Hasina Ahmad, Black HIlls State University distance education coordinator, and Tamara Lawson, BHSU laboratory manager, demostrate orchid care during a presentation at the Central States Fair.
 Hasina Ahmad, left, and Tamara Lawson, hope to get more people interested in growing orchids in Western South Dakota.
Black Hills State University staffers Tamara Lawson, laboratory manager, and Hasina Ahmad, distance education coordinator, brought their love of orchids and green thumb knowledge of the exotic plants to locals during several demonstrations presented last month in Rapid City.

The presentations were part of the Central States Fair festivities and included how to repot, the importance of repotting, and basic care and culture.

“When orchids are growing, they lose all of their nutrients in two years, so you have to repot them. Most people think it is difficult to grow orchids, but they are just uninformed,” said Ahmad, who grew up in Bangladesh and developed her love of horticulture from her mother.

Ahmad has always surrounded herself with plants and flowers whether she lived in an apartment or a house. Even her office at BHSU is immersed with various types of botanicals.

“My mother loves plants and flowers.  I am trying to carry on that legacy,” Ahmad said. “My mother is an avid rose grower.  That is how I fell in love with roses.  They are not very difficult to grow in Western South Dakota, but you have to get the right ones.”

Lawson said there are myths surrounding orchids that they are finicky and hard to grow, but added that anyone can grow the tall, slender vibrant-colored flowers. During the presentations, Lawson talked about the most popular orchids that people buy, and the hybridized ease of growing orchids.

“Nurseries will take individual species and put them together. This is the process of breeding the orchids for the ease of growing,” Lawson said. “Humidity is really the only problem here in Western South Dakota.“

Ahmad and Lawson are trying to get more people interested in growing orchids in Western South Dakota.

“I had a hard time my first couple years of growing orchids – I couldn’t get them to flower. You really just need the right environment,” Ahmad said. “Now that I can grow orchids with limited space and under an artificial light, I think that anyone can do it. You have to want to grow them.”

Ahmad and Lawson are hoping more people around Western South Dakota take up the hobby of growing orchids. If this happens, they will plan more orchid demonstrations for the campus and community.