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2800 S.W. 72nd Avenue

Million Orchid Project

Native Orchids from the Million Orchid Project to be

Planted on Coral Gables Trees

Thousands of native orchid seedlings, as part of the Million Orchid Project, are being planted on Coral Gables City trees.

In 2014, the Coral Gables City Commission voted to fund $30,000 to reintroduce the orchids that were once plucked from the trees to be shipped north as potted plants. In the late 1800s, masses of orchids were hauled away from South Florida’s forest to be sold as disposable houseplants. At first, there seemed to be an endless supply, but orchid populations eventually dwindled to catastrophically low levels.

 “This project is well-matched to George Merrick’s dream of creating ‘a City that is a garden’,” said Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason. “Our already beautiful green landscape will be simply stunning when the orchids are in full bloom.”

The Coral Gables orchids will be planted in publicly accessible landscapes to be enjoyed by the public. The Million Orchid Project was launched in 2012 by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden with the goal to reestablish one million native orchid plants into South Florida’s urban landscapes. Fairchild is growing South Florida native orchid plants by the thousands in its indoor laboratory with the help of volunteers.  Four orchid species that were once common in our region are being planted: Florida butterfly orchids, Dollar orchids, Cockleshell orchids and Cigar/Cowhorn orchids. Orchid seedlings will flower in 1-3 years after installation, making our trees even more beautiful!

On Earth Day 2014, the first orchids of the Million Orchid Project were planted at Merrick Park, across from City Hall.  Thanks to the partnership between the City of Coral Gables and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, approximately 250,000 native orchids will be installed in various public green spaces , parks and roadway swales.


Butterfly Orchid (by Ken Setzer)