Mounting orchids adds visual appeal

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Adding epiphytes to your landscape is a sure-fire way to introduce a quintessential tropical look. Conservation-minded gardeners using native plants need not be left out – Florida is home to as many as 100 species of native epiphytes! Your first step in incorporating epiphytes is to find a suitable host. Trees are best, but wooden arbors, posts, and even rocks can be considered, just make sure that the site you choose is in bright partial sunlight and can be reached by a watering hose. Oak trees or other trees with a furrowed bark are ideal for planting epiphytes on, but not all trees are good candidates. Trees with a dense canopy like Magnolias and figs can be too dark, and trees with an exfoliating (peeling) bark like Eucalyptus and native gumbo limbo can be difficult for epiphytes to grab onto. READ MORE.

The word, epiphyte, is derived from two Greek terms, epi- and phyte, literally meaning “that which is found above or on a plant.” The term is not exclusively botanical and can broadly include epiphytic snails on grasses! However, among botanists, the term refers to plants that perch on other plants.

Orchids are the epiphytes most people can relate to, but there are other species in this plant category such as ferns, gesneriads and bromeliads. What are some other examples of epiphytes apropos to the mission of Selby Gardens? Members of the pineapple family, bromeliads are abundant epiphytes through the New World tropics. Their overlapping rosettes of leaves often form tanks or cisterns of water high off the forest floor and provide important aquatic habitats for insects and frogs. The orchid family, perhaps the largest family of flowering plants on Earth, contains numerous, even spectacular, epiphytes! Other epiphytic plants include ferns, liverworts, philodendrons and other aroids, even cacti (e.g., Christmas cactus) high up in tropical forest canopies where the intense equatorial sunlight provides ideal dry habitat. READ MORE.

Other resources:

Color guide to the common epiphytes of Florida

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Selby Resources