flowers and foliage vanillacultivation collectibles Orchid species asian belt









The orchids are flowers of exquisite beauty and variety of patterns belong to one of the largest family, the Orchidaceae and constitute about 7% of all angiosperms and nearly 40% of monocotyledons. There are about 30,000 species in nearly 750 genera and more than 77,400 natural and man - made hybrids . The orchids are worldwide in distribution with greater concentration in tropical and subtropical regions of high humidity. In India, they form 9% of our flora; nearly 1,300 species in 140 genera dwell in the country with Himalayas as their main habitat and others scattered in eastern and western ghats. In general, the terrestrial orchids are more common in North-Western India and the epiphytic ones in North-Eastern India; the orchids in Western Ghats are usually with small flowers.

The orchids are highly heterozygous and their vegetative propagation through division is rather slow. They germinate very poorly in nature, because they require an appropriate fungus for the purpose. It is due to the difficulty in natural propagation that some of the indigenous species are becoming extinct .

The orchids represent the first floricultural crop successfully mass propagated through Tissue Culture technique and the commercial application of micropropagation is being increasingly realised in this group of great ornamentals.
Half of more than 200 commercial Tissue Culture laboratories, throughout the world, micropropagate orchids and have helped in revolutionising the orchid industry in several countries.

The orchids are marketed both as potted plants and as cut-flowers. In the past few years, the orchid trade has increased both in volume and value throughout the world. Presently, Taiwan are the largest producer of orchids for pot-plants under greenhouses; the orchids are grown in an area of about 196 ha .Over 125 million orchids were exported from the country

Many developing countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan , Phillipines, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia have established their own orchid Industries. A large export market is available if the products are right and marketed properly.

Bottlenecks in Production

Almost all areas which are in the tropics with high humidity are viable areas for commercial cultivation of Orchids.

Countries that have adopted orchids as a commercial crop include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Srilanka, India, Philipines, Indonesia, China , Australia and USA.

Fortunately, the tropics have all the potentials for development of a successful orchid industry on scientific basis; it has varied and suitable climate and almost all the important commercial varieties of orchids including those of Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Oncidiums Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, and Vanda can be grown for cut-flower production





Arachnis Maggie Oei
Aranthera James Storei
Aranthera Anne Black

In Singapore and Thailand , the orchids are grown in the shadehouse, in an area totaling more than 275 ha. In Thailand, the orchid cut-flower Industry has been the major foreign-exchange earner; it accounted for US $20 millions in 90,s and nearly $45 millions in 2005.
The increase in flower production in Netherlands, Central America, Mexico, Israel has been very significant in the past decade. Currently, however, there is a definite leveling off in these countries.
Even the traditional producers such as U.S.A., Germany, France, U.K. etc., have now become the largest importers of these products.


Orchids can be divide into two groups - monopodial or sympodial depending upon their habit of growth. Monopodial orchids such as Phalaenopsis, Renanthera and Vanda have a main stem which countrieas to grow year after as Cattleya, Cymbidium have a main Stem which terminates growth at the end of each season. A new shoot then grows from the base forming it's own bulbous stem called pseudo-bulb which eventually flowers.
The pseudo-bulb or thickened stem are very useful devices for the storage of food and water and function like bulbs.
In addition to the epiphytic orchids, there are also grounds orchids or terrestrial orchids which grow like ordinary plants with their roots in soil. Most of the temperate zone orchids are terrestrial and tropical orchids are epiphytes.

Orchid House:::
Orchids in nature grow protected from the tropical sun by the shades of trees. Under controlled condition the orchids can be grown in specially designed orchidaria or orchid houses, running North and South and made from materials like split bamboo, glass, fibre glass, etc. A central tank filled with water helps in increasing humidity .However, it must be clear that all types of orchids cannot be grown under one roof. While tropical orchid enjoy humid, warm atmosphere and burst into activity during rainy season, temperate orchid should be growing in cool houses. Orchids dislike sudden change in temperature, however a difference of 10oC - 20oC between day and night temperature is beneficial. The best suitable range is 18oC to 30oC, proper ventilation is must to provide fresh air and also helps in reducing the temperature.
There are also orchids which can be grown in open sun. Various terete leaves species of Vanda, Aranda , Arachnis, Renanthera etc. can be grown in open trenches filled with bark pieces, charcoal as is done in Ceylon Singapore and Thailand.

