Test Tube Flowers:
Most of today's mass-produced orchids aren't grown from seeds -- they're clones! Using tissue culture techniques, orchid cultivators can produce an infinite number of identical plants.
Clones are grown from cells taken from the tip of a plant's shoot. Under sterile conditions, grower place these cells in a flask filled with nutrients and hormones. The resulting plantlets grow up in a series of flasks, until finally they're ready to leave the lab for the greenhouse.
Along with poinsettias, orchids are the best-selling potted flowers in the United States.
Long Journey from Lab to Store:
How is an orchid like a car? They're both created through mass production. Industrial-scale labs and greenhouses around the world have honed each part of the production process to a science, with specialized treatment for each new growth stage -- like a factory assembly line.
Even this streamlined process takes a long time to produce a mature flowering plant. Some Cattleya orchids can take up to eight years before they're ready to go to market.