Propagating epiphytic orchids helps to preserve species and create plant stock to supply restoration projects. At the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens they mount epiphytic orchids onto Cork Oak (Quercus suber) bark using ladies tights!
"We use ladies tights to tie the specimens on. It may sound strange to some, but it really works. Nylon tights (cut into strips and tied together to make strings) will stretch and give, so that new growth is not damaged as the plants grow and establish. When we first started using tights, we had a problem getting enough of them. Regular requests went out to the entire garden for staff and volunteers to send in their old, used (and washed!) tights for the orchids, but we still didn’t have enough... Fortunately, a well known nylon stockings company heard of our plight and now regularly sends boxes of its factory rejected tights."
Once the specimens are lovingly prepared they are attached to vertical metal grills where they are cared for as a living display of international diversity.
Another living orchid display can be found in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. This garden has a Orchid Breeding & Conservation Biotechnology Laboratory that clones orchids and creates new and novel hybrids. The laboratory is complemented by a beautiful orchid garden that showcases a huge range of interesting species and hybrids.
As discussed in a previous blog, some of their native orchids are used for restoration projects around the city but they are also used to maintain Singapore's reputation as a beautiful orchid destination.
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I work with NZ's native vascular epiphytes at the University of Waikato. I completed an MSc on epiphyte ecology and the shrub epiphyte Griselinia lucida and have recently published the Field Guide to NZ's Epiphytes, Vines & Mistletoes.