Indirect sunlight is idle for orchids. Seedlings requires less than adult plants. Very poor light tends to produce weak plants and retards flowering. A plant which has been grown in shades should be gradually be shifted to sunlight.
The optimum requirement of light varies between species to species. Cypripedium and Phalaenopsis require only 200-300 foot candles. Whereas genera like Vanda and Aranda thrive best under 800 foot-candles. Majority of orchids are day neutral and are not influenced by day length. But in Cattleya both short-day and long-day plants are met with.

Humidity / Watering.
Humid warm atmosphere is most essential for the growth of most of the tropical orchids, which do not have well established root system. It is a good idea to have a water tank or pool in the center of the orchidaria to maintain humidity, which should not be less than 30% at night and 80% during day time, The plants should be watered 2-3 times a day and should not be allowed to dry up during hot climate. Plants in active growth require more water. Similarly plants in baskets require more water than those in pots. Care should be taken to water the plants with a fine spray by using standard nozzles and not to hit the plants with powerful jets of water.
Plants which are freshly potted should be watered very sparingly till the new roots appear and watering should be gradually increased.

Pots / Container:
Orchids should be potted in small container/spots according to the size of the plants. As a thumb rule, orchids should be under potted to get more flowers. Any kind of pot/container which can hold medium and provide aeration is suitable. Most of the people prefer ceramic pots which retain moisture longer than plastic pots. Vandaceous and Sarcaenthene orchids can be grown in teak-wood baskets.
Orchid plants should not be disturbed frequently and repotting done only when absolutely necessary. Orchids like Cymbidium, react favourably when repotted after 2-3 years whereas Vandeceous orchids and Paphiopedilum should not be disturbed unless very necessary.
Terrestrial orchids, like Spathoglottis, Phaius and Calanthe, should be grown in 20-25 cm pots with 1:1:1 mixture of leaf mould, FYM and wood mix. For Paphiopedilum A mixture of 2 parts leaf mould, 2 parts wood mix and 1 part each of charcoal is recommended.
Chunks of hard-wood charcoal alone as potting substance were superior then eleven other potting media. Tree fern fibre also performed better than the other media while coconut husk and over-burnt brick as planting substance had adverse effects on growth and flowering of orchid plants. Some latest media tried for growing orchids are gravel jelly, fir bark, tree fern fibre and polyurethene foam.

In nature, orchids obtain their supply of inorganic nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, nitrogen and traces of manganese, boron, copper, zinc etc. from the tree on which they are growing and also from atmosphere and decaying vegetables and dropping of birds. However under controlled conditions they have to be supplied with all these major and minor nutrients.
Taking into consideration the special need of different orchids, a large number of fertilizer mixtures, both solid and liquid, are available in market. Liquid fertilizers are much more quickly absorbed and can be applied more frequently. As the orchids are slow growing, slow release fertilizers like osmocote can be used to get very good result. Usage of fertilizers should also depend on stage of growth. During vegetative growth, large quantities of nitrogen are required while during flowering, nitrogen should be reduced and amount of phosphate increased.

Diseases and Pests:
Like all other plants orchids are also pone to a number of diseases caused by fungi, virus, bacteria, insects and pests. The most common diseases in each group are :
Leaf spot - caused by Colletotrichum and Gleosporium
Leaf blight - caused by Pythium
Collar blotch - caused by Penicilium thomii
Collar rot - caused by Sclerotium
Orchid wilt - caused by Sclerotium rolfsli
Various fungicides like Captan, Dithane, Agrosan and Ceresan are very effective against these diseases.
More than 32 diseases are known to occur on orchids. In some cases the same virus has been known to produce more than one diseases in different species, the most common are Cymbidium mosaic virus .
As control measures all infected plants should be isolated to prevent spreading of the disease.

The most commonly reported insects pests on orchids are thrips, aphids, spidermite, soft scale, mealy bugs, orchid weevil, snail and slugs. These insects pests harm the plants in many ways. They feed on tender young shoot, suck the sap and damage the young bud and shoots and also act as the carrier of different diseases.
Fortunately all these can be controlled by effective insecticides like Parathion, Malathion, BHC, Aldrin, Dieldrin, etc. Metaldehyde has proved to be very effective in killing slugs and snails.

