Rare Tiger Orchid Bloom Event in Indianapolis

I saw something yesterday that not many people have seen in the horticultural world!

On Saturday, I read in the local paper that a Tiger Orchid was blooming at nearby Garfield Park Conservatory. (No, not the conservatory in Chicago, the one in Indianapolis).

Yes, a “large, rare tiger orchid”, Grammatophyllum speciosum, blooming in Indianapolis in the middle of winter. According to the newspaper article, written by the paper’s resident garden writer, this is only the 4th time this plant has bloomed since being imported 40 years ago. She also wrote that “the last public bloom of this species in the U.S. was in 2003 at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where it received a lot of attention from national and international media”

I had to go see it for myself. So off to the conservatory I went on a cold, but sunny Sunday afternoon.

I didn’t know what to expect. Lines of people? Media? All kinds of orchid aficionados waiting to see a glimpse? Maybe there would be so many people I wouldn’t be able to get a good picture?

Guess what? So far, this orchid isn’t attracting much attention, at least on a Sunday afternoon. There were just a handful of people there when I went. I guess I beat the crowds.

But it is a big plant, for an orchid, and I thought it was impressive. I also appreciated that the owners at the Hoosier Orchid Company were very nice and brave to risk moving this large orchid to the conservatory so others could view it. I’m sure moving it was not easy to do, because the branches look like they could snap off from their own weight if they hadn’t been tied up with string.

Above is the orchid in bloom. Below is the entire plant.

Here's the sign that tells more about it.

And below is the vanilla orchid seedling that I did not buy. They had some orchids for sale there, but I resisted temptation, even though I thought it would be fun to own a vanilla orchid. I just didn't know enough about it, how to care for it, and there didn't seem to be anyone there to ask more about it. Maybe next time.


  1. I am sure this is a once in a lifetime for you! Fascinating!

  2. Do you think it will still be blooming on Wednesday? I'm thinking about coming into town to see it. (From Chicago area.)


  3. That is just stunning! I would have done the same thing! Drive right over!

  4. Oh wow... I never imagined it would be so large! I'm glad that you put in that second photo to give us an idea of scale.

    Don't know how you resisted the vanilla orchid, though. I wouldn't know how to grow it, either, but I know I wouldn't have had the willpower to resist!

  5. That is a really huge orchid plant and inflorescense. It must take a lot of stored energy to bloom.

    Vanilla orchid grows a lot like a vine. It needs something tall to crawl up and then it must be hand pollinated with a magnifying glass to see what you are doing to get it to set fruit to be able to collect the beans.

  6. This looks like a nice break from winter for you, and the Tiger orchid is impressive. My thought was similar to Blackswamp Girl's -owning a vanilla orchid is very tempting.

    When you said that both Indianapolis and Chicago have a Garfield Park Conservatory, my curiousity made me google them:

    Both Garfield Parks were named in 1881, soon after President Garfield was assassinated. The Indianapolis Park was newly built, while Chicago renamed an existing park. Both Conservatory buildings were constructed in the decade before World War One. What's the Conservatory building like, Carol? Do you go there often?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  7. Wow! Thanks for sharing that! I'm with Kim--- I can't believe how large it is. What a nice respite from snow :-)

  8. I'll bet it was a great sight. I think you should have gotten the vanilla orchid.

  9. The County Clerk... the orchid should be blooming for awhile yet. I'm not sure I'd drive all the way from Chicago to see this, unless you have other things to do in Indianapolis, or maybe you have an "Orchid Life List" (Ha!) and want to check this one off (like bird watchers have).

    Annie... I visit the conservatory a couple of times of year when they have something special to see. They also have some nice gardens around it in the summer. But as a conservatory, it is fairly small, but nicely maintained (it is one of the Indianapolis city parks).

    Gary... you are right, I wish I had purchased the vanilla orchid!

    Thank you all for the comments.

  10. Carol, I can't imagine you turning down an orchid. You better run back and buy it.

  11. I am afraid to buy an orchid. I know it would die on me. I don't have luck with orchids or african violets. I wish I knew what I did wrong.


  12. Thinking about moving the large plant without breaking something... and, how did they keep it warm so it didn't get chilled!? Must have had a huge Styrofoam box.

  13. You should go back and buy yourself a snow melting gift of the vanilla orchid.
    Kathy, the older sister

  14. Gardener Greg... orchids are not that hard to grow, try one and see for yourself!

    And, since my mom and sister think I should go back and get the orchid, perhaps I shall!

  15. Although Singapore is in the North of the Equator, our flowering season for Grammatophyllum speciosum takes on to the southern hemisphere's flower season - starting late August to late September. If you can't have enough of the palm-sized blooms and the papaya sized fruits, book and trip down ^^


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