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Book Review - Orchids by Joyce Stewart

Author Joyce Stewart, a well-known British author and speaker, has packed a lot of information into this small book, published by Timber Press. Intended as an introduction to the wonderful world of orchids, the book gives enough background to get someone interested in orchids without the use of intimidating technical jargon.

The opening chapters cover the history and conservation of orchids including hybridizing and tissue culturing. Naming conventions and orchid awards are also covered. A discussion of the various ways in which orchids grow in the wild includes terrestrial orchids, epiphytes and lithophytes.

The next few chapters delve into basic principles of orchid growing including temperature, humidity, fertilizing, drainage, watering and lighting. Greenhouse and windowsill growing are touched on, as is growing under artificial lighting. Containers, potting mixes, repotting, watering, feeding and rest periods round out Chapter 4. Propagation techniques are explained in Chapter 5 with text and very detailed line drawings. Included are nice descriptions of starting plants from seed, flasking, and meristem culturing.

A description of various orchid pests, diseases and other problems follows in the next section with suggestions for getting rid of these problems.

Chapter 8 gives a very brief rundown of orchids that are suitable in growing conditions other than in a greenhouse. Topics include native orchids that are hardy enough to remain outdoors, plants to grow in a cold frame and orchids that are suitable for patio pots.

The bulk of the remaining information is an alphabetical listing of some of the more common and available species and hybrid orchids. Each orchid profile includes the preferred growing temperature, flowering times and native location of the plants. The final sections of the book include lists of orchids that are suitable for various growing conditions, a nice glossary and a bibliography.

In closing, I would recommend this book to someone that is interested in finding out more about orchids and what is required to grow and flower them. The photography is beautiful and inspiring and the writing style is very user-friendly.


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