Richard Ng: Orchid Breeder

As the greenhouse door slides open, orchids of varying hues sway gently in the cool air-conditioned breeze. The founder of Seremban Orkid Nursery in Mambau, Mr Richard Ng, strolls among the neat rows of flowers. “Its leaves uphold righteousness, its flowers bloom unpretentiously.” Drawn in by the refinement of “the gentleman of flowers”, Richard dedicated 27 industrious years to orchids, starting from growing orchids as a hobby to undertaking research in breeding techniques.
Orchids belong to the plant family Orchidaceae, home to over 20,000 species which can be crudely classified into native and hybrid. Native orchids grow naturally in the wild, taking on diverse forms due to different climate types; hybrid orchids are created by crossing genus or species, usually cultivated in vitro. Orchids look attractive, Phalaenopsis being a popular choice for home decoration due to its flowers resembling a butterfly in flight. Certain orchids have medicinal properties, for instance Dendrobium Officinale is known to regulate metabolism, one of the ten most valuable traditional chinese medicine herbs.
In Richard’s nursery, thousands of orchid species are being mass propagated within five greenhouses dedicated to germination and two evaporative cooling greenhouses, catering to orchid enthusiasts. Through his daily toil, Richard gained much experience and knowledge, building a strong foundation for breeding improved species. It is very difficult for orchid seeds to germinate naturally, whereas they proliferate under sterile conditions in a culture medium. However, breeding to produce exotic colours or interspecific hybridization may have up to 90% chance of inviability.
Orchid breeding involves selection of parents for cross-pollination, with the pollen donor as the father and the seed bearer as the mother. The pollen is extracted from the stamen and transferred into the stigma, then the mother plant is labelled with the pollination date and accurate genetic information. After fertilization, a seed pod will form and mature in five to six months. Orchid seed germination takes place in a sterile environment where the tiny, dust-like seeds are obtained from the pod and dispersed into flasks containing a culture medium. As the seedlings reach a certain size, they are deflasked and potted, yet requiring at least another year’s care until the first bloom.
Ater the first flowering, new hybrid orchids can be registered to an international registration authority such as the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) or American Orchid Society (AOS). To date, Richard has successfully breeded over 3,800 new orchid species, including one named after himself, Dendrobium Richard Ng, Seremban O.N. He is also active in orchid conservation, efficiently propagating native and endangered species.
Growing orchids is both relaxing and satisfying. Every day, Richard Ng observes the growth status of orchids in the nursery, and water, fertilize, or trim flower spikes according to their needs. His son assists him in sales affairs, expanding the business globally through online marketplace. Richard, who is in his seventies, smiles like a blooming flower as he watches over his beloved orchids.

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang / Michael Lerk
Drone : Daniel Lim
Video Editor : Michael Lerk
Copywriter : Pua Hui Wen


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