The Ides of March will soon be upon us, as will the upcoming annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. The weekend, March 15-17, marks the 74th year for enthusiasts to come together from around the world. The show is the longest running in the United States and is considered one of the best due to the wide variety of flowers. Visitors will be able to meet international and local growers, including Cal-Orchid and the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate.
Santa Barbara is an epicenter for orchid growers due to its Mediterranean, nearly frost-free climate, according to show president Wayne Ferrell, adding that when nursery growers arrived regionally, property was relatively affordable. Today, the plant is nearly ubiquitous in the area, sitting in many residents’ backyards and kitchen windowsills.
The show theme this year is Orchid Magic. Ferrell explained that the orchid family’s beauty is an outcome of the plants having competed for pollinators over millions of years, leading to ever more colorful and intricate blooms. Many of the flowers don’t trace their adaptation to natural factors alone, however. Today, most of the orchids that you see are hybrids. For orchids, hybridization may actually be a saving grace. Since the plant family is threatened by the conversion of forests to grazing lands, hybridizing actually helps reduce a lot of the pressure on harvesting orchids in the wild. This is also a good thing for orchid connoisseurs — it means a nearly endless pool of variation in size, color, and bloom time to choose from.
For those who want to have an even more magical experience at the show, the Orchids After Dark event will take place 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday. For more info on that (and tickets), visit sborchidshow.com.
General admission tickets cost $14, seniors and students (with ID) $12, and kids 12 and younger get in for free.