No other literature has had a greater impact upon the cultivation of orchids than the first edition of this book created when it was published in 1984. Until that time the conditions established and the techniques used to grow orchids were based upon ideas first formulated centuries earlier. Little had changed from the ideas that orchids required hot greenhouses, infrequent watering and darkened conditions, with virtually no air movement. While it was the first book to list all the then known Paphiopedilum species in a single source (it also provided full-color photographs of each), it was Birk’s radical ideas of promoting much brighter light conditions coupled with copious volumes of moving air and frequent watering which flew in the face of most everyone else’s ideas of how to grow orchids. But change was soon to take place. For those who began to provide more light for their orchids, and who then tried those new cultural techniques, they began to see marked improvements in the way their plants responded. Not only did they grow much faster and more healthily, but they rewarded growers with significantly more flowers. Reproduction rates improved and, the best news was, that for the first time growers stopped killing so many of their orchid plants. While this book was written for Paphiopedilum orchids, growers found that other genera of orchids under their care had also responded in a like manner to these same new ideas. Word spread, the revolution had begun. In time, other authors began to promote the benefits of Birk’s ideas, especially for the cultivation of numerous different orchid genera and now the successful results of those recommendations can be found in greenhouses around the world. The second edition has been entirely rewritten and many new illustrations (replacing most of those from the first edition) were added. All the newly discovered and named species (93 at this time) are also included in this new release. The cultural techniques and conditions have been greatly refined and expanded, and are written in plain language which anyone can understand. Several new chapters have been added, including a chapter which details the plan for ultimate extinction of most orchid species in nature, now established into law by the CITES organizers. For the first time in orchid literature, a useful critique of current methods of orchid classification and identification is presented, including Birk’s suggestions for the implementation of entirely new and more logical tools. Unreliable methods can no longer be tolerated in this modern age of technology and this book details the implementation and use of many contemporary ideas. The chaotic situation which has occurred for years in orchid naming and hybrid registration is addressed head-on, and a logical and workable alternative is outlined. The constant name-changing, and reversal of those changes must be eliminated in order to provide both horticulturists and botanists with stable bases of knowledge of their orchids. An eye-opening view of the realities facing the earth’s forested areas is also presented in details which will not be found in other literature. The real ‘culprit’ responsible for the continued destruction of these areas is exposed by Birk’s own first-hand experiences and knowledge. Information gained from his quarter of a century of explorations into the jungle habitats of these areas is revealed in these enlightening chapters. This is a unique book, and because of the tremendous wealth of information it provides, it is one which should be in the library of everyone who loves and cares for orchids, and who cares to know the proper identification of their Paphiopedilum species.

Copyright Lance A. Birk - 2016

Email Me at