Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic Plants by William Cullina, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic Plants

Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic Plants

by William Cullina
     
 

Orchids are the largest family of plants in the world. With 30,000 known species, you could acquire a different orchid every day for eighty years and still not grow them all. Back in the realm of reality, readers of this beautiful book can quickly and easily find the orchids that are right for them -- which ones will thrive on a windowsill, which prefer artificial

Overview


Orchids are the largest family of plants in the world. With 30,000 known species, you could acquire a different orchid every day for eighty years and still not grow them all. Back in the realm of reality, readers of this beautiful book can quickly and easily find the orchids that are right for them -- which ones will thrive on a windowsill, which prefer artificial lights, and which need a greenhouse; which are for beginners, which for experts. And you can pinpoint the species within a particular genus that are the best ones to start with. Once you select your orchid, William Cullina's authoritative guide explains what to do to keep it alive and healthy.
Featuring more than two hundred color photographs, Understanding Orchids covers everything you need to know to grow orchids successfully, whatever your level of interest or experience. With improved tissue-culture techniques making orchids more affordable, and the Internet making them readily available to consumers, growing orchids is more popular than ever: membership in the American Orchid Society has more than doubled in the last fifteen years. This is the book orchid fans have been waiting for.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Cullina . . . is extremely well versed in his subject and a skilled writer. His lively text, with its clear instructions, will make orchid growing as irresistible to readers as it is to Cullina." Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Cullina has maintained a personal collection of orchids for decades, and still gets "that spine tingling, toe-tickling feeling of WOW" from an unfamiliar or outstanding specimen. It's a feeling he's eager to share with "orchid lovers at every level of expertise, from absolute beginner to experienced grower to expert." He succeeds in addressing such a broad audience by organizing his work into independent modules that can be consulted as needed. The first portion covers basic orchid information: detailed guides to growing them on a windowsill, under lights, in a greenhouse or outdoors, and practical advice on meeting their requirements for light, temperature, humidity and air movement in each of those settings. Cullina then systematically examines orchid culture, with in-depth discussions of watering, fertilization, potting and mounting, and pests and diseases. A brief but fascinating overview of orchid reproduction follows, with directions for hand pollinating, propagating and hybridizing. Finally, Cullina meticulously examines more than 100 of the most popular genera. Happily, a good number of these seductively described plants are rated for beginners (the other skill level ratings are experienced and expert). Cullina, who directs the New England Wild Flower Society, is extremely well versed in his subject and a skilled writer. His lively text, with its clear instructions, will make orchid growing as irresistible to readers as it is to Cullina. 300 color photos. (Nov. 9) Forecast: A tie-in with Cullina's lecture tour and promos at top orchid shows guarantee strong initial sales. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Unlike other recently published orchid cultivation guides, which are primarily picture books with cursory horticultural information, this one by professional horticulturist and former orchid nursery owner Cullina (Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines) is thorough and comprehensive. Offered in clear and engaging text are orchid basics, including watering, feeding, growing environments, and pest control, as well as encyclopedic descriptions of over 100 commonly grown genera. In addition, the author treats the fundamentals of orchid raising and advanced topics like water-quality improvement and a critical comparison of specialized potting media, which expert growers will find useful. As the book is written for orchid growing indoors or in greenhouses, there isn't much information about outdoor cultivation, which readers in the milder parts of the United States perhaps would like to have. The only comparable resource is Home Orchid Growing (1990) by the recently deceased doyenne of orchid horticulture, Rebecca Tyson Northen; this title is a worthy successor to that most authoritative guide and a most invaluable addition to any gardening collection.-Brian Lym, City Coll. of San Francisco Lib. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618263264
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
11/09/2004
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
198,333
Product dimensions:
8.58(w) x 10.98(h) x 0.79(d)

Read an Excerpt


Introduction

Learning to grow orchids and understand their idiosyncrasies is a true journey.
The sheer number of orchid species—estimates range from 25,000 to 35,000 worldwide, not to mention some 40,000 hybrids—means there will always be new plants to explore, new friends to make.
You could start acquiring an orchid a day when you were twenty and still not have grown them all when you turned eighty! No other family of plants offers us inquisitive humans such overwhelming diversity.
Orchids are a world unto themselves, and I think the almost limitless potential for discovery is one key to their phenomenal popularity. Even after twenty years of growing orchids, whenever I see a new one or a particularly well grown specimen, I still get that spine-tingling, toe-tickling feeling of WOW that hooked me in the beginning.
If you are just starting out with orchids, you are in for quite an adventure.

How to Use This Book

My goal is to lead you on that adventure, and because I am writing for orchid lovers at every level of expertise, from absolute beginner to experienced grower to expert, you may find that some parts of the book are not pertinent at this time.
Here’s how the text is organized.

Part One contains all of the information you’ll need to choose a place where your plants will grow well, whether on a windowsill, under lights, in a greenhouse, or outdoors. Here you’ll learn about light, temperature, and humidity, the basics of good orchid culture. I have tried whenever possible to explain concepts in a straightforward way in plain English.
However, I recommend that you become familiar with some of the terms listed in the glossary, which are in bold type the first time they’re used in the text.
After a while, the meaning of words like “pseudobulb” and “velamen” and “footcandle” will become second nature to you.

Part Two, “Care and Feeding,” delves into the topics of watering, potting, fertilizing, and dealing with pests and diseases, as well as troubleshooting when your plants have problems.
All of this information will help you keep your orchids thriving for years to come.

Part Three, “Orchid Reproduction,” covers more specialized topics. Although you don’t have to understand the mechanics of evolution, pollination, and hybridization to grow orchids, these chapters give you more background and context about this amazing family.

Part Four focuses on one hundred of the most commonly grown groups (genera) of tropical orchids, covering in detail the general cultural advice given in Parts One and Two. From Angraecum to Zygopetalum, this section describes each genus, explains which species are easiest for beginners, and includes anecdotes and growing hints that will help you decide which orchids are right for you.

The appendixes at the back of the book contain useful information about botanical terminology, orchid resources on the Web and orchid organizations, and awards. There is also a glossary of terms and a list of books for further reference.
This book is based largely on my own experience, along with that of people who, in person or in print, have been my mentors over the years. I cringe to think about it, but I always learn as much from my mistakes as from my successes. I truly hate to kill an orchid, partly because each one is so darned expensive, but mostly because I probably could have saved it had I known a bit more.With that in mind, I offer here what I have learned, in the hope that you will be able to learn from my mistakes as well as my successes.

No doubt some people will take exception to my advice, for there is more than one way to pot an orchid. Take my words as a guide or a starting point, but, most of all, be observant, patient, and caring, and the orchids will teach you well. Of course I am biased, but I think you will find that there is no more magical, fascinating, and only occasionally frustrating family of plants than the Orchidaceae. I raise my watering can to you and offer this toast: “May your roots be long, your pseudobulbs fat, and your flowers all the colors of the rainbow.”

Copyright © 2004 by William Cullina.
Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Meet the Author


WILLIAM CULLINA, for many years the propagator at the New England Wild Flower Society, is the author of four major Houghton Mifflin gardening books. He is currently plant and arden curator at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, where he is developing a world-class botanical garden.

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