Orchids like other Horticultural crops, may be propagated either sexually or Asexually. Since most of the commercial orchids are highly heterozygous they are not raised through seed and are propagated through vegetative means to get true-to-type plants. Conventional methods like cuttings, division of shoots or Keikis, are followed along with mericloning through tissue-culture techniques.
Orchids like Aerides, Arachnis, Epidendrum, Renanthera, Phalaenopsis, Vanda and Dendrobium can be propagated by cutting. Orchids cutting are usually more bigger and should possesses one or more roots. Cutting are usually potted in propagation beds or directly in pots after treating the cut ends with fungicides to prevent rotting.
Cutting of genera, like Aerides, Arachnis, Vanda etc., are very hardy and can be directly potted in pots, whereas those of dendrobium and Phalaenopsis need special care to root and should be potted in propagation beds.
The propagation of orchids through cuttings is getting popular again and some of the nursery men like to propagate their orchids through cuttings to get uniform plants. The percentage of variation through this method is almost nil as compared to in vitro propagation through tissue culture. Further some orchids like Anaectochilus respond more to vegetative propagation through cutting than any other method.
Most of the sympodial orchids, like Coelogyne, Cattleya, Dendrobium and Cymbidium, are propogated through this method. The method involved consists of dividing large clumps into smaller units. However care should be taken not to divide the plants unless there are 8-10 pseudo-bulbs. Dendrobiums which are very fast growing can be divide every year.
Off-shoots and Keikis.
In some monopodial orchids like Ascocenda and Phalaenopsis, Keikis or off-shoots Emerge frequently on the main stem.. This usually happens when the apex has lost its effectiveness in suppressing axillary buds. In most of the commercial orchid nurseries topping of the stem is commonly practised to induce Keikis formation.
Induction of Keikis can also be induced through the use of cytokinins which forced the dormant bud to develop into keikis.
Aerial shoots.
Most of the dendrobiums produce aerial shoots or bulbs on old back bulbs devoid of leaves. They usually arise on the upper part of the back bulbs and grow out slowly. These aerial shoots take 90-120 days to develop roots. At this stage, they are detached along with the portion of back bulb and potted as independent plant.
In genera like Goodyera, Rhizomes gives off special lateral branches which turn up and produce aerial shoots. When they are properly rooted they get detached from the mother plant and establish separately.
Other methods.
In few genera, like Peristylus and Nervillia, the roots are produced from above the tubers, each of which ends in tubercle. These small tubers produce new plants the year after.
Vanda and other monopodial orchids can also be multiplied by air-layering or morcotage. A cut is given through the stem 20 to 30 cm below the apex and most sphagnum moss is wrapped around the cut portion. The rooting media is kept moist and once the root are formed, the layer is removed from the mother plant and potted in small-sized pots.

Export of cut flowers.
The cut flower industry in orchids is well established and the cut flower produced in tropical and sub-tropical regions are regularly exported to European and American countries. Singapore and Thailand export orchids to Europe, USA and Japan regularly.
In tropicals some of the genera, like Cymbidium, Paphiopedilum, Vanda, Arachnis and Dendrobium, can be grown on a large scale for cut flower production. Only those species should be selected for commercial flower production which flower in winter and spring as it is only during those months that India can capture the European and American markets. The best time of the year to export flowers to temperate regions is from December to May. The main pre-requisites of developing a successful orchid cut flower industry are
(1) Attractiveness and long shelf life of flower.
(2) High productivity and right season of bloom and
(3) Easy in packing and transporting.
Although the major aim for the development of orchid industry should be export oriented, the domestic market should not be neglected as the demand for orchid cut flower is likely to increase. Further action needs to be taken on the following lines.
Introduction of exotic hybrids.
Instead of depending solely on the old hybrids it is recommended that a large number of modern hybrids which are used for cut flower production should be bred.
The procedure for the introduction of plants material should be simplified and the import of hybrids can be easily done with a good study.

Flowers have captured a remarkable place in modern culture. So there is a latent demand for flowers especially with regards to orchids as they keep very well and a plethora of choices in flower form and colour.

With major markets located in Holland, Switzerland, Germany, France, UK, USA, and Japan… The activity has tremendous potential to expand the selected products to several areas in the coming years.
The advantage of location benefits, labour expenses and cost of cheaper inputs can propel a farm to produce quality at a better International market price.


Orchids are popular cutflowers in the world. The cut flowers are used in bouquet, wreathe and in other flower arrangements. Flowers have become a part of the human life in many developed countries. The indications are that the consumption will grow leaps and bounds in developing countries too. Overall, the demand for flowers is projected to grow substantially in the coming years. Orchids by virtue of their unique position in cut flower trade is expected to be in limelight with its demand growing more than that of other flowers.

