Guest Author - Susan Taylor
Believe it or not, you can grow native orchids in your gardens if you pick out those which grow in your area and you can provide them the right conditions. The most important point to remember is that you should never dig up wild orchids. It is virtually impossible to keep a dug up orchid alive once it is removed from its native environment and when it is done another rare and beautiful plant gets closer to extinction. This is one of the biggest dangers to our native plants. When wild populations are found they are often kept in strict secrecy because of the chance that they will be poached by those who want to sell them. Only buy from reputable dealers and ask to make sure that they are grown from seed in laboratory conditions.
There are a number of nurseries which now grow native orchids from seed to sell to those who can provide them a home. It is hoped that more and more people will become interested in trying to grow these natives so that the gene pool can be expanded and keep the plants from disappearing entirely.
Unlike hybrids which are bred for ease of growing and flowering, it is necessary to do a lot of research into which natives might work in your garden. One of the best groups in North America is Native Orchid Conservation Inc.. A very active group with a lot of knowledge is the Slipper Orchid Alliance which has information about the Cypripedium orchids which are one of the most showy and widely distributed of the wild orchids. Australia has a large organization, the Australian Native Orchid Society, which provides information and conservation materials to those interested in their native orchids.
Florida, which has most species of native orchids in the United States, has its own site with information on their native orchids Florida's Native and Naturalized Orchids and The Florida Native Native Plant Society which has a great database of plants, including orchids, which grow in the various counties in Florida. Many of the descriptions include sources for plants.
If you are both a gardener and an orchid grower, this is a great way to help out our native plants as well as introduce new and interesting plants to your garden. Many orchid societies are working with their state forestry organizations to grow and reintroduce native orchids to locations which have lost their original native populations. Growing these natives is a great way to help out and introduce friends, neighbors and families to the fact that orchids are not only tropical plants.