University Offers Course in Orchid Culture

The mysteries of growing and caring for orchids, considered the worldıs most beautiful flower, will be explored in a new continuing education course at Texas A&M International University.

"Introduction to Orchid Culture" will be held July 1, 8 and 10 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Building C Room 210. Course cost is $30 for tuition and $10 for lab fees. Persons completing the course will receive their own orchid.

Course instructor will be Phillip J. Lane, member of the American Orchid Society and certified master gardener. Lane is also Assistant to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at A&M International. Lane said many people are under the mistaken impression that orchids are intimidating and difficult to grow.

"While there are 25,000 species and more than 100,000 registered hybrids, with a little background and planning, youıll find that orchids are really a pleasure to grow and maintain here in Laredo. If you can grow houseplants, you can grow orchids. Like any other plant, orchids must have the growing conditions they need to survive. But they are amazingly sturdy and resilient," he explained.

Lane said orchids were once considered an expensive interest for the wealthy, but have become more accessible and affordable in recent years.

"Orchids today are within the reach of all. One of the oldest and best organized of plant hobbies, orchid culture now enjoys worldwide popularity. Their incredible beauty, lengthy bloom life and diversity of orchids captivate men and women from every walk of life," he said.

Lane said the Orchid Culture course at A&M International will start with the basics including plant selection, preparation and maintenance and special requirements. The tremendous variety of plants available will be highlighted as will helpful resources and guides and control of common orchid pests and diseases.

"The orchid family is the largest plant family, occupying almost all conceivable environments. From the thimble-sized Mystacidium caffrum to the 20-foot-tall Renanthera storei, orchids exhibit amazingly different shapes, forms and growth habits. For example, some orchids produce blossoms no larger than a mosquito while other orchid flowers are as large as a dinner plate. Some have no fragrance, others can fill a house with their fragrance.

"The familiar prom corsage is just one of the thousands of attractive types that can be grown with ease, given the proper culture. And with today's propagation methods and current hybridizing trends, there are more choices to choose from than ever before," Lane noted.

For more information on the Orchid Culture course at Texas A&M International University, please contact the Office of Continuing Education at 326 - 2700, or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 332.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu