Thousands of native orchid seedlings, as part of the Million Orchid Project, are being planted on Coral Gables City trees.
Recently at the Merrick House, city crews began planting the first large batch of orchid seedlings that have been propagated and grown by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for the Million Orchid Project.
In one to three years, these orchid seedlings will begin flowering and reproducing on city trees. Additional orchid plantings in Coral Gables trees will be done throughout the summer as the humid rainy season is the best time of the year to plant orchid seedlings.
Plantings will continue every Friday through August, and residents are welcome to watch or lend a helping hand. Recent orchid plantings took place July 15 at Fewell Park, located on the southeast corner of Granada Boulevard and Coral Way, and July 22 at Young Park, located on the northeast corner of Granada Boulevard and Castile Avenue.
To inquire about future planting locations, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-460-5131.
In 2014, the Coral Gables City Commission voted to fund $30,000 for the next five years to reintroduce the orchids that were once plucked from the trees to be shipped north as potted plants. In the late 1800s, masses of orchids were hauled away from South Florida’s forest to be sold as disposable houseplants. At first, there seemed to be an endless supply, but orchid populations eventually dwindled to catastrophically low levels.
“This project is well matched to George Merrick’s dream of creating ‘a city that is a garden,’” said Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason. “Our already beautiful green landscape will be simply stunning when the orchids are in full bloom.”
The Coral Gables orchids will be planted in publicly accessible landscapes to be enjoyed by the public. The Million Orchid Project was launched in 2012 by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden with the goal to reestablish one million native orchid plants into South Florida’s urban landscapes.
Fairchild is growing South Florida native orchid plants by the thousands in its indoor laboratory with the help of volunteers. Four orchid species that were once common in our region are being planted: Florida butterfly orchids, Dollar orchids, Cockleshell orchids and Cigar/Cowhorn orchids.
On Earth Day 2014, the first orchids of the Million Orchid Project were planted at Merrick Park, across from City Hall. Thanks to the partnership between the City of Coral Gables and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, a new batch of orchid seedlings is now ready to be planted in the City Beautiful.