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Book Review - 100 Orchids for the American Gardener

At first glance, you might think that this book is a limited resource since it only covers information regarding 100 very specific orchid species or hybrid plants. Read on, though, and you will find relevant information for many orchid plants.

The 100 orchids mentioned in the book’s title include plants from most of the major orchid genera and are commonly available to orchid hobbyists. The fact that C. Bob Betts ‘White Lightning’ is one of the specific plants featured doesn’t mean that the basic cultural recommendations are not useful to anyone growing a plant from the Cattleya alliance.

The first sections of the book cover basic orchid care and requirements. One of my favorite chapters is “Creating an Orchid Garden”. Author Elvin McDonald gives his recommendations for buying that all-important first orchid and where to place it when you get it home. Windowsills, electric-light stands, window greenhouses, slat houses and full-size greenhouses are all mentioned as possible growing areas.

Next is a section on the basic care and upkeep of your orchids. Included are potting materials, pots, how and when to repot, dormancy, fertilizing, diseases and insect control. Several paragraphs of troubleshooting help round out this section.

And finally, the heart of the book, the Field Guide to 100 orchids. Information included for each featured plant includes, type, growth habit, origins of the plant, bloom season, fertilizer recommendations and size details. Light, temperature, humidity and watering needs are also given for each plant. Each plant is featured in a two-page spread with the cultural information on the left and a full-page photograph on the right. The gorgeous photographs are one of the best features of this book. The clean, light background really shows off the beautiful form and flowers of each plant.

Obviously, space doesn’t permit me to give a list of all 100 plants, but I will take the liberty of featuring a few of my personal favorites. There are several Ascocenda hybrids, Aspasia lunata, Brassavola nodosa, several members of the Cattleya alliance, Cymbidium Golden Elf ‘Sundust’, Dendrobium species and hybrids, Encyclia cochleata, Laelia species and hybrids, Masdevallia Marguerite, Oncidium Sharry Baby, Paphiopedilum Maudiae, Phalaenopsis, Phragmipedium, Vanda and Zygopetalum

The last section is a brief listing of mail order sources for orchids and a glossary of some common orchid related terminology.

This list highlights just a few of the featured plants. I don’t think you’ll be sorry if you add this book to your orchid library.

This book is available for purchase from Amazon.com.

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