The Western North Carolina Orchid Society (WNCOS) and The North Carolina Arboretum will host the 21st annual Asheville Orchid Festival on Saturday, April 6, and Sunday, April 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Arboretum’s Education Center. World-class growers and breeders along with regional orchid societies will exhibit hundreds of plants in carefully crafted displays throughout the weekend. As one of the premier orchid festivals in the Southeast, the exposition is a sanctioned judging event recognized by the American Orchid Society.
“I’m the most excited I’ve been in years for our festival,” says WNCOS president and festival chairman Mike Mims. “Our partnership with the NC Arboretum, coupled with our thriving orchid society, simply has incredible synergy and enthusiasm these days.”
An abundance of rare orchid species and cutting-edge hybrids will be on display at the expo. Visitors can also purchase their own plants and supplies from vendors from across the United States and Ecuador. “We’re quite fortunate to make our home here in a diverse area that offers growers four classic seasons,” says Mims. “This allows orchid lovers to cultivate diverse collections originating from all corners of the earth.”
Throughout the weekend, WNCOS will host various programs and educational lectures. Topics include propagation and growing techniques, a presentation on the orchid exhibit at Biltmore and a program on native orchids presented by local naturalist and Arboretum educator Scott Dean.
“I think folks enjoy learning about the orchids native to this area, the stories about how various groups have used the plants and why some of their common names came to be,” says Dean. “I’ll show photos of the orchids and discuss reproductive strategies, pollinators and nutritional requirements, as well as when to find them in flower.”
Special guest Dayaneth Loja Portilla of Ecuagenera Orchids of Ecuador will also return for the third year for a bilingual Spanish/English orchid presentation. “Having Dayaneth with us again and providing the audience with an interpreter so the program can be enjoyed in both Spanish and English is something I am very excited to announce,” says Mims. “Our Hispanic community is strong here in WNC, and we hope what Dayaneth offers will help us to bring its members out to enjoy this event.”
The North Carolina Arboretum is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 393. Admission into the Asheville Orchid Festival is $5 per person. Children 12 and under are free. Standard parking fees apply for non-members of The North Carolina Arboretum. All admission proceeds will benefit WNCOS. Learn more at NCArboretum.org and WNCOS.org.