Plants in movies, TV

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)January 14, 2014

Though almost any time there's an office scene, there are plants, I always love the huge office plant 'cameos' on Seinfeld especially. We were watching Gilligan's Island the other day and I realized how many awesome 'house plants' are in the background. On Big Bang Theory, there's a big plant in every shot in the lobby/landings of their apartment building (even though there doesn't seem to be windows.) My memory isn't good enough to know if they're the same ones in the same spots.

But isn't it downright strange how they never mention them? Like, nobody ever knocks on the door & gets distracted, "Hey, what an awesome Ficus tree!" Or, "Look at the huge leaves on your Pothos!"

Is it kind of delicious irony that nobody ever waters these plants (that we see) and they look great? Isn't it sad that on the rare occasion a struggling plant is seen, it's used as a sign to the viewer, to signal this is definitely one of the 'bad guys,' really really bad.

The last time we watched Apocalypse Now, I was mostly watching the jungle, as I'm usually doing during the 'survival' shows DH likes.

It seems like most TV shows about families are in CA. Whenever they show the outside of someone's house, it's usually landscaped with cacti/succulent plants.

What other shows or movies have you noticed plants in? What have you noticed about them?

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I always notice the fake plants they stick into the scenery. I live in a historic city often used for filming and they have to hang plastic foliage over the modern fixtures like electric wires, etc. It also makes me laugh when the character says somthing about 'freesias' while holding out a bunch of stocks. A great one was in the film Bright Star where John Keats and his love wander through an orchard of apple trees which have fake cherries attached to the branches. They do so much research on costume and seemingly very little on the plants.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:06PM
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The little shop of horrors comes to mind.

I mean...the plant talked! ...Can ya get more fake than that? LOL ;)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:15PM
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I was just thinking this the other day!! I've been marathoning the drama show "Parenthood". Each family has all these issues happening with all their kids and they have these big gorgeous houses and house plants all over the place. One mom has an orchid healthily blooming on a table next to her bed, hardly near a window. Another family has a big leafy plant on top of their fridge, again nowhere near a window. The grandmother has a beautiful yard that's just FULL of huge blooming plants. It looks like it would require a huge amount of maintenance but you never see her out there working on it. There's also a gorgeous pink orchid growing in the almost windowless lobby of a music studio that some of the family members work in that I am very envious of.

But yes, you're not the only one to notice! My first thought is always how unrealistic the plants look, being so bushy and healthy with no light. Then my second thought I'd they must be fake and I think it's stupid to decorate with fake plants. .what a waste of space!! Lol

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:22PM
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Asleep already beat me to it, I was going to say "Little Shop of Horrors." But, "Will and Grace" and "Apollo 13" come to mind. "Will and Grace" always had a Fiddle leaf Ficus outside one of their apartments and Will had a beautiful Sanseveria I kept thinking to myself, "I'll take that!" "Apollo 13," also featured a handful of Sanseveria in one of the wives' homes.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 2:31PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I watch mostly old European movies. Most have a scene somewhere with single Sansevieria in a terra cotta pot. Even mobsters have a single Sansevieria in a corner of a hide-out with no windows and a single incandescent light bulb.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 3:25PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

I've noticed a proliferation of Phalanopsis appearing in tv shows and movies. Unfortunately, it is usually just a boring white one ... Although in an episode of "Dexter", Dexter receives a harlequin Phal (white flowers with irregular maroon or burgundy spots/splotches) from his love. Rather amusingly done considering he is the blood spatter analyst for the shows police department, and of course because of his side "hobby".

PG, not necessarily fake. Even in many hotel lobbies and office buildings it is a common practice to take the robust plants you see and regularly switched them out once they start to decline with new healthy plants. Particularly in some of the larger metropolitan areas, there are greenhouses which cater to the those people who want live plants but don't really want to take care of them. One gent I was chatting with one time mentioned that a 1/3 of his greenhouse was basically rental space. He had clients who would leave their plants with him to care for. When the plant was coming into bloom, he'd give them a call and they'd come and pick it up. When it was done blooming, they would drop it off back with him.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:46PM
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Paul, I forgot about Dexter!! I loved Hannah's green house. Broke my heart when she came back to everything dead.

