Behind the Scenes at DBG Orchids

Ten early weekend risers were escorted to three back-of-the-house grow areas at Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG) where the tropicals are tracked and grown under the watchful eye of Nick Snakenberg, Curator of Tropical Collections and Associate Director of Horticulture.

Two greenhouses and one hot house at DBG are growing the most spectacular collection of catalogued exotic blooms, rare orchids and other fascinating tropicals. The oldest one in the collection is vanilla from 1965.

Nick was lovely, funny and friendly and no question was off limits. Often asked if ice cubes a good way to water orchids, he smiled and said “tropical plants and ice?” But he knows it’s a common habit and said whatever it takes to get some water to them is good.

Two Hot Hort Tips from Nick are: 1) buy some new single edge razor blades to (carefully!) cut off dead ends on leaves as needed and then discard. That way you aren’t using something like scissors that may not be clean and you won’t infect the plant. 2) All the rage now, enthusiasts are using grow tents and buying lights to grow orchids in their basements or garages; with new and improved equipment thanks to the marijuana business..

Nick’s good nature and orchid stories kept us all entertained and informed while were transported through his tropical paradises.


Dracula Simia, also known as the monkey orchid. Look for the monkey face.