When does an Orchid-Dendrobium Bloom ?
The first blooms appear on a psudobulb that is almost 6 leaves and above and
when the height of the bulb reaches around 15 cms approx..
So for all technical reasons the plant is a bloomer from Medium size. For
professional cutflower production the stem size has to become 6-8 mm and this takes almost 16 -18 month in the life cycle.
Regarding small Baby plants they are usually called at the age of 6 months from Flask reopening..
The Flasks are the starting points..Usually only an experienced grower has the ability to open the flasks and sustain growth as you need a hardening chamber. Only a grower with atleast 5-6 years growing experience can handle flasks. Because the deflasking operation is an art . The mortality is very heavy if you are not experienced. Some times you lose all the plants after the first week of opening..There are several stages in it..
Several growers have several techniques to tackle it and the process is
known as Hardening.. Once the plants are hardened then they are ready to start their Journey. Plant Hardening is the most important phase of the plant where it starts to become a performer for life. That is why there are people who specialises it as an art..
From compots to Individual pots .....................
It is always better to buy seedlings as they are ready for growth. Mortality is very low in seedlings as they are ready to grow..
Still seedling stage is a very critical stage; crown and psudobulb
rot....One can lose plants Just because of careless handling of Water to
temperature and feeding..Even a few degree change can affect the
plants...Light can affect the plant..

Once the plant crosses the seedling stage the plant becomes a bloomer and as it ages 6 months it becomes middle age.
The next 6 month period is for it to grow in to Medium size when the plant throws new Pseudobulbs..that are production oriented.

How long does an orchid bloom?

Prime production is the stage from 2 -4 years age..
Mostly good growers select Small and Medium sizes ... Blooming size also is very tough as the plant gets into DORMANCY if unattended or due to bad cultural faults.
Most of the time it is very important to save time in Business.. Hence the
Job of maintaining the plants through different stages is passed on to each value added chain of growers and thus saving the time to get the best out of the blooming stages.

Hence Some of the Upmarket growers adopt the style of procuring Ready plants and converting them to Production plants..
This gives the lead it needs to be a heavy Bloomer.. that itself takes quiet a
practice to do !! The point here is that One needs a lot of learning as a grower and several stages are there to practice. There are Value added Rewards at every stage.. When you are cutflower grower you put your energies to get the best flower time and again .....

How to arrive at a pricing strategy of cut stems?

Dendrobiums usually produce 2-3 active pseudobulbs in an year.. Each pseudobulb of a size approx equivalent of 12 inches and above produces an adult spike of thickness of stem 6 -8 mm and with 15- 20 flowers arranged in a stem. Usually Spikes which proceed towards High-light remain straight and also if staked/supported properly.
Each adult bulb produces an average of 4 and above flower spikes.
The pseudobulb growth completes when around 10 leaves are formed.
The Bulb produces its first flower after a period of 60- 80 days growth at its apex. Consequent flower initiation takes place in a span of 15 to 20 days subsequently. So the Bulb in its active growth is in flowering for around 80 days to 120 days.
The New growth starts at the end of the flowering phase when the third or fourth flower stem gets initiated. So One can easily assume that the growth period of a flower stem to be around 35-50 Days.

Assuming that we have the means to earn the extravalue from the flower we can start value adding at the post Harvest stage. But for every $ value added there is an expense of 60 % as out sourced raw materials...which might mean New packing styles, bought out foliages, Communication and other expenses, Market Promotion expenses, agent fees, Cost of setting up floral shops etc..

Where do we sell ?
External markets and local markets

We need an infrastructure to move the goods to their destinations in time…The Logistics chain starts right from the airport to the RETAIL shops where they are dispensed to the customers..
We need to look at Product Differentiation and presentation and also Buyer education if we have to retain the best.
An educated market understands----- color, form, shelf life, stalk length, petal hardness, keeping qualities.,better product for better price leading to better return on a good product mix..

If the grower intelligently applies the logic of the market and customer choices to his wares certainly he is arrived..

We as a grower have the responsibility to get the best value for the product and also get it to the customer in time and of a quality equaling as if it were in the plant..
Also in reality the demand is high in certain periods of the year .
If we follow the calendar of events in an year we will understand that the week of Valentine day consumes more flowers than the 2 nd week of JAN or 2nd week of May.



