Q. Where can I buy a Monkey orchid?
The “monkey orchid” is becoming quite a popular thing as the result of photographs of the flower appearing on social media.
Be aware that most of the sellers who claim to provide seed of monkey orchids are actually Ebay scammers who send mislabelled seed that is not what they claim it to be. It’s a frequent problem with some of the foreign seed sellers on Ebay.
A further caution: orchid seed is dust-like and requires very specialized techniques and environment to germinate and then the plants will take several years to reach blooming size (3 - 8 years depending on the species).
Monkey orchids are properly known as orchids in the genus Dracula – from the Latin for “ Little Dragon”. They are a group of orchids from the cloud forests of Central and South America that require cool, moist, humid conditions year-round to thrive. Many of the species will suffer and decline if temperatures are often above 80 F for any period of time. Another drawback is that many species will have flowers that collapse if the relative humidity is less than 75 - 80% and the blooms will be short lived. The blooms are relatively small with flowers being 1 - 2” in diameter.
These orchids are not recommended for the beginning orchid grower because of the specific conditions they need to prosper. For more advanced orchid gardeners that have the tools to provide the growing environment, some of the more easy species to cultivate are Dracula erythrocheate, Dracula bella and Dracula cordobae.
There are a number of specialty nurseries that grow the plants but be assured they will not thrive or bloom if their conditions are less than ideal.
Plants are available from:
Courtesy of the NYBG Plant Information Service