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

The Brooklyn Paper
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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.
Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

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

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