Secret Sanctuary: The Orchid Conservation Program Shade Houses at Cranbourne Gardens 

An abundant sea of colourful blooms, The Orchid Conservation Program's shade houses at Cranbourne Gardens are a secret sanctuary for the extremely rare and threatened native orchid species that our team are working to save.  

The shade houses, which were constructed solely through the support of generous donors, become the home of these orchids after a range of complex processes undertaken by the team who work with endangered orchids across Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. They hand-pollinate plants in the wild and collect the mycorrhizal fungi, which they take back to the lab and discover the requirements for germinating each species. The team then unravel the complexities of what pollinates these species in the wild and what vegetation associations are required. After finding suitable sites that have the pollinator, vegetation and have the threats to the species at the site mitigated, they then introduce the plants that were grown back to the wild.

Once the orchids have been successfully germinated, they need somewhere safe to grow, and that’s where the shade houses come into the picture. They have been carefully designed to protect these orchids from damaging light, humidity, heat, frost and other environmental conditions which could prevent them from prospering. Creating a refuge from the elements for these rare beauties in the shade houses has created the perfect orchid-growing microclimate that has resulted in plentiful growth. The plants in the shade houses are used for seed orcharding through careful breeding, supplying an abundance of seed for future conservation works.

Once the orchids have been grown and cared for in the shade houses, they’re ready to be translocated back to their natural environments, with the ultimate goal of creating self-sustaining wild populations to ensure that these beauties survive to be enjoyed and admired for generations to come. 

These spectacular and incredibly rare Spider Orchids pictured here blooming in all their glory are just a few of the many precious species that the team have been able to grow and care for in the shade houses, giving them the best chance of success in the wild.  

Your support can help provide the Orchid Conservation Program team will the tools they need to ensure our rarest and most threatened orchid species can be brought back from the brink of extinction. Donate today to do your part for our threatened orchids 

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