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Event to showcase wide variety of orchids

If you’re missing the joys of getting outside and playing with flowers, this weekend’s orchid show at Botanica could provide a winter antidote.

The nicely timed show by the Kansas Orchid Society will showcase a wide variety of the huge plant family that goes by the name orchid. And it will include a sale of orchids and supplies by three area and out-of-town vendors – Bird’s Botanicals of Kansas City, Tumbucktoo Orchids of Sedgwick and Prairie Orchids of El Dorado. Having blooming orchids around the house this season of standard time – may it pass quickly – could be an intriguing and pretty distraction.

Of course, many orchids don’t bloom all the time. Many need just the right conditions. But, as with outdoor plants, there are orchids that will fit your window exposures and temperatures and humidity level. The nice thing about garden-club shows is you can get the help to choose wisely.

And if you ask, you can also find orchids that bloom sequentially, that is, over and over again, said Sarah Pratt, vice president of the society.

One genus of long bloomers is the Bulbophyllum (bulb-oh-FILL-um).

“A lot of them are blooming this time of year,” Sarah said. Bless their hearts. In this they are unlike the common Phaelenopsis orchids, which bloom in the spring. Unless you pick one up at Dillons. That one would have come from Taiwan, Sarah said.

Most of the 2,000 species of Bulbophyllum smell good. Others, such as Bulbophyllum echinolabium (EH-kin-oh-LAY-bee-um), stink. So much for cinnamon-holly-pine aromatherapy this holiday season.

Sarah has one of these stinkers – pollinated not by butterflies or bees but by flies – and it won an Award of Merit at the Great Plains Judging Center of the American Orchid Society in Oklahoma City in the spring. It is still blooming, and if it looks good enough, Sarah plans to have it at the show today and Sunday at Botanica.

“Very few of them stink,” Sarah said. “This will really blow your socks off. I’m a veterinarian, so after long exposure to cow manure it smells very vaguely spicy to me.”

There will be some Bulbophyllums for sale at the show. They’re native to the tropics, so if you keep your thermostat at 75, they’ll be right at home with you.

“They tend to like some humidity. They like lots of water. If you tend to overwater, they are a good choice. You can get as elaborate as you want.”

The show this weekend will feature plants grown by orchid society members and perhaps by some growers from Oklahoma City and Kansas City.

“There are so many types and varieties, endless opportunities to explore – small to large, species and hybrids, warm-, cool- and intermediate-growing, weird and wonderful,” fragrant to stinky, Sarah said. “There will probably be more than a hundred different plants representing most of the major types on display. And many, many more on sale.”

If that sounds like a lot, don’t fall out of your slipper orchids. The Kansas Orchid Society will host a national show in Wichita in April. The spring meeting of the American Orchid Society, the Southwest Regional Orchid Growers Association, the International Phaelenopsis Alliance, the Pleurothallid Alliance and the Slipper Orchid Alliance will be “the big orchid show in the area for quite some time,” Sarah said. It will be open to the public from April 27 to April 29.

“They are an enthusiasm,” Sarah said of orchids. I could sure use one of those this time of year.