Rental plants?! I'll have to keep that in mind if I don't get the hang of this, LOL. I can see hotels doing that but normal people in a household? That's like sending your kid to boarding school. A bit extreme of a metaphor but you know what I mean.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:56PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I know the bonsai master (Roy Nagatoshi) who provided the bonsai trees for the original Karate Kid movie. He might not remember me because of all the bonsai people he meets, but I've attended many of his demos & workshops, and helped him do some grafting of Chinese Juniper foliage to old San Jose junipers. He actually even looks a little like Mr. Myogi. BTW, Mr. Myogi gets his name from one of the styles in which bonsai trees are fashioned. 'Myogi', translated from the Japanese = 'informal upright', which is an upright style but with a trunk that has a lazy s-curvature instead of a straight trunk, which would make it a formal upright.

That reminds me - I haven't been over to the bonsai forum in forever.


1 Like    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:16PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

"Jurassic park" Pirates of the caribbean" House plants in an informal setting ?? lol
One that I've always wondered about "Wizard of Oz I don't believe a single one of those plants were real. Would seem easier and cheaper to use the real thing??
" Little shop of Horrors" only movie I can think of where a plant was the star? As to talking most of my plants often talk. "Feed me" Water me". Two demand blood bougainvillea and an Agave always saying" admire me from a distance dummy" lol gary

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:46AM
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Good call on the wizard of oz Gary!
Talking trees and knockout poppies all the way! LOL

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:34AM
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I was watching the dvd of the BBC version of Emma. There were many house plants in both the houses at Donwell and Hartfield. I can't remember specifically what they were, but I think a lot of them probably wouldn't have been available in Georgian England. Kind of reminds me of the Corelle cups that "Eleanor and Franklin" were drinking from in their movie.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 12:02PM
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The office, Jay Leno, And Ellen Show not sure if they are real on the last two .I see movies and Im always commenting on the plants drives my wife crazy.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 5:30AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

aseedisapromise - you're right about the anachronistic plants. When old houses are used as locations, they can't very well remove incongruous plants from the gardens, even if they realise the errors. Which I don't imagine they do. But they could at least try to get the indoor plants right.

Another thing that makes me smile is when a scene is set in winter and they have put fake snow on trees which underneath are in full summer foliage.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 6:03AM
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mrscrazycatlady(4-5 ontario)

Can't remember what I was watching but tv mom watered a plant except there was no water coming from the watering can. I tend to watch for oopsies in shows and typos in books......but my big question is how come no one in TV and movie land ever has to use the rest room?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 2:57PM
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AsarumGreenPanda(z6 MA)

Fun discussion! I always think of A&E's dramatization of the Nero Wolfe mystery novels (novels are by Rex Stout, I think...?). Nero Wolfe raises orchids, and spends several hours every day in his plant room on the top floor of his NYC brownstone. Those are "his" hours and no one is supposed to disturb him up there, but, occasionally, people do, and we get brief glimpses of the orchids. Too brief! I always want the plant-shots to be longer and more in focus, but, instead, if you can imagine, the camera focuses on the *people* in the scene. Too bad. ;) There are a few episodes of this dramatization in which plants have a role in the plot line/mystery, as well.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:58PM
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I always notice the plants (and furniture) in Woody Allen movies. In his movies everyone always lives in the perfect "intellectual" NYC (or other city) apartment, often with mid-century modern furniture and appropriate plants. I'm always jealous of Annie Hall's tiny apartment and roof deck with flowers.

Speaking of California TV houses... growing up in Maine this always used to annoy me! There was never anyone who lived in some old house in some rural or coastal town (save for perhaps Jessica Fletcher and Newhart...) which got real winter weather. Sometimes people would live in other regions to indicate poverty or "working class" status, another race (Good Times, Jeffersons, 227, Family Matters, Cosby Show) or the "Friends" dynamic, but they always tended to be cities. I felt an absolute disconnect from the world TV showed, especially back in the '70s and '80s when there was no internet and there were more regional differences.

