Eco-friendly exotic orchids

March 5, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Spring is in bloom at Fort Mason, literally, at the 57th Annual Pacific Orchid Exposition. House Doctor Lisa Quinn visited with Dennis Westler, "The Orchid Doctor," for everything you need to know about how to grow and keep eco-friendly exotic orchids as house plants.

About The 57th Annual Pacific Orchid Exposition
"Green... With Envy"!

Orchid facts:

· Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants.

· There are more than 25,000 documented orchid species throughout the world, and more are being discovered every day.

· Although generally thought of as a tropical plant, orchids grow on every continent, in every climate, from the Arctic Circle to the southernmost jungle (except Antarctica).

· The smallest orchid is the size of a dime, while the largest weigh several hundred pounds.

· The vanilla orchid (and its vanilla bean) is the only commercially grown orchid crop. (Vanilla planifolia)

· Orchids have the tiniest seeds in the world, making them a challenge to grow and cultivate, and there can be up to 3 million seeds in a single orchid seedpod.

· There can be up to 3 million seeds in a single orchid seedpod.

· It takes patience to grow an orchid - the plant's first flowers won't appear until at least 5 to 7 years after germination.

· Some orchid flowers bloom for mere hours, while others last up to half a year.

· Orchid flowers always grow upside down when mature.

· Orchid plants can live to be up to 100 years old.

· Orchids have become one of the most popular houseplants of all time, recently surpassing even the popularity of African Violets.

· The symbolic significance of the orchid in China is that of refinement, friendship, perfection, numerous progeny, all things feminine, noble and elegant.

Did you know...

· The name "orchid" comes from the Greek root orkhis, meaning "testicle."

· John Lindley is considered the father of orchid cultivation.

· In their natural environment, each orchid species is dependent upon a specific type of insect to carry out its pollination.

· There are two principal types of orchids: terrestrials, which feature extensive below-ground root systems, and epiphytes, characterized by their aerial or exposed root structure.

· Before their true nature was understood, epiphytic orchids were thought of as parasitic plants impossible to grow under controlled conditions.

Event information:

Fort Mason Center's Festival Pavillon
March 5-8, 2009
Gala Benefit Preview, Thursday, March 5, 2009, 6:30-10:00 p.m.
Friday, March 6, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 7, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 8, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Cost: Preview Night: $35 in advance / $40 at the door, General Admission: $12 in advance/ $14 at the door, Seniors: $8 in advance / $10 at the door, Kids 12 & Under Free when accompanied by an adult (except at preview night)

For more information, call 415.665.2468 or visit

About Dennis Westler, The Orchid Doctor:
Known throughout the country as the Orchid Doctor, Dennis has been educating people about orchids for decades. His goal is to increase orchid enthusiasm and knowledge by helping people see they can grow Orchids, and grow them well.

Dennis is an orchid expert and has been featured on 60 minutes, Martha Stewart Radio and in the San Francisco Chronicle. He also appeared on "The Coastal Gardener" with Dave Egbert last year. The cool thing about Dennis is that he can explain scientific and beneficial aspects of orchids without all the jargon.