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International Orchid Show Blooms April 12-14

PHILADELPHIA, March 13, 2013


Blue Heaven, Laeliocattleya Dinard, a Cattleya hybrid
Click on image for hi-res version

Orchids conjure images of steamy jungles, exotic flowers hanging from trees, and renegade adventurers collecting for European aristocrats centuries ago. They bring to mind a delicate Mother’s Day corsage and a prom nosegay for a high-school sweetheart.

More than 30,000 species of orchids grow in diverse habitats around the world. Today they are even available in some grocery stores. A huge variety of these bewitching flowers will be gathered in one place on April 12, 13 and 14 at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society International Orchid Show and Sale at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

The American Orchid Society-judged show will feature amazing displays of exotic and common varieties by regional orchid societies and national groups, including the Native Orchid Conference and the American Fukiran Society. Dozens of vendors from Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia and throughout the U.S., including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, will offer a diverse array of plants for sale, as well as growing supplies and related giftware.

The event is free with regular museum admission. Show hours are Friday, April 12, noon to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special discounts are available at nearby parking garages and hotels. For more information, visit or call 215-299-1000.

Highlights of the show include:

  • free talks about growing orchids and other topics
  • a display of blooming yellow lady’s slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum), one of the few native species that can be successfully grown in local woodland gardens
  • guided tours of the show
  • limited tours of the Academy’s world-renowned botanical collection of about 1.4 million specimens, including about 9,000 orchids
  • an outdoor tent with food and bar by 12th Street Catering
  • art activities for children
  • an exhibit of North American native-orchid photographs


Third largest orchid show

The International Orchid Show and Sale is one of the largest of its kind in the U.S.; only Florida and California boast larger shows. This weekend marks the first time an orchid show of this scale will be held in Philadelphia and the first time the Academy, the nation’s oldest natural history museum, will play host.

“We wanted to take the show out of the suburbs and into the big city so that more people could have convenient access to enjoy these wonderful flowers,” said Robert Sprague, a Douglassville, Pa., resident and avid orchid grower. Sprague is co-chair of the show for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society, one of 600 chapters of the American Orchid Society.

The Academy’s familiar dioramas of lions, gorillas and bears will be covered over to create a fully immersive garden experience.

“Our visitors will step into an amazing world of orchids,” said Sara Hertz, the Academy’s vice president for public experience and strategic initiatives. “It’s a perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring and the majestic beauty of one of the world’s most intriguing flowers.”

New species of orchids are being discovered each year, mostly in remote parts of the world. While most orchids grow in the tropics and subtropics, they also grow in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and in specialized habitats on all continents, except Antarctica. Many are large, colorful and stereotypical, but others are small, green and inconspicuous. All have developed remarkable adaptations to ensure successful pollination and continuation of the species.

Talented breeders continually create new hybrids by cross-pollinating species. Many hybrids are named after celebrities and historic figures, including first ladies from Bess Truman to Michelle Obama, and Martha Stewart, Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor, Betsy Ross and Queen Elizabeth.

Media Contact

Carolyn Belardo

Director of Public Relations
Phone: 215.299.1043