The orchid cheat? Botanic Garden mega-flower in bloom — thanks to fertilizer!

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

This orchid’s on the juice!

A gargantuan 300-pound tiger orchid is currently blooming in spectacular style at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and is expected to produce anywhere from 850 to 1,700 flowers — not bad for a plant that isn’t guaranteed to bloom at all, even in its indigenous tropical environment.

Of course, you could credit the perfectly maintained tropical environment of orchid curator David Horak’s greenhouse — or you could thank the horticultural equivalent of steroids: fertilizer.

Yes, the green thumbs at the Garden have been treating their pride and joy — Grammatophyllum speciosum — with an experimental nutrient called Turbo Thrive that’s only available to insiders.

“The amount and quality of the flowers is more than likely from the new fertilizer,” admitted Horak.

Like Barry Bonds, this orchid specimen was certainly a star before chemical enhancements, blooming twice in its 13 years at the Garden, though never with such exhuberance. In 2004, the orchid produced about 100 flowers, and two years ago, it bore about 200 — hardly comparable to this year’s floral flame-out.

The orchid will flower for two more weeks, so even if Congress won’t have time to begin and investigation, you’ll at least have plenty of opportunity to see a once-in-a-lifetime agricultural event.

“It’s special that such an extraordinary thing can take place here,” said Kate Blumm, a spokeswoman for the Garden. “This is something you would usually see, if at all, in the tropical forests of South East Asia. So we’re very proud.”

(For the record, it is not illegal to fertilize orchids with performance-enhancing legal substances such as Turbo Thrive.)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden [900 Washington Ave. near Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, (718) 623-7200]. For info, visit

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

Green Acres from Brokelyn says:
using fertilizer is not cheating as all plants are fertilized in nature by decomposing organic matter (decomposing animals, leaves, wood) that contains nitrogen, potassium, and other elements. Prepackaged fertilizer provides essential nutrients that would not be naturally available in an artificial growing environment like a greenhouse
Nov. 16, 2011, 12:05 pm
Mary from Los Angeles area says:
Please PLEASE provide a photo showing MORE of the plant....a 300 lb orchid should be something to SEE in its entirety!!! I am toooo far from Brooklyn to make the trip in person! Thank you!
May 14, 2012, 4:39 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!