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Book Review - The Gardener's Guide to Growing Orchids

The Gardener's Guide to Growing Orchids is the latest offering from Wilma and Brian Rittershausen, second-generation orchid growers and authors from the U.K. This experience shows in their thorough presentation of orchid growing techniques.

This book begins with an introduction to orchids covering the various general plant forms, habitats and history of cultivation. The line drawings illustrating the various orchid parts are especially helpful.

The cultural information begins with a comprehensive chapter on greenhouse growing of orchids. Suggestions are given for planning the location, orientation and style of a greenhouse. Heating, heat conservation, shade, temperature ranges, humidity and ventilation considerations are covered in this chapter.

The chapter entitled Cultivating and Propagating Orchids gets to the heart of the matter and gives concrete suggestions on proper watering, fertilizers, potting and propagation. The section on repotting includes helpful ideas from planting on cork rafts or in wooden slat baskets.

Orchids in the Home is an all too brief chapter with tips on orchid growing without a greenhouse. Choosing the proper orchid species, location and proper water are key to successful indoor orchid growth. Next is a chapter on pest and diseases. Several problems are described, but without the benefit of photographs to give examples of the damage that can be caused. A brief chapter follows giving tips and suggestions for preparing your orchid plants for show displays.

By far the largest portion of the book is devoted to An A-Z of Orchids. Approximately 80 pages are given over to describing many of the most popular species plants. The more popular genera are described in greatest detail, with Cattleya, Cymbidiums, Dendrobium and Paphiopedilums receiving understandably lengthy sections. Not every species is photographed, but there are plenty of pictures throughout the book to illustrate the various types of orchids. Double-width, color plates are especially nicely done and highlight many beautiful blossoms.

Appendices include a short glossary and bibliography of suggested books. Overall, this is another fine work by the Rittershausens and Timber Press and will make a nice addition to your orchid bookshelf.

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