Orchids On the Rise

By Charlie Nardozzi

What was once considered the flower of experts and royalty is now one of the most popular and widely available potted plants. "Orchids are the third most popular potted plant, behind poinsettias and chrysanthemums," says Ned Nash, director of Education and Conservation at the American Orchid Society. They're the fastest-growing garden product in many home centers and are widely available in garden centers across the country, or by mail.

A combination of better growing technology, rebuilding of the Florida tropical foliage industry after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and expanded exports from the largest orchid-producing nations, including Singapore and Holland, has led to an abundance of reasonably priced orchids. The most popular is the moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) for its ease of growing indoors and long flowering period. "For $25, orchids will flower longer than any other flowering potted plant you can buy at that price," says Nash. "They'll flower for weeks and are easier to coax into reblooming than most indoor flowering plants." When considering a gift this holiday season, don't shy away from the simple elegance of orchids.

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