Tropical Plant Nursery

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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A tropical plant nursery will be, of course, well stocked with the orchids, bamboo, palms, and bromeliads that we don't need identifying as native to equatorial regions. Other plants might surprise us. Many ferns that we take for granted--the rabbit's foot, for example--are native to the rain forests of Central and South America and Africa. Most of the 800 species of ficus--our fiddle-leaf fig, weeping fig, and rubber plant, for example--are also native to the warmer parts of the world. With the right care, however, they become integral parts of our interior decor and thrive for years.

Stock Items in a Tropical Plant Nursery

Orchids are perhaps the largest family of flowering plants, with as many as 750 genera and more than 20,000 species. About half of the species grow on the ground (terrestrial). The other half clings to rocks, shrubs, or trees (epiphytic). Most cultivated orchids are epiphytic. Only one of the 750--Paphiopedilum--is common as a house plant and thus likely to turn up in a tropical plant nursery.

Although they are not as difficult to grow as is commonly believed, orchids are nonetheless somewhat demanding. The more control you have over humidity, light, and temperature, the better. With appropriate attention, however, orchids you buy from a tropical plant nursery will thrive and bloom for years.

Ferns, like orchids, are both epiphytic and terrestrial. Ferns, like orchids, need high humidity. Think about how humid rain forests and even temperate forests are, and what do you envision but a thick carpet of ferns in dappled sunlight. The more care you take in researching tropical plants--and there's a great deal of information available online--the more likely those you select are to survive.

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