MANILA, AUGUST 6, 2011 (STAR) By Kelvin Neil B. Manubay (Photo - This orchid hybrid has our waling-waling (Euanthe sanderiana) as one of its parents. This type of orchid will be on display at the Orchid and Garden Show of the Philippine Orchid Society, Aug. 25 to Sept. 5, at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.)

MANILA, Philippines - Orchid growers and plant lovers think that they are one step ahead of everyone when it comes to green living just because they grow a lot of beautiful plants which contribute to improving the air quality in our environment.

Contrary to their belief, they are one of the biggest contributors to the destruction of our environment because of their continued and constant use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that poison our earth and pollute the air.

Frequent use of these chemicals may produce beautiful plants and blooms, but this poses a health hazard to human beings and all life forms. This is why organic gardening and farming are now being heavily promoted in the country.

Unfortunately, green living with a garden is not limited to composting and organic farming. Green living calls for a change in lifestyle with a conscious effort of conserving our natural resources and lessening our carbon footprint on Mother Earth.

For gardeners and orchid growers like me, it should start with knowing what plants we should grow. It has been a habit of many gardeners to buy just any plant that catches their fancy. It is very important to first understand the growing conditions of a certain plant before attempting to purchase it.

Many of the plants we buy suffer and die because of our lack of knowledge of their cultural needs. This is especially true of our orchid species which easily attracts attention because of their gorgeous and unusual blooms.

Remember that there are orchids that come from high elevation and need cooler temperatures and higher humidity, as opposed to those that come from the hot low lands. A plant transplanted into an inhospitable place will always suffer and die. So, before deciding to buy a plant, make sure you know its growing conditions and find out if it is suitable for your garden. Many valuable plants have been lost because of our ignorance of their needs.

[PHOTO - Hybrid Dendrobium orchids are very hardy and bloom very often, compared to orchid species. The Philippine Orchid Society will display the best of this season’s blooming orchids set in beautiful landscapes at its mid-year orchid show.]

This is why it is better to grow those hardy hybrids, which are more adaptable to different growing conditions. Buying those delicate and fragile orchid species only contributes to their further destruction.

By buying orchid hybrids we are able to preserve our species because we also stop patronizing those illegal orchid poachers who continuously destroy our forests. Besides, orchid hybrids are always a better choice because they come from selected strains with better blooms and blooming frequency.

Water is also one of our precious natural resources that gardeners always abuse. Most people think that orchids, and all plants for that matter, need to be watered every day at three times a day. That is obviously not true because no one waters the plants in our forests three times a day every day. And yet, plants in the forest survive with the occasional rains it receives.

The number one cause of death of an orchid in the garden is overwatering. In growing a green garden for orchids, it is better to recreate the environment of a forest where humidity and airflow are constant and where light is filtered well.

Learn to reuse and recycle water. Water used for washing clothes or kitchen utensils may be used to wet the flooring of your garden to increase the humidity. You may also use soapy water once in a while for watering your plants because it has a fungicidal and insecticidal effect on your orchids. And, when using a hose, attach a spray nozzle at the end with an automatic on and off handle to prevent spills and give you a more efficient means of watering your plants.

[PHOTO - Miniature Cattleya orchids can grow on a mixture of small stones and gravel instead of the usual charcoal. The POS is giving free daily lectures on environment-friendly ways of growing orchids at its mid-year show. For details. call the POS at 929-4425 or text 09178485468.]

Plastic pots and other plastic containers have now invaded many of our gardens. Plastic, as everyone knows by now, is an environmental hazard. Since they are non-biodegradable, they will still be in existence long after anyone of us has gone from this earth.

The most sensible thing to do is buy plants in clay or terra-cotta pots. But if you can’t avoid plastic, make sure you learn to reuse and recycle it. Orchids may look pretty in a pot, but they grow better attached to a tree or palm.

Also avoid buying orchids attached to tree fern slabs and tree fern posts. It takes decades for a tree fern to grow to maturity, but it only takes a few hours for an orchid poacher to cut them down to sell as a planting medium to orchid hobbyists.

When growing a garden, let us make sure that we do not harm and abuse the environment. It is best to educate ourselves on the proper and natural ways of growing our orchids and plants.

The best place to learn about this is at 65th Mid-Year Orchid and Garden Show of the Philippine Orchid Society, which will run from August 25 to September 5 at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

The orchid show, which is co-sponsored by the Quezon City government, will have the theme “Living Green with Orchids” and will feature the country’s best blooming orchids in landscaped exhibits, a grand orchid and plant bazaar, and free daily lectures on proper orchid and plant care.

The common ground orchid Spathoglottis plicata
is now being bred to give bigger blooms and better color.
They’re sturdier plants and frequent bloomers.

For more information call the Philippine Orchid Society Secretariat at tel. no. 929-4425 or cell phone number 09178485468.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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