Connect with us

Thai Life

Gardening: Erotic undertones of orchids

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

PHUKET: The epithet ‘sexy’ is much overused, not to say abused. It appears in contexts that have nothing to do with people’s erotic appetites at all. Inanimate objects can apparently fit the bill; cars, dishes or even flowers.

‘No Orchids For Miss Blandish’, a raunchy 1939 novel, invoked orchids in its title because author James Hadley Chase knew they possessed all the right credentials.

Thus Victorians were offended by the blatant sexuality of orchids. Ruskin called them ‘prurient apparitions’ while artist Georgia O’Keefe has frequently in her paintings depicted them as veiled representations of female genitalia. And it doesn’t stop there. The word comes from the Greek for testicle – a reference to the plant’s pseudobulbs – while the flowers emit chemicals (pheromones) to dupe insect pollinators into thinking they are mating with a female.

End of diversion. Previously, we soberly considered two varieties of orchid: phalaenopsis and dendrobium. There are many more though, for this is the largest family of flowering plants, with total species numbers around 25,000.

In the dense jungles of New Guinea and Sumatra, there are likely yet more undiscovered species. More cultivars constantly appear, as the orchid is the most widely hybridized of all plants.

Native to Central and South America, cattleya fits the general orchid mold. It is epiphytic. There are two basic types: two-leaved varieties, which produce clusters of smallish flowers at the top of the stem, and single-leaved ones, which beget fewer but substantially larger blooms; the prime target for cross- breeding.

Justifiably popular, these produce dramatic flowers in a bewildering range of colors ranging from deep magenta (‘Lucky Strike’) to pure white ‘Queen Sirikit’. A typical bloom has three sepals and three, usually broader petals. One petal is modified to form the characteristic lip, which is often in a different hue. Thus ‘Alma Kee’ is yellow with a startling red, frilly mouth. The flowers are fragrant and invariably last well: up to six weeks is normal.

Cattleyas need light to flourish but not full tropical sun. Morning light is especially appreciated, as is regular feeding with a liquid fertilizer. Re-potting should be done at least every two years, or when new growth reaches over the edge of the container.

Two other genera in the family of orchidaceae deserve a passing mention. Oncidium orchids, also epiphytic, have pseudobulbs which consist of double-leaved stems and sprays of showy, widely-spaced flowers, numbering up to a hundred, mostly in shades of brown or yellow. The sought-after ‘Dancing Dolls’ has long clusters of vivid yellow blooms.

Slipper orchids (paphiopedilum) were fashionable as house plants in my youth. Partly, I suspect, because they are terrestrial and grow – quite conventionally – in soil. Hailing from China and points south, they had a better chance of surviving in English drawing rooms.

Characteristically, they have leathery, often dramatically mottled leaves and flowers. The predominant color is white or cream with deep purple flecking. In the tropics, they need to be placed in a relatively cool and partly shaded location. Protect from tropical storms, and replace the potting mix at least once a year.

All orchids, like humans, enjoy a change.

If you have gardening or environmental concerns, contact Patrick at drpaccampbell@gmail.com. Many of his creative and academic publications can be found at his website: Green galoshes WordPress.

— Patrick Campbell

 

Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

Dole pineapple factory has 34 new Covid-19 cases, 413 total

Coronavirus (Covid-19)8 hours ago

Chinese Sinovac vaccine debuts in Singapore to high demand

Drugs9 hours ago

Drug smuggler caught in Kalasin with 300 kg of marijuana

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Politics10 hours ago

Amendment to reform Constitution rejected by Parliament

Medical11 hours ago

Gender Health Clinic opens in Bangkok for transgender needs

Coronavirus (Covid-19)14 hours ago

30 million baht added to vaccine side effects compensation fund

Coronavirus (Covid-19)15 hours ago

Plan for 16-week gap between AstraZeneca vaccines dropped

Coronavirus (Covid-19)16 hours ago

CCSA: 120 day reopening will proceed with conditions

Tourism17 hours ago

Sandbox latest, CCSA says all regions reopening must reach 70% local vaccination

Coronavirus (Covid-19)19 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Saturday: 3,667 new infections and 32 deaths

Politics20 hours ago

Thamanat elected to role of head ‘fixer’ in Palang Pracharat party

Expats1 day ago

List: China has over 50% of all foreign-owned condos in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Government plans 10 million vaccines for July

World1 day ago

Thailand News Today | Vaccine deaths investigation, PM heads to Phuket, BMA extends vendor licences | June 18

Thailand1 day ago

1 million AstraZeneca doses arrive, Anutin says “more” on the way

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending