Orchids grow on the surface of other plants. They have some distinctive features - some are long and some are thin, some bloom and some do not. Their colours, fragrances and durability also vary.
In Bandarban, two orchid lovers are growing rare orchids on their balcony as a hobby, but there is also a prospect for growing them commercially.
The correspondent in the Kalaghata area found different varieties of orchids being grown in a yard of a house. Their colours and fragrances have spread all over the yard.
Three people were seen working in the yard. They were watering the plants and removing snails from the leaves.
Amir Hossain Noyon, a 48-year-old orchid lover in Kalaghata, grows various rare varieties of orchids on his balcony.
The orchid lover, who is a teacher by profession, said he saw some beautiful flowers on a tree near Boga Lake in Rumah. He cut and brought some of the plants from there.
He planted them in a flower tub. Flowers appeared after three months and the fragrances spread. He did not know those were orchids, but when he learnt what they were, he never looked back.
He began collecting different varieties of orchids and found their names from Google and different Facebook groups. Now orchid collecting has turned into a passion.
He started with only 10 to 15 species, but now he has more than 54 species. He has spent Tk4 lakh on his collection so far. He plans to make a garden when his collection reaches 220 species.
He also plans to decorate the garden and take it to the commercial level if he gets an agriculture loan.
Another orchid lover, Ma Mya Yee, a resident of Ujani Para, is an officer at the Royangchhari upazila office. He has collected 40 species of orchids so far.
He said he thought these plants were parasites, so he never paid any attention to them before. After learning that these are orchids, he started collecting them. His passion for them grew even more when he learnt that these are rare varieties.
Deforestation is also resulting in damage to orchids.
Ma Mya Yee said he grows both local and hybrid varieties of orchids. Local ones survive longer than hybrid ones because these varieties are short-lived and require more care. Besides, it costs Tk1500 to Tk2000 to collect an orchid.
He wants to use his five years of experiences to cultivate the flowers commercially. He has contacted some local orchid collectors and some collectors in Dhaka. He earned around Tk50,000 by selling the plants in the last eight months.
Ma Mya Yee said orchid lovers offer good money for the plants. He plans to open a sales and display centre from next December considering the prospect of the business.
He gets an increasing number of visitors at his garden. Some take pictures while others come to enjoy the beautiful flowers. Many visitors ask Ma Mya Yee for advice on making a garden in their houses. He gets a lot of visitors, especially on Fridays.
Dawmey Ching and Hla Hla Thing, two visitors said they did not realise that people can make gardens with collected flowers.
Jinnat Ara Fatema, a student, said she has never seen flowers of so many species before.
The orchid collectors have formed a Facebook group named "Hill Orchid Society."
Sathowai Marma is the administrator and convener of the group. He said he once came across some rare kinds of orchids when he was on his way from Boga Lake to Keokradong in Bandarban. He collected some flowers from there.
Unfortunately, some people cut the main tree. Some dishonest traders root out the plants and sell them in India's Mizoram and Myanmar states. The members of the group said they want to raise awareness about protecting these rare species.
He further said different varieties of orchids grow differently. Some grow at the base of the tree, some in the middle. Some orchids also grow in watery areas.
"There is also the risk of killing the plants if the orchids are not collected properly," he said.
The Department of Agriculture Extension says that orchids thrive in warm and humid weather, and grow well in loamy soil. Orchids require special care. They do not grow well in scorching heat or in the shade.
Dr AKM Nazmul Haque, the deputy director of the Agriculture Extension Department told The Business Standard that though there is commercial prospect for growing orchids, the cultivation is aimed at buyers with delicate taste.
He further said the agriculture department provides them with advice on how to look after these plants.