Terrestrial Orchids: From the Foot of the Woods to Your Home

The terrestrial orchid is one that lives in the soil or can be grown in deep pots, with a higher content of vegetable soil. Their roots are more moisture tolerant but still need well-drained and light soils.

In Brazil, there are few varieties, most of them brought from other countries. They can vary significantly in forms and modes of cultivation. Originating in the foothills of the forest, have roots that tolerate a little more moisture, compared with epiphytic orchids, but still, like light soil with plenty of organic matter. Ideally, they should be grown on a rich, well-dosed substrate, preferably composed of two parts vegetable fiber (ground coconut), two parts ago (dry moss), two parts pure vegetable soil and one part washed river sand.

This orchid species needs indirect light and protection from cold winds and abrupt temperature changes, however, can withstand colder winters such as those in southern and southeastern Brazil.

Paphiopedilum, pea jus, arundina (bamboo orchid) and cymbidium are examples of terrestrial orchids. Below, I will comment more about them.

The paphiopedilum, known as the Jewish slipper, or simply slipper ( see photo ), is an unusual orchid for sale in supermarkets and stores; however, it is part of the group of plants collected by aficionados, who often share seedlings, passing from one collection to another. Easier to find in interior homes, where gardens are created at the whims and wishes of their owners in order to retrieve family memories. Almost an old-fashioned plant, not because it lacks charm and beauty, but because it is a delicate plant with specific requirements.

Being a variety of terrestrial orchid, which generally tolerate mild climate and well-drained, fertile soil in organic matter, paphiopedilum need indirect light and protection from cold winds, abrupt changes in temperature, but supports winters between 10 the C and 25 o C, provided it is under a tree or in a flower bed protected from frost in the garden.

Perhaps the radicalization of climate through global warming, with increasingly abrupt changes in temperatures and rainfall, is one of the reasons for finding them less and less because when subjected to inadequate conditions, these orchids lose their leaves and remain dormant. , on the ground, almost invisible to inattentive eyes, expecting ideal terms of growth, which makes them very vulnerable to garden renovations and long periods of drought.

The cymbidium, another terrestrial orchid (pictured below), originates from cold places, such as the Himalayas, but is already acclimated to the Brazilian South and Southeast. It does not tolerate high temperatures all year round and blooms abundantly once a year, producing a long, arched stem with over twenty sturdy fleshy flowers. It is generally marketed in long conical vessels, which favor root drainage and moisture storage.

The terrestrial orchid variety known as phajus is more challenging to find. It produces a beautiful clump, with thin draped and lanceolate (spear-shaped) leaves, parallel-ribbed, of bamboo-like color. It blooms abundantly with large purple and pink flowers on individual stems. When planted in a pot, it needs at least half a cubic meter of soil, preferring large, well-drained pots, with the same mix for the cultivation given above.

Already the bamboo orchid produces stems up to one and a half meters, with pink and lilac flowers throughout the year. This species tolerates direct sun exposure well and can be used near social entrances, corridors, and indoor gardens. It creates a light and orderly clump and produces new seedlings during their flowering cycle: they are small buds that appear at the end of the flower stems and are very easy to plant. Just detach them with a little twist to break their connection to the original stem and place them in the ground. In less than a week, new roots will emerge.

Once a year, after flowering, these orchids need care against garden insects and mollusks. This is the time to clean old, wilted leaves as well as dry stalks, which should be cut at the base after drying with pruning shears. Fertilization should be done with a particular substrate for orchids.

And now that you can differentiate between orchid types and shapes find out more about the rarities of these unique plants at the next orchid fair near your home. Questions to growers can bring a new dimension to the theme. There are plants over five years old, cultivated only for the first flowering and others, which were hybridized year after year until reaching perfection between flowering, care, and resistance, an example of dedication and love to the plants.

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