There are 25,000 species of orchids -more than any other flowering plant in the world, and that is one of the reasons they are such popular flowers.
Many are on display this weekend at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.
Orchids grow just about everywhere in the world, on all continents, including North America. Some orchids are native to Western New York, including the Cypripedium species, known as "lady slippers." These plants are relatively hearty, with flowers generally earthtone in color.
Twelve local orchid growers are displaying their flowers at the Niagara Frontier Orchid Society's exhibit, which continues Sunday at the gardens. Flowers are judged based on their color and size, as well as the fullness and flatness of their petals.
Among the local orchid growers with flowers on display was Peter Martin of Buffalo, a 30-year member of the Niagara Frontier Orchid Society. Among his award winners was the Clowsia. In addition to its "grapefruit pink" color, it is known for its beautiful fragrance.
Orchids come in all sizes, with the smallest ones on display at the Botanical Gardens having flowers measuring less than a quarter-inch in size.
The largest orchids can have leaves measuring three feet, and flowers 12 inches or greater in size. These largest plants tend to grow in Southeast Asia.
The most popular orchids are the Phalaenopsis species. Several are on display and are also for sale at the Botanical Gardens. They also are the orchids typically sold in lawn and grocery stores. They are very popular because they are the easiest to grow, and flower quickly and often.
There also were orchids, including some at the exhibit, that can take as long as 10 to 12 years to flower for the first time. "Patience" is need in these cases, one exhibit attendee said.
The trick to growing orchids, the growers said, is not to overwater them. Also, fertilizer and the right amount of light are keys. And in Buffalo, it's important to bring most inside during the colder months.
The Niagara Frontier Orchid Society usually has two shows a year at the Botanical Gardens - one in February and one in November. The November show is canceled for 2017 because many of the judges and other organizers will be at the World Orchid Conference being held in Ecuador during that time.
The Niagara Frontier Orchid Society has been coming to the Botanical Gardens for a least the past 10 years. It previously held its exhibits at the Hamburg Fairgrounds.