Treat yourself to an orchid show

Carla Allen
Published on February 20, 2013

This Paphiopedilum hybrid resembles our native ladyslippers (Cypripedium sp) and is a type of tropical Old World ladyslipper.  

The Orchid Society of Nova Scotia and the Valley Orchid Growers are inviting you to step into the tropics for a one-day orchid show and sale at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens on Feb. 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you’ve never been to these botanical gardens and the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre, this is the perfect excuse to go.

Orchid grower Paul Cabilio told me a little about the show, which has been held since 2005 at the Irving centre. The first orchid show was in 2004 at a Wolfville school.

“There will be a variety of orchids on display grown by several growers in the Wolfville area (an informal group who call themselves the Valley Orchid Growers) and growers in the Halifax area,” he said.

Although the display orchids cannot be purchased, many of these types of orchids will be on sale as smaller, younger plants, most not in bloom.

“Such plants can be grown at home on windowsills, under plant lights or in heated sunrooms,” said Cabilio.

Other orchids (which will not be available for purchase) require greenhouses or very elaborate artificial light growing areas.

One of the vendors will be from Halifax. Some of the exhibitors may have plants for sale.

Gail Schwarz, president of the Orchid Society of Nova Scotia and an accredited judge for the American Orchid Society, will be giving a talk for new growers at the KC Irving Centre at 2 p.m.

Some of the easiest orchids to grow at home are Phalaenopsis (moth orchid), which is sold in supermarkets, hardware stores and similar places.

“These grow happily in temperature and light conditions in the home,” said Cabilio.

Other easy-to-cultivate orchids include smaller versions of Cattleya (the corsage orchid), certain Dendrobiums and various complex hybrids from the family of Odontoglossums.

All these plants require additional humidity, with some preferring warmer or cooler temperatures.

 Orchids form the second largest family of plants in the world, with 25,000 or more species. They can be found on all continents except Antarctica. They grow in all sorts of conditions, from mountaintops to bogs. Many are terrestrial and these are represented in both tropical and temperate regions.

In Nova Scotia, terrestrial orchids include the pink, yellow and showy lady slippers.