Orchids receive RHS awards after focus change

More tropical orchids have received the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) because of a change in the committee's focus.

Previously, tropical orchids were less likely to be considered for an AGM because they struggled to meet the eligibility criteria.

The criterion states that the plants have to be "excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions, available, of good constitution, essentially stable in form and colour and reasonably resistant to pests and diseases".

Because of their current popularity, tropical orchids may only be on sale for six months until fashions change or they are overtaken by superior clones meaning they would not meet the AGM criterion of availability.

Now the RHS Orchid Committee has recognised the popularity of tropical orchids and the demand for accurate information for consumers about them.

RHS orchid committee vice chair Liz Johnson said: "Orchids are consistently rated as one of our favourite house plants, but advice on which to buy has been lacking. The changes we have made to the AGM status of tropical orchids will benefit breeders and consumers alike."

The committee is also addressing the issues surrounding the naming of the plants by requiring growers to register every AGM orchid in the international Orchid Hybrid Register, run by the RHS. This should lead to improved labelling, giving consumers more buying confidence.

Johnson added: "Previously the AGM list only included orchids suitable for cultivation as rock garden or alpine house plants; we feel that had to change."

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