This post was edited by lizzie_nh on Fri, Jan 17, 14 at 9:26

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 9:19AM
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If you wanna evoke an Edwardian mood, gotta include...

Kentia palms
Boston ferns, and
an Aspidistra

Cool tolerant plants for cold, British homes of the period.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 4:48PM
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jerseygirl07603 z6NJ

How about Meryl Streep's veggie garden in "It's Complicated"? Now that's my dream garden. And ironic that a garden like that would require much tending but they never show her getting her hands dirty nor does she have the time to do so.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:28AM
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I love the plants in "Psych," which takes place in Santa Barbara California. The shots are usually of lovely saucer magnolias and wisteria in bloom. I'm pretty sure they are real, but it bothers me that they are ALWAYS in bloom, no matter what time of year it is in the show!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 10:32AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Watching some show earlier with DH about people deciding which house to buy in HI. Wow, the stuff that grows in the ground there, my fingers would go numb trying to list them all here.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 4:24PM
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Lol, the topic of this discussion re-affirms my suspicion/hope that I am not crazy...or at least not crazy alone. My husband thinks it so funny when we're on a romantic date, and I point out, notice, or know the names of many of the houseplants in the mall or movies and totally don't pay any attention at all to what most "normal" people do.

This post was edited by rachels.haven on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 22:11

1 Like    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 10:07PM
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This is an interesting topic. I always notice plants in public spaces like malls or restaurants, but I haven't been paying that much attention to the plants on TV. However, after running across this thread, I will pay more attention. :)

    Bookmark   January 28, 2015 at 1:14AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hey, glad this came back up. We were watching Dual Survival about a week ago and they ended up in a dragonfruit orchard. That was cool!

There's a commercial for some kind of toilet paper where 2 boys have TP'd a house & they are hiding behind a giant patch of Heliconia.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2015 at 8:23AM
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In the movie SEABISCUIT: The glowing cherry-red Knock Out roses, that strikingly echo Lucien Laurin's (John Malkovich) golf outfit, the scene that introduces the character. Those roses didn't exist in '73.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2015 at 8:30AM
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In the movie SEABISCUIT: The glowing cherry-red Knock Out roses, that strikingly echo Lucien Laurin's (John Malkovich) golf outfit, the scene that introduces the character. Those roses didn't exist in '73.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2015 at 8:31AM
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samhain10(5a - MI)

Just recently re-watched one of the old Midsomer Murders episodes - "Orchis Fatalis", the plot being that murder and mayhem follow the path of one of the rarest orchids in the world which has been smuggled into the UK by two plant pirates.

At the beginning of the episode, you get to see a number of orchids at an orchid show, then there are scenes in a supposedly wild Borneo jungle - probably some houseplants there that I didn't notice! One of the detectives earns his nickname of "flatfoot" by smashing flat a rare wild orchid the orchid club members were trying to protect on the downs. And saddest of all, an entire collection is maliciously destroyed. Always wonderful plants and gardens to be seen in those Midsomer Murders. And of course, where gardens in general are concerned, there's the murder mystery series Rosemary and Thyme. It's greatest appeal for me is that they are always down on their hands and knees and covered with dirt - looking like real gardeners! :)

    Bookmark   January 28, 2015 at 9:07AM
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Funny we mention knock out roses. My family runs a nursery so we grow up to a hundred thousand a year. It's odd to think that not so long ago they didnt exist!

