What’s new at the Orchid Show at the Missouri Botanical Garden?

What’s new at the Orchid Show at the Missouri Botanical Garden?

Just in time to save us from the silliness of winter, the annual orchid show returns to the Missouri Botanical Garden this weekend. The show, hosted at the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center’s Emerson Conservatory, opens Saturday, January 27, and runs through February 25.

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s orchid display is noteworthy among other botanical gardens because it houses its own collection, rather than new specimens purchased just for display. The permanent collection includes more than 5,000 plants and 700 species.

“We’ve been showing orchids since the early 1920s,” says Pat Skees, who supervises the flower show. “In St. Louis, I think of it as a tropical getaway and a tropical oasis in the middle of winter. Tropical plants give you that feeling.


The building is still fairly new, and part of the challenge for the show is getting used to it. “We are learning our space. It is a multi-faceted space, we host permanent collections and temporary performances,” says Skees. “We are learning how groups can coexist, and we are learning how people move through the space.”

For example, Mediterranean plants need cooler temperatures than tropical regions. Most plants permanently housed in a building like drier air, while orchids prefer humidity. It is important to know where people will want to walk and where they will want to stop to take photos.

“Everyone is used to the tropical oasis in the middle of winter and seeing our amazing collection,” says Skies. “We want to make sure we achieve that as well as being able to not disrupt the growth of the permanent collection.”

It’s a complex show to put together but it’s always a big draw. The display changes over the course of its run as different plants and species bloom, so it’s worth a visit more than once.

You can buy Phalaenopsis orchids in almost any flower department these days, so they’ve been demystified a bit. But the orchid display includes an amazing array of diverse plants, things you may not see anywhere else.

“Orchids are one of the largest families of flowering plants in the world,” says Skies. “With their somewhat quirky shapes, their unusual width, and their variety of sizes—anywhere from a pinhead to a football-sized flower—any flower lover or appreciator will be excited to see the collection. I love the unusual, and I appreciate the classic.”

(Marks for translation) Melissa Mainzer

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