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Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic Plants Hardcover – November 9, 2004


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Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic Plants + The Orchid Whisperer: Expert Secrets for Growing Beautiful Orchids + Four Seasons of Orchids (Gardening)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (November 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618263268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618263264
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cullina has maintained a personal collection of orchids for decades, and still gets "that spine tingling, toe-tickling feeling of WOW" from an unfamiliar or outstanding specimen. It's a feeling he's eager to share with "orchid lovers at every level of expertise, from absolute beginner to experienced grower to expert." He succeeds in addressing such a broad audience by organizing his work into independent modules that can be consulted as needed. The first portion covers basic orchid information: detailed guides to growing them on a windowsill, under lights, in a greenhouse or outdoors, and practical advice on meeting their requirements for light, temperature, humidity and air movement in each of those settings. Cullina then systematically examines orchid culture, with in-depth discussions of watering, fertilization, potting and mounting, and pests and diseases. A brief but fascinating overview of orchid reproduction follows, with directions for hand pollinating, propagating and hybridizing. Finally, Cullina meticulously examines more than 100 of the most popular genera. Happily, a good number of these seductively described plants are rated for beginners (the other skill level ratings are experienced and expert). Cullina, who directs the New England Wild Flower Society, is extremely well versed in his subject and a skilled writer. His lively text, with its clear instructions, will make orchid growing as irresistible to readers as it is to Cullina. 300 color photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

With 30,000 species, orchids compose the largest plant family in the world. Cullina's informative guide, with 300 color photographs, tells what to look for in buying your first orchid. Much of the book is devoted to a list of common orchid genera, detailing more than 100 of the most popular ones. Each entry contains information on where the plant can be grown (at a window, under lights, or in a greenhouse), the level of skill it requires to grow the plant (beginner, experienced, or expert), and lists a good introductory species that would be easy to grow. Cullina, the author of Wildflowers (2000) and Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines (2002), also gives instructions on watering, light, potting, and fertilizing. This extensive guide includes a section on taxonomy and nomenclature and a glossary. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

William Cullina (kul-EYE-nuh) Currently Bill is the Director of Horticulture/Plant Curator for one of North America's newest and most exciting public gardens, The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. Previously he was the Director of Horticultural Research for the New England Wild Flower Society in Massachusetts. A well known author and recognized authority on North American native plants, Cullina lectures on a variety of subjects to garden and professional groups and writes for popular and technical journals. His books include, Wildflowers, Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines, Understanding Orchids, Native Ferns, Mosses, and Grasses, and most recently, Understanding Perennials, published in 2009. He and his wife, Melissa live with their three young children on Southport Island along the central Maine Coast. Visit his website www.williamcullina.com for writings, photography and updated lecture information.

Customer Reviews

This is a very well written and organized book.
Rdietz
I've been growing orchids for 20 years and have read dozens of orchid books.
Orchid grower
This is a book for both beginners and advanced orchid growers.
Phillip O.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

187 of 188 people found the following review helpful By Phillip O. VINE VOICE on October 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book on orchid growing, much more detailed and text oriented than others on the market, yet easy to read and the author's conversational writing style will be most comforting to beginner's.

The book is divided into four parts:

Part 1 - "Setting up the Orchid Environment" talks about buying your first orchid, the anatomy of the orchid, where to grow them, light, temperature, humidity and air movement, and quite detailed information about artificial lights.

Part 2 - "Care and Feeding" covers the basics of watering, fertilization, potting and repotting, types of mixtures, mounting orchids on trees and branches, pests and diseases, and a troubleshooting guide.

Part 3 - "Orchid Reproduction" is about hand pollination and the care of seedlings, and hybridization.

Part 4 - "Common Orchid Genera from A to Z" features a gallery of orchids with photos and cultural advice as well as skill levels (beginner, expert, experienced).

This is a book for both beginners and advanced orchid growers.
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93 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Orchid grower on March 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've been growing orchids for 20 years and have read dozens of orchid books. This is by far the most clearly written, entertaining and informative general orchid book I've ever come across. It is filled with helpful information on orchid culture as well as anecdotes that capture the mental progression of how one goes from a single plant to a whole collection. If you can feel yourself becoming hooked on orchids this book will come in very handy as your collection expands.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By JoBi on December 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We have eight orchids at home, with no special greenhouse for them. The book is simple and direct, giving exact tips to take care of them. The author show his passion for flowers by writing a book for both rookies -anyone with a window can have an orchid- and professionals. From the best light for a specimen to how to get hybrids. Includes step-by-step pictures.

Really excellent.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on February 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am an amateur orchid grower and have read a variety of books on the subject. So far, this is the best book I encountered and the most comprehensive. Not only that, it is a work of art, printed on high quality of paper. The pictures are outstanding and so is the carefully written text. This book is also just loaded with inexpensive ideas on various small projects that you can do to improve your results. If you are going to get one book on orchids, this should be it!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A. Crosby on November 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book as I was starting into the hobby of Orchids. The book is extremely informative on the basics and attempts to discuss common problems people have with Orchids. The most interesting sections are those on potting mediums and the individual orchid varieties commonly found at florists or even the grocery store.

biggest problem with the book is that it seems to convey the idea that any of the solutions will work which is not the case. Successful orchid growing requires an understanding through trial and error of what will work in your home. There are some basic tenants for everyone; however, they get lost in the details.

All in all, it's a great reference book and I would strongly recommend it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By NeuronalContortionist on December 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought an orchid on impulse & then got this book to figure out how to care for it. Should have bought the book beforehand, but that would have made sense. :) This book is an awesome intro into orchid care & varieties. The 1st 1/2 of the book has chapters (well balanced between helpful pictures & text) discussing elements of orchid care. The 2nd 1/2 describes many orchid families in decent detail. The family descriptions inform about the natural habitat of the family, the optimal care for the family and its subtypes, and even include recommendations as to the experience needed to properly care for members of the described families. The family descriptions range from a couple of paragraphs about some of the less commonly encountered families to a couple of pages about the most commonly enountered families such as the Phaleanopis family. The text is highly readable and quite engaging. When purchasing the book, I anticipated scanning the relevant parts and being bored by the rest - not the case at all! I read the book essentially cover-to-cover within a few hours. I can't speak to the usefulness of the book for experienced orchid growers but, as a novice, I found the book to provide both an easily absorbed overview (if skimming) of orchid care as well as plenty of detail to read closely when desired. I'm so glad I chose this book!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bard Prentiss on February 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I believe that this is the best book out there on orchids. Mr Cullina covers the important and often allusive culture issues confronted in growing orchids in real depth. He provides thoughtful, comon sense explanations for his reccomendations that go way beyond those found in other books I have read on the subject. The second half of the book details the cultural requirements and rates the difficulty level of 100 species of potential interest to growers with experience levels from beginner to expert. Much more than a coffee table book, Understanding Orchids is a valuable reference that belongs in every orchid enthuiast's library.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By ruby tuesday on November 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a relatively new orchid grower, I found this to be one of the most useful books for a beginner. In addition, it is written is a very accessible, friendly style, with many examples of the author's struggles to succeed with orchids. I highly recommend it!
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