I love seeing plants in shows that look like they actually belong to someone and not a sparkling perfevct rental from a greenhouse

    Bookmark   January 28, 2015 at 1:19PM
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TV: there was an episode of Sherlock Holmes US that centered around most precious orchid

TV: desperate housewives. Brie had the most exquisite blue
Hydrangeas in her yard. Trouble is: they bloomed 365 days a year , lol.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2015 at 1:29PM
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On Three's Company, the roommates always had plants in the apartment since Janet was a florist. Early in the series (when Suzanne Somers/Chrissy was on it), Janet is watering a plant during the theme song and as she sets it on the window, she accidentally spills water from her watering can on Chrissy while she's sunbathing outside. Mrs. Roper always had plants, too. A lot of the 70's-90's sitcoms featured house plants at some point: ALF, The Facts Of Life, All In The Family, The Brady Bunch, Alice, etc., and there was even an episode of Laverne and Shirley where they get laid off from the brewery and they sell house plants door to door ("Take My Plants, Please").

Brad AKA Moonwolf

    Bookmark   January 28, 2015 at 1:30PM
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This is a fascinating thread. My son told me about a short film where an author with writer's block found that his spider plant was writing scripts for him, and eventually all the baby spider plants were similarly employed - he thinks it was a Stephen Spielberg TV series called Amazing Stories. Does anyone remember it?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 12:42PM
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I've just been told that the film is called 21- inch Sun, and that it's Series 3, Episode 15, of Steven Spielberg's 'Amazing Stories', and that it's 23 mins long and on You Tube.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 12:55PM
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That should have been Series 2, sorry. Anyway, I just watched it, and oh boy, I loved it !

I don't watch TV or films as a rule lately, they're all too 'fast' for me :) but I will watch that again. I loved the main human character too. I'd love to hear other opinions.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 1:48PM
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what about the commercial for flavored water where the office guy explaining how adding different flavors changes everything. Each change in the character also changes the plant on the table in the office cubical.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 3:57PM
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MsGreenFinger GW(8 Ireland)

Remember the rare orchid-like plant Mr Wilson grows in Dennis the Menace movie? It actually is not a real species.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 4:18PM
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I'm always addicted now at trying to ID plants In TV shows..... It's kinda a problem.
On Ellen with her new improved set are any of those real? I know that some are fake but I can't tell if they all are..... She also said they were real but.....My suspicion grows.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 4:21PM
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A bit off topic, but The Wicker Man...

It was filmed on a Scottish Island in November so it was freezing, but the director was trying to evoke the idea of this subtropical paradise, so he bought about half a dozen really fake-looking blossom covered artificial trees to put in the background.

Once you get an eye for them they are everywhere.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 9:25AM
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In Orange is the new black "Joe" one of the warden officials is a succulent nut lol ( I am too no judgement)

they're several scenes with him obsessing over his Jade and Kalanchoe

    Bookmark   February 3, 2015 at 12:43PM
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I really am thrilled to see this post. I pay attention to the presence or absence of plants everywhere, including TV programs. I saw a portion of an episode of Two and a Half Men at a friend's house recently, and the show did little to hold my attention, but there were many large and intriguing plants on the set. I kept saying aloud, "What kind of plant is that?" Jay Leno always had one in the background when he was doing his initial stand-up routine, but I could never identify it or even tell it is was real. It takes me very little time to recognize when I am in a home or room without plants. Are the rest of you much the same???

1 Like    Bookmark   February 5, 2015 at 3:10PM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

This is fascinating. Something I've never paid attention to before but will always pay attention to now.

Unfortunately I don't know the names of many of these plants, but I will now "see" them!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2015 at 9:13PM
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Speaking of Gilligan's Island, there is a lagoon on the Universal Studios lot that looks a lot like the lagoon in the TV show, but they filmed a lot of it in Hawaii, even though the plants they show grow in Southern California - if you water them enough. There is no reason to use fake plants here, as the real ones are prolific enough, and there are plenty of nurseries that cater to the studios. The studios have beautiful outdoor landscaping (my brother works at Sony Studios), and the buildings also have nice indoor plants, although not as nice as the ones outside.

I'll have to start paying more attention to house plants in TV shows, but up till now, they have not made an impression on me.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2015 at 9:52PM
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I watched that spider plant episode on youtube, it was very cute, I felt sad for the guy when he thought the plant died lol only issue is that he called it a philodendron....I liked the ending with all his spider plant friends.

my son played this game not too long ago on the ps3, where the guy was running through the desert area and I kept naming off the type of plants in it, like agaves and aloes....He kept getting mad at me lol.

