By Christina Chastain
The Missouri Botanical Garden has been having orchid shows since the early 1900s, and this year, the show is all about education for the home gardener.
The show is specifically focused on four genera: Cattleya, Cymbidium, Phalaenopsis, and Paphiopedilum, providing tips and tricks for the home gardener to care for their orchids.
“Each genus has its own little triggers to make it go into bloom, or spike,” said Pat Scace, Supervisor of Floral Display at the Missouri Botanical Garden. “We always try to have a strong education component to connect the mission of what we’re doing, and also the theme of the show.”
The Garden’s relationship with orchids has been a long one. Mrs. Henry T. Blow gave the first orchid specimens to Henry Shaw in 1876. Her collection was the result of plants collected in Brazil by her husband while he served as Minister to Brazil under President Grant.
Visitors of the Orchid Show can see the oldest orchid the Garden has to offer from 1898. It is not continuously in the show, but it does always make an appearance.
Today, the Garden’s permanent collection has roughly 7,000 orchids plants. During the show, visitors can see 400 to 500 orchids, depending on which ones are in bloom.
“What makes our collection really great is the fact that, it’s not only one of the largest, it is one of the oldest orchid collections of botanical gardens,” said Scace.
The Garden is proud to boast about the size of its orchid collection, and also its age, but the diversity of the collection should not be forgotten.
“The diversity is something else,” said Scace. “Seeing the orchids that mimic their pollinators, and the funky forms and shapes that they take on is my favorite part of our collection.”
The Orchid Show is also in its second year of hosting Orchid Nights, which offers lighted displays of the orchids, drinks, and live music.
Thursday, Feb. 28, enjoy libations from Edg-Clif Farms and Vineyard, August/Montelle Winery, Stumpy’s Sprits, Southwest Wines, Urban Chestnut, and Six Mile Bridge, as well as enjoy live entertainment by Dizzy Atmosphere.
“Everybody needs a shot in the arm this time of year, to see some flowers in a warm temperature kind of escape for a little bit,” said Scace. “Flowers make people happy, so it’s a great thing for the middle of winter.”
The Orchid Show runs until March 24. To view the digital visitors guide, click here.