Zygopetalum orchids are from a small group found in South America, where they grow as both epiphytes and terrestrials at very high altitudes. They are characterised by their exotic and dramatically coloured flowers, which can be deep purple, brown and maroon. The flowers are strongly perfumed.
Zygopetalum orchids are not stocked in shops and supermarkets to the same extent as other varieties of exotic orchids, but more and more hybrids are coming on to the market and they can be obtained from specialist garden centres and shops such as those at Kew Gardens (London) and Wisley (Surrey) from time to time.
Provided Zygopetalum orchids are not placed in overheated rooms and direct sunlight they are easy to keep and will flower frequently. Water them once a week. The flowers are not as long lasting as some of the other types of orchid but they are well worth the effort.
Other kinds of Orchids as House Plants...
By far the best way to water orchids is to place them in a sink or other container of lukewarm water which comes up to the top of their pots. Because they are not growing in densely packed soil or compost, the water will easily rise up from the bottom of the pots and saturate the roots. The plants should be left for several hours, or overnight, and the watering should be repeated on a weekly basis (although most plants will easily survive a 10 interval if you are away). At the same time as watering, spray the leaves with a fine water mist. Feeding should be kept to a minimum and stepped up only once new growth or flower shoots appear. Never overdo it – food is not high on the agenda of survival for plants that live perched up in trees with their roots exposed!
Yes, we have many native wild orchids throughout Europe and around 30 species in the UK. Most of them are rare, endangered or in serious decline due to the destruction of their natural habitats. They will not survive being dug up and moved either to gardens and greenhouses or to window ledges. It is also an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to dig up any wild plants without the landowner’s consent.
If you found this information helpful, we are sure you would also like books on the Wild Orchids of Wales, of The Burren, and of the Algarve. Author-signed copies are available here...
There are many local and national nature reserves where wild orchids can be seen at the right time of year, and the network of local Wildlife Trusts can advise you on the best time to visit and also arrange for you to take part in some of the many tours that they organise during peak flowering times.