Photo: South Florida Sun Sentinel

“The delicate Florida Butterfly orchid, decimated by development and illegal collection over the past century, is about to make a comeback in Palm Beach County.

Students at 12 schools have been attaching them to trees on their campuses, where they are expected to flourish unimpeded over the next six months. Several businesses and clubs are also propagating the fragrant plants, creating a potential native orchid renaissance that is already spreading through South Florida.

The flowers are budding as part of the Million Orchid Project, a plan developed by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables to replenish South Florida’s native orchids in urban settings…

The Million Orchid Project started in 2012, after Fairchild garden officials observed a similar propagation project in Singapore, said Jason Downing, a Fairchild conservation biologist. Now four sites in Miami-Dade are growing the plants and introducing them to native trees, making sure to attach only orchids that are native to the area and won’t crowd out local native flora, he said…


Orchids are a colorful group of flowering plants made up of petals, sepals and lips. There are about 30,000 varieties.

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Coral Gables began the Million Orchid Project in 2012. The garden wants to replenish the wild orchid population that has been decimated by theft and development.

Orchids can be grown at home. Many people make the mistake of overwatering them. They need a south or east-facing window and a balanced fertilizer, according to the American Orchid Society.

Pine Jog Environmental Center is planning to release an orchid-growing kit later this year called OrKit.”

— Lois K. Solomon, South Florida Sun Sentinel

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