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Orchid Popularity Growing

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Floriculture Crops Survey for the year 2005, compiled by the National Agricultural Statistics Survey, orchids are growing in popularity in the United States. Currently second in potted flowering plant sales with a wholesale value of nearly $144 million, orchid sales increased by approximately 12 percent this past year. This is the highest percentage increase of all the potted flowering plants in the category. Orchids are second in sales behind poinsettias, which experienced a two percent decrease with more than $242 million in sales, and they are significantly ahead of third-ranked chrysanthemums, which increased slightly to $69 million in sales.

There were more than 18 million orchids sold in the United States in 2005, an increase of five percent from the previous year. “This reflects the growth of the flowers popularity. People are increasingly learning that orchids are not the delicate plants that they were once perceived to be, but are hardy, easy-to-maintain plants that have the ability to bloom all year long,” said Lee Cooke, executive director of the American Orchid Society (AOS). “We’re certainly not startled at the continued popular growth of nature’s most alluring flower, but we are somewhat surprised that the trends continue to spike so positively in light of the immense hurricane damage wrought to the horticultural industry in 2005, particularly in Florida.”

Orchids have been included as a separate entry in the annual USDA Floriculture Crops Summary Report since 1995, when they were first submitted by the nonprofit AOS. Floriculture refers to plants in the categories of bedding, cut cultivated greens, cut flowers, flowering potted plants and foliage plants. California and Florida lead the nation in production, accounting for 43 and 34 percent of the country's orchids, respectively. Hawaii accounts for 15 percent of the production. Together, these three states account for more than 90 percent of the country's orchids.

"Orchids are the largest group of flowering plants in nature. There are more than 25,000 identified species, with the total number probably reaching 30,000, and new species are being discovered each year," said Dr. Rob Griesbach, genetic researcher of floral plants for the U.S. National Arboretum, and past president of the AOS. “In addition to that, there are more than 120,000 hybrids registered with the Royal Horticultural Society. With so many choices, there's an orchid for every person's taste.”

Long known as a flower of distinction, orchids have an undeniable mystique. Orchids are included as backdrops in many cinema and television scenes, and are featured in countless advertisements and magazine covers for everything from clothing and furniture to architecture and design. Because of their beauty, relative low cost and hardiness, orchids are also increasingly becoming a central aesthetic touch to the home lifestyle. Exceptional plants are produced at low cost by nurseries throughout the United States, but the huge volume of quality plants grown and marketed by large commercial growers in Florida and California contributed to most of the sales boom. Reference.

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