But I always notice plants in movies and shows...and I noticed the guys jades in Orange is the new Black was very much in need of light, they didn't look good lol.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2015 at 3:45AM
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FlowerPotTipper, I wondered if anyone looked at that little film, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was my first time seeing it and I found it most engaging - perhaps others here had watched it when it originally aired. I didn't pick up on the philodendron bit, but the sound was not very good on my You Tube and I couldn't get it higher. I actually found it moving - my daughter pointed out that it was a revamp of the Little Tailor fairy tale; I suppose there's nothing new under the sun.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2015 at 8:53AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

If anyone has Netflix, there's a documentary series called Wildest Islands that's really cool! It's not only about plants, but there's a lot of info about plants in both of the episodes I've seen so far.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wildest Islands

    Bookmark   February 8, 2015 at 9:36AM
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Did you see the one on sri lanka yet?

I don't have nf,but I found it on you-tube.

Just finished watching it...very nice!

Thanks for the heads-up! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Wildest Islands Sri Lanka

1 Like    Bookmark   February 8, 2015 at 11:22AM
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I watched a whole marathon of that from 10am-5pm once..... Something about those type of shows just make me unable to move..... So I try to stay away from Love nature but it always gets me every now and then.

1 Like    Bookmark   February 8, 2015 at 1:18PM
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eaga(7a Long Island, NY)

Bumping this up to see if anyone knows more about the plant in a Sherlock Holmes movie: Movie plant question

1 Like    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 4:54PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Link to movie with plant.

I watched the first 10 mins (and will prob go back soon to watch the rest of it.) I was cracking up!! That guy is serious about his plants! (Funny part from about 8 mins in until about 10 mins.)

IDK if the Anthurium is a cultivar named 'Magenta' (did they have named cultivars in 1939? IDK) or if that just refers to the flower color.

Wiki has an article on "cultivar" that says the term was invented in 1923 but not published until 1953, so it seems unlikely that the reference to magenta is a cultivar name.

This link supports that it's not in reference to a cultivar name. And you're not the first person to ask the same question.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2015 at 6:13AM
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Paul MI(6)

"TV: there was an episode of Sherlock Holmes US that centered around most precious orchid" ~bossyvossy

If you were referring to the show "Elementary," then I know the episode you mean. It was not a real orchid, though, and the flower was hideous -- looked like a badly mangled Phalanopsis flower. I was surprised the set designer or plant maker didn't do a better job or choose a better flower.

On the mini series "Penny Dreadful" which takes place in 19th century England, there was a scene in which two of the characters were visiting a conservatory (don't recall if it was supposed to be the Kew conservatory) wherein they had come to get a look at the "world's rarest orchid." It was a Paphiopedilum (type of slipper orchid). I cannot recall with any certainty, but I believe the one character said it was Paphiopedilum rothschildianum which is a real orchid. But the plant they showed had the most awful flowers. No self respecting orchid grower would have displayed such a plant. Unsure if the plant was just a poorly made fake or a real but woefully deformed. But Paph. rothschildianum is no longer a terribly rare orchid by any means. I find it unbelievable that the show's set designers could not have found a better example of that orchid. Good chance they could have simply asked one of the England orchid society's if there was a member willing to loan their blooming plant for the scene.

1 Like    Bookmark   February 19, 2015 at 8:48AM
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I remember a while ago I watched some show on either Netflix or Hulu, don't remember which or which show, but I do remember this rich lady had an orchid greenhouse that they showed her in a few times and all she had was moth orchids, and all I could think was why in the world would someone choose to just grow moth orchids when they own such a beautiful greenhouse.... and why not more of the exotic and/or rarer orchids....I would think most people who love orchids and have access to a big greenhouse do grow more then moth orchids in real life....but i had to remind myself that it's a show and I guess they didn't put much thought into details.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2015 at 12:57AM
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