FLOTUS Flower Power: Award-Winning Orchid Named for Melania Trump
by Penny Starr
Those who engage in orchid breeding call this newly minted variety a “showstopper,” and its namesake is also putting it in the spotlight.
The Rlc Melania Trump is a fuschia-hued first-of-its-kind hybrid cattleya orchid, according to Bloomberg:
During its monthly competition over the weekend, the American Orchid Society honored the orchid with one of its coveted HCC (Highly Commended Certificate) awards. Judges, who rate specimens on as many as 15 criteria, scored the Melania at the top of the HCC range.
The five most popular types of orchids are paphiopedilum, oncidium, dendrobium, cattleya, and phalaenopsis.
“And cattleyas are the most glamorous of all,” Arthur Chadwick, president of Chadwick & Son Orchids Inc., who raised the winning flower, told Bloomberg. “This variety was a fashion statement from the 1920s to 1960s. They’re the most visually appealing, and they require significant care.”
This is no grocery store flower. Not just anyone can pick a pretty flower and call it “Melania.”
That’s because a new orchid has to be a “scientifically original cross,” according to Bloomberg.
Rlc Melania Trump is a cross between a Cattleya Bold Swan and Rhyncholaeliocattleya Chia Lin.
A new orchid name has to be submitted to the Royal Horticultural Society and meet its stringent nomenclatural standards, Chadwick told Bloomberg.
“And nothing happens until it blooms,” Chadwick said. “You can’t tell one from another based on the leaves.”
“Grown from seed, an orchid takes seven years to bloom,” Chadwick said.
Trump isn’t the only first lady to be honored with an orchid in her name, according to Bloomberg.
The tradition dates back to Mrs. Hebert Hoover and continued, starting with a Barbara Bush orchid going forward, once Chadwick picked up and carried on the tradition.
In 2009, Chadwick presented former first lady Michelle Obama with a Cattleya dubbed te Lc Michelle Obama in a range of lavender-hued blooms, Bloomberg reported.