Jan 27 2023
Orchids are the largest plant family, with over 28,000 known species, and more are discovered every year! Of this large diversity, only a small number of orchids are cultivated. In the West, the cultivation of orchids as house plants grew out of 19th century European exploration, colonization, and plant collection, and was also connected to technological advances in greenhouse construction and glass production. By the early 20th century, orchids were fashionable, if still rare, plants to grow at home that were newly available to the middle class.
Today, advances in micropropagation and breeding programs have dramatically increased the affordability and accessability of orchids, such that orchids can now be enjoyed by everyone. Although these orchids are now widely available, many of their wild relatives are highly endangered. The New York Botanical Garden plays a major role in local and international conservation efforts, and museum collections such as the Steere Herbarium provide the raw data needed to impact conservation at a global scale.
Follow the stories below to learn about some of the most commonly cultivated, and most beautiful, of all orchids.