Japan, Australia, Europe, Switzerland and USA are some of the major buyers of the Orchid cut flowers. By participation in international Orchid shows and exhibitions, awareness of our quality productions can be enhanced. As the flower fashions change, the availability of the varieties fluctuates. In fact, the world of cut flowers is like any other big business. It changes to keep up with customers demand, and it innovates and develops its techniques of productions.

The real emphasis is on export and re-export of cut flowers. So it is the requirement of the overseas market that governs productions. Growers and exporters look for the types of orchid that the customers desire, usually by choice of colors and form. Presently, the trend is for lighter colors with small round petals. However, the trend may change just as with fashion.
Therefore more durable criteria that the growers and exporters use in evaluating their commercial Orchids for cut flowers are that blooms must last for more than a week after cutting, the plant must be fast and easy growing, it must be resistant to pests and diseases and it must produce at least eight to ten saleable flower sprays per annum.
Quality control is essential. It has to be taken into account at every stage, because production can be only by as good as the weakest link.
Quality control could be broken down into these heads.

· Selecting the right hybrid for commercial use.
· Good method of tissue culture for clonal propagation.
· Proper shading and cultivation density.
· Proper skill and technical knowledge in cultivation from healthy seed lings to productive plants.
· Good from Hygiene with a non polluted water supply
· Correct pre and post harvesting care, with good packing methods, including proper cutting and refreshing stems.
· Quick and efficient transportation and handling.

Cultivation techniques can affect the quality and durability of the flower sprays. Each hybrid needs different cultivation and care. Orchids may not be difficult to grow, but to have reliability high quality standard blooms is difficult as even variation is the weather that can affect the standard and grade. Orchids are sensitive flowers.
Orchids for export have to be packed in suitable ways to preserves their lasting qualities and freshness. Packing should be immediate to minimize water loss, but the blooms may need first to be dried to prevent water droplets on the bloom doing damage or causing fungus problems. The packing procedure involves cutting the end of the stem at 45% slant with a sharp blade. The stems should then be instantly put into individual water tubes or moist cotton swabs and wrapped, a few at a time, in perforated polythene with ventilation. The sprays need to be protected with corrugated cartons for export.
Documentation for export depends on the importing country's requirements. Usually a phyto sanitary certificate is needed to declare that the Orchids are free from pests and diseases. Sometimes an export permit under CITES may be needed to declare that thew flower are free from artificially propagated plants and not from the wild.
Which Orchid are grown depends upon the different overseas markets and their respective seasonal demands. Oncidiums and Pastel dendrobiums are good for the Japanese market. They have many gift receiving occasions such as Mother's day, Valentine's day, year-end gifts, respect for the aged, Summer gifts, White day, Boys and Girls day.
There is also good demand during the wedding months of May, June and December, and during the prayer month of Obon, which falls in July in Tokyo and August in Osaka. European countries take more Vandaceous Orchids, such as the Arandas and Mokaras and the demand goes up during Christmas. Unfortunately in non-seasonal climate, it is hard to cope with seasonal fluctuations in demand, however atleast the plants flower the year round and are not restricted to a single season.

In the long run, a breeding program tailored to seasonal demands might produce a range of Orchids blooming respectively at peak periods, but the lag time in developments of this nature is rather long. Infact the time lag depends also on the confidence of the growers in an new hybrid. It depends on whether or not the hybrid is field tested. Without a field test, it is about three years from tissue culture to blooming, and this allows a relatively quicker reaction to market trends, assuming the hybrid is available in the first place. If field testing is carried out, this doubles the time., This method, which only applies tissue culture to the selected best plants in the initial batch is safe or fool proof, as it is a trial of both production and marketability. However the disadvantage is that the market trend may have changed by the time the tested strain comes on to the market in real quantities.
Exporting orchids to countries like the USA, Canada and the Nordic countries of Europe initially will be tough owing to the high freight cost. But exploring the markets of Korea, Taiwan and Hongkong , where freight charges are low. But the markets in these countries are used to competetive priced orchids usually from Thailand.

How does one cope up on the markets?
Will by partly attending shows. Flower shows are many, But Good orchid shows are few. Growers and exporters attend shows to exchange information and ideas, and to learn the trends and try to keep pace with the latest technology. The few shows that Orchid growers and exporters attend are the ASIAN ORCHID SHOW, The PACIFIC ORCHID CONFERENCES, The FLORIDEA in Holland, The Tokyo Orchid show, The Florrissimo in France and the orchid shows in Neighbouring Asian countries of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Further Detailing:::

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