The Missing Scent Of Orchids Flowers

The Missing Scent Of Orchids Flowers
While researching on orchids I read a lot about different kinds of scent-emitted by orchid flowers. Books mention delicate to overpowering scents. From lemony to lavender etc. some have their own unique scents (like vanilla). These are produced for a variety of reasons, like attracting pollinators, or as a warning to herbivores. For attracting pollinators, the scent is produced by the flower when the plant is ready for fertilization. As the day temperature rises the aromatic oils, stored in the petals (or whichever part that stores the scent-related compound), combine and are released. And this scent then reaches our nose after evaporating. One particular scent is made up of a complex composition of chemicals (some of which might be present in minuscule quantities and yet produce the most powerful effect). Scent production is not an easy task, it impacts the flower by reducing its life span.

Since I started working on these amazing plants, I have noticed that orchids in my collection rarely give any scent. I have searched for the reasons behind the missing scent in my flowers and made a list of possible causes that may be responsible:

1. Change of abode: The orchids had to adjust to a lot of changes when they were brought from their natural habitats, such as a change in the latitude and a consequent change in the angle of sun rays. This has resulted in exposure to a different set of the temperature range. The water factor also changed, in terms of dissolved salts, and ambient water content in the surrounding micro as well as macro environment. The water requirements had also changed with the change in the temperature range. This in turn would have affected the nutrient requirements of the orchids.

2. Surrounding environment: With the change in abode, there was an accompanying change in the surrounding vegetation. If the trigger for scent production was in the surrounding vegetation of the natural abode then the scent is gone forever.

3. Lack of nutrients: To produce this complex set of chemicals that constitute a particular floral scent the orchids have to work very hard. The nutrient requirements for such a heavy activity would require a balanced nutrient supply. As most of my orchids are natural, one reason for the missing scent could be a missing nutrient that the orchid obtained easily in its natural environment but is not getting from the present set of growth medium and fertilizer.

4. Missing pollinators: As my orchids are now far away from their native environment and consequently from their preferred pollinators, the incentive to produce scents that would have otherwise attracted the pollinators is now missing. Also, the orchids have not gotten accustomed to the local pollinators of their new abode.

1. "Understanding Flower Fragrance," Charlie Rohwer. University of Minnesota Extension, Yard & Garden Line News, Vol. 5, No. 1, January 1, 2003

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