Orchids a blooming good hobby

Once you start with orchids the habit just grows on you, say the region's gardening enthusiasts.

"I just started off and it's like a disease - once you've caught it you can never get rid of it," said Illawarra District Orchid Society president Bruce Mitchell, who has nurtured them since 1998.

"Orchids are one of the largest family of plants in the world. There are so many different types that you can grow," he explained.

About 200 varieties of this family - including cymbidiums, native orchids, slipper orchards, foliage displays and stunning flower arrangements - were displayed by the society at its annual winter show last week.

The exhibition at Illawarra Yacht Club, which ended on Saturday, attracted a stream of visitors from all over the region.

Mr Mitchell said the Illawarra was home to many enthusiastic orchid growers - some had been producing beautiful flowers for more than 40 years - but newcomers were needed to help revitalise the hobby.

"There's not a lot of young people coming though and I think one of the main reasons is that most homes don't have the room to build a shade house these days," he said.

"It would be good to see more young people coming through and growing their own orchids."

Mr Mitchell said many show visitors wanted advice on how to get the best blooms from orchids.

"I would just say a good orchid grower needs to have patience, because if you buy a very small seedling you might have to wait up to four years to see it flower," he said.

"But then after that they usually will flower every year."

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