Thursday, July 7, 2011

Costa Rica's Love Affair With Orchids

Orchids seem to be on display everywhere you go in Costa Rica.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to learn, then, that an orchid is actually Costa Rica's national flower.  Known as Cattleya skinneri (or guaria morada), this orchid blooms from mid-March through mid-May (see picture below). You may sometimes hear the guaria morada referred to as the Easter orchid, since they are a popular decoration during the Easter holidays.

Costa Rica is said to have some 1,400 identified orchid species.  At just about any time of year, you can find dozens of orchid species in bloom throughout the country.  Interestingly, some flowers will bloom for only one day, while the flowers of others will last several weeks.

Many Costa Ricans enjoy growing orchids in their own homes and yards. Take, for instance, my future-mother-in-law, who recently bought a few plants and is planning on propagating them so that she can someday sell the resulting flowers in order to make a little extra income (see pics of some of her orchids below).  She told me she paid about $10 U.S. per plant, although I've heard that certain rarer orchids in the country can go for as much as $100 per plant!

If you want to see orchids when you visit Costa Rica, the following parks, that are dedicated exclusively to orchid-growing, may interest you:

1.  The Botanical Orchid Garden.  This garden in the La Garita area displays some 75 native orchid species, as well as 75 exotics. Educational tours offered by the garden staff are described as "fascinating".

2.  Jardin de la Guarias.  This orchid garden in the Palmares area is a private orchid collection with some 180 species on display.   The best time to visit is said to be February to April, when the place explodes in color.

Of course, you can also find orchids on display in many of Costa Rica's other nature parks, such as the ones we saw in the orchid houses at the amazing La Paz Waterfall Gardens Park (see my sister's pic with these park's orchids below). I'm curious to see if my future mother-in-law will stick with her orchid growing idea, and if it will prove to be a lucrative source of income for her.  I may just have to join in the fun if that turns out to be the case:)

Guaria Morada Orchid, Costa Rica's National Flower

My future mom-in-law's (Dunia) new orchids

A Closer view of Dunia's Orchids

My sister posing with the orchids at Costa Rica's La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Learn More About Growing Orchids:

Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic PlantsOrchids For Dummies

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