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Spread more spontaneously in the tropical regions of America and South-East Asia where their characteristic habitat is the warm-humid forest, the orchids are now readily available in many gardens and, at a fairly low price, can enrich the our houses with elegance and a certain touch of eccentricity.
There are various species that, with due care and attention, can live for a long time indoors, provided that they are given the right doses of brightness and humidity and that they are planted in transparent vases to favor the regular development of the roots.
First of all we must remember:
Phalaenopsis or moth orchid that blooms at various times of the year and whose flowers, of a delicate pinkish white color, often originate from the same ear. This is why it is important, when the first wilted flowers appear on the plant, to prune them right under them;
the Cattleya, whose genus has about 50 species and that comes from South America. This orchid, whose name derives from the English grower Sir William Cattley, who exhibited it for the first time in an exhibition, owes its characteristic trait to the fleshy leaves of a beautiful bright green but above all to the flowers that sprout on the plant, single or on stem in number of 4-5, in conspicuous size and in lively shades ranging from pink to white, from yellow to orange and red;
Other apartment species
the Paphiopedilum or Pantofola di Venere, a terrestrial genus that is rarely epiphytic, that is to say growing on trees, whose beauty is due both to the peculiarity of the leaves and of the flowers. The former in fact, leathery and persistent, can be mottled or shiny green while the latter, very decorative, can last up to two months and include a particular apparatus, the labellum, shaped like a slipper. This sort of bag, to which the plant owes its name, constitutes a trap for insects, which once entered can only come out of a very narrow opening, covering themselves in this way with pollen which, transported on another flower, ends up fertilizing it ;
the Miltonia, so named by the English orchid enthusiast Lord Fitz William Molton, and whose genre is currently divided according to its origin, Brazil or Perщ-Colombia. The Miltonia orchids that come from Brazil have unique green flowers, spotted with purple or brown and with star-shaped petals, while those originating from the Andean forests of Perщ or Colombia, the so-called Miltoniopsis, for their resemblance to violets of the thought are called pansy orchids. They are however also splendid plants with gray or light green leaves and flowers of bright colors pleasantly scented.
Our description of the species of orchids that can be easily cultivated in an apartment cannot fail to include Vanda, originating from certain areas of Asia, particularly India, China and Indonesia. The name of this orchid has indeed Indian origins and means "pleasing to people for its perfume, shape and color". The particularity of this species of apartment lies in the ribbon-like leaves and the large roots that grow free in the air and therefore make it indispensable to cultivate not in pots but in wooden baskets that ensure the same conditions necessary for their development. The orchids of the Vanda species are not easy to find but once in their possession they will charm you with their tiny or huge flowers in all the colors of the rainbow.
The less delicate and more resistant orchid plants coming from temperate climate regions can optimally vegetate even in open spaces, be they gardens, terraces or balconies.
Among these species, it is worth mentioning:
the Cymbidium, among all the orchids, the most commonly cultivated and available also in supermarkets, and whose name, which in Greek means boat, indicates the shape of the labellum. The success and popularity of this species derives from its great ability to adapt even to the freshest climates and this thanks to its origin from the subtropical zone of the Himalayan chain. This beautiful species has long spike-shaped inflorescences and produces flowers in various colors, from yellow to pink and from white to green in a single color or mottled;
the Cypripedium, extremely adaptable also to high mountain climates since it requires cool summer temperatures and tolerates even fairly harsh winters, is among the most beautiful orchids in shape, flower size, colors and fragrances. Like the Phapiopedilum species the flower, of striking dimensions, is equipped with a scarp-shaped lip;
the Bletilla, native to the Far East (China and Japan), with small flowers but numerous products on a single stem, of fuchsia color but also white. Beautiful are also the leaves that resemble those of tropical plants both for the emerald green color and for the shape;
the Pleione, coming from the sub-tropical mountainous areas of South-East Asia (China and Nepal), of small dimensions and with only one flower from white to purple and a frayed and unique labellum. The genus to which the Pleione belongs includes a grouping of species in fairly small numbers, no more than twenty, and this clearly differentiates it from all other kinds of orchids.
Orchid plants: Italian wild orchids
Among the thousands of species present throughout the world it is necessary to include also those that in Italy vegetate in the spontaneous state and are widely distributed throughout the peninsula, from the high mountains to the coastal areas and to the islands. They are characterized by smaller dimensions than those of tropical origin but do not disfigure as to the particularity of the forms and beauty and vivacity of the colors of the flowers.
The most representative genres are:
the genus Orchis, which is the one from which derives the name of the entire family of orchids, the species of which are almost completely devoid of nectar and although having the labellum this is empty. To attract pollinating insects, they therefore use particular forms of mimicry with similar flowers that produce nectar instead;
the genus Ophris, which includes a large number of species that grow from sea level up to 1200-1300 meters of altitude. Peculiarity of the orchids belonging to this genus is that they imitate the hairiness, the shape and the colors of some insects for which the males, so attracted, carry out a pseudocopulation that puts them in contact with the pollen.
Italian wild orchids are a great botanical treasure for our country which, however, can easily disappear if their habitat continues to change and if they do not put a brake on their indiscriminate collection. This is why we should be content only to admire them, if we want them to always delight us with their beauty.