Kew Publishing.
  • Country Gardener (2020): How ‘orchid mania’ gripped the Victorians. 7 January 2020.
  • Ogren, Thomas Leo (2015): The Allergy-Fighting Garden. Stop Asthma and Allergies with Smart Landscaping. Ten Speed Press.

Copyright Note

Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.

© Karen Andrews 2018 onwards. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Andrews and BotanyKaren.net with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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