Discover an often overlooked Colombian orchid culture in Pereira and the Coffee Region.
Colombian Orchid Culture
The national flower of Colombia is Cattleya trianae. And Colombia, has more orchid species than any other part of the world. Behind the scenes of this world famous biodiversity are the people who love, cherish and cultivate the Orchids of Colombia.
Throughout Colombia orchid clubs, or associations, work to help preserve the integrity and quality of the thousands of species which grow here. All over Colombia, on a monthly basis are expositions which showcase the most exceptional plants cultivated by orchid growers and enthusiasts.
Be sure to check for orchid expos in whatever city you pass through!
My own personal interest in orchids stems from my “green thumb” talent with plants and gardens. My mother has always had gardens or plants which gave me a love for plants. In my own small collection, I have a Cattaleya trianae, Dendrobium nobile and Phaius tankerville; all of which are 2 Colombian orchid species and one Ecuadorian Cattaleya species. Sometimes they die, other times the plants flourish and get transplanted to bigger pots.
Colombian Orchids are intriguing, frustrating and at times complicated in their growth habits and needs. A grower might spend weeks or months or even years nurturing and caring for an orchid plant before it flowers for the first time. Every nutrient and care technique is employed in anticipation of the resulting beauty that will one day emerge.
Many different types of plants have unique and different requirements. Some will accept a colder rainier climate while others need a hot, humid and wet situation. Even the pH of the water can make or break an orchid plant.
In their natural habitats they grow along the edges of tropical forests and jungles. Some grow in shade, others grow in sunlight. They are large and small, sometimes even black, or strange hues of green, yellow, purple and any other shade imaginable. The people who grow them are a very aristocratic, proud and enthusiastic group of businessman, ranchers and even university professors. People from all walks of life, but who come together in their love for the flowers.
The Asociación Orquideologia de Risaralda
The Orchid Association of Pereira is the local influence of cultivation and help to protect and ensure the future of the many different species. They often meet at farms or nurseries. They might kick off a social outing with a shot of aguardiente, nurse it onward with a cup of coffee, hang on till lunch with a fresh picked mandarino, or sweet orange, lunch goes followed by an afternoon snack of pancitos (dinner roll) or empanada and stabilized by a glass of wine.
During the afternoon lecture, a speaker will enchant us with a flower based topic for hybridization, cultivation, species diversification and sharing of species. Later an auction, or subasta, is be held for well-cultivated plants where the price might range from $5-7 USD up to $50 or even $100 for rare, or sought after varieties.
Orchids in Colombia, are more than just a flower they are promoted and nourished by a group of people who are passionate about the furtherance and preservation, and by professional or private enterprises. For more information contact the Association Orquidelogia Risaraldense to learn more about how you can get involved.