On The Orchid Trail

Till recently considered exotic and hard to come by, orchids are now being grown in Bangalore that has the right temperature as more people are smitten by the flower

If there was one flower that stood out as a clear winner at the Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens during its flower show, it was the exotic orchid. And if experts are to be believed the demand for them has increased dramatically in the past few decades.
Valued for their long shelf life, orchids have become very popular in the cut flower industry and are now being cultivated all over the city. Ecologists say about one in every 15 plants is an orchid, thereby constituting about nine percent of the earth’s flora.
To date, almost one lakh orchid hybrids have been created across the world. In India, one finds references in ancient Sanskrit literature from the Vedic period, including texts such as ‘Nighantus’ and ‘Amaroksha’.
Back in the present, however, the flower show at Lal Bagh saw two stalls that were flooded with orchid fans – Indo-American Hybrid Seeds and Belmont Orchids flooded with customers.
Jayaprakash of Indam Seeds (Garden Centre) said, “We got a fantastic response from our customers. Being in great demand, many orchids are imported from Thailand and Malaysia while other species such as Emma Whik and Phillipinensis Manilla are cultivated here.”
Manjula Ramakrishna from one of the retail outlets said, “Orchids range from Rs 300 to Rs 1500 and popular species are dendrobium, cattleya, oncidium and phalaenopsil. As they stay longer, people don’t mind spending a little extra on these flowers. Also, the higher end orchids have prettier colours and very pleasing fragrances.” 
Most orchid lovers will tell you that price is never a factor. PV Devasaya from Belmont Orchids corroborates that. “Most customers, while buying orchids, don’t have budget. Many go for the most expensive ones — they easily go up to Rs 1,500. Phallanops and anthuriums are the most expensive ones and I get them from Holland and Germany.”
It’s not just flower buyers who throw caution to the winds where orchids are concerned. The flowers have inspired a whole spate of growers.
“I don’t know about others but I am very fascinated by orchids and their long-lasting beauty. It’s worth putting money into growing it as they add beauty to your living space,” says Preeti Jain.
Another such customer, Nisha Singh says, “I think orchids are flowers of heaven. Their beauty intoxicates me and adds a smile to my face.” The flowers seem to be the perfect gift for romance as well. Rishi Das said, “My wife loves orchids; it drives her crazy and I really find them very romantic. The colour itself tells a lot about the flower. It is just so pure and so aesthetic. I chose a pink one for her.”
Rohit Kulkarni, senior manager, at Karuturi Networks, one of Asia’s largest flower exporters said, “The plants are mainly imported from Thailand and Malaysia. In India, mass growing actually happens only in Kerala to some extent. It is still to catch on in other places.” 
What makes India perfect for these exotic flowers is the country’s conducive weather. Harish Bhatt, a scientist at the Indian Institute of Science, said, “Orchids grow well in the Western Ghats. Exotic orchids are cultivated in Bangalore too as the climate here is favourable. Both wild and cultivated types grow here. They’re used largely for decoration and in the bouquet industry.”
Explaining their popularity and presence in India, Harish said, “The flowers came to India quite a few decades ago and gained popularity due to exchange programmes at international levels. Used widely now in the cut-flower industry, people have started farming these flowers recognising their commercial viability.”


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