Enthusiasts discuss pros and cons of orchid cultivation

Several species of orchids, thriving on trees, have depleted and several others are on the verge of extinction due to deforestation, opined Orchid cultivator Quinnie Lasrado. 

She took part as the resource person at a training programme on orchid cultivation, conducted by the department of Horticulture in association with Siri Thotagarika Sangha at the horticulture department Deputy Director’s office in Bendur on Friday.

Around 1,200 types of orchids grow in India. The climate of Western Ghats and North East support the growth of a rich variety of orchids.

Western Ghat alone houses around 275 varieties of orchids and the climate here is suitable for the orchids. Rhynchostylis, locally recognised as Seetha Mudi or Seethale, which thrives on trees, is found in abundant along the Shiradi Ghat. The orchid carries a legend behind it, that Seetha, consort of Lord Rama, used to adore her hair with the orchid which was later named after her.

Kodagu has 65 types of orchids. Also, the hybrid of orchids has been made possible through the tissue culture, so that they flower in all seasons. The climate of coastal area is the best suited for the more popular orchids, the Dendrobiums. Some orchids, which are not adaptable to the climate here, could be grown in an artificial environment. Orchids are not exported as they are considered as national assets, Quinnie Lasrado said.

She further said that orchids can be broadly classified into epiphytic and terrestrial. Also, there are Lithophytes, which grows on rocks.

One of the main varieties of orchids, Epiphytes, thrive on trees but they do not take nutrients from the trees but just cling on to the trees, without any organic connection with their hosts. They develop ariel roots which have the capacity to retain moisture. They are often mistaken for parasites. Dendrobiums and Oncidiums belong to Epiphytes category. Terrestrial orchids are those which grow on the ground. In Mangalore, there are around 12 species of the kind.

Quinnie also demonstrated the grafting technique of orchids and detailed upon the method of preparing pot mixture.

Horticulture department Deputy Director Praveen said that using the latest technology, one should try to cultivate orchids and should give importance to quality. First it should be taken as a hobby. It if goes well, later it could be commercialised.

Siri Thotagarika Sangha Vice President Lakshmi Rao Aroor, Joint Secretary K Nemiraj and Member Sharada Achar were present.

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