Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tour de Farm #4, Secret Orchids

I have yet to meet someone who does not appreciate a beautiful orchid plant.  It’s the plant I bring to my seamstress each time some wonderful work flows from her hands, and she tells me that she thinks of me each time she looks at those flowers, for many many weeks.  It can grace a sunny window with its arching beauty without taking up a lot of space.  It says Beauty and Simplicity and Zen to me…how about you?


Today Raquel and I had the honor of visiting one of San Diego’s premier orchid growers.  There are other specialty orchid farms in San Diego and near Santa Barbara that I’d like to visit, but this farm happens to sell at two farmers markets we know, so we were welcomed warmly by the owner and her cousin. And were we ever in for a treat!  There were some conditions which we were asked to respect; no photos of faces, no technicals, no details…


The farm specializes in the phalaenopsis, versus the cymbidium or other orchid varieties.  The base plants come from Taiwan, without flowers, due to a special agricultural trade agreement.  I knew that, as I have been told that the Trader Joe’s Orchids come from Taiwan.  “Seconds,” I am now told, for their relatively low bloom count.  Today we saw the plants at all stages of their growth, including these, newly arrived and sitting in relatively shaded light to let them acclimate~


Orchids have become a highly technical product.  They are cloned in Taiwan and the baby plants developed in the lab.  Huge business.  The plant takes six months to develop its blooms, and here we see a set of plants with the blooms far enough along to stake them up~


I was amazed at the sea of orchids, all so similar….cloning is part of that, though the plants are fed organically, mostly fish emulsion~


The property was a long series of adjoined greenhouses; acres of orchids, more than 100,000 orchids at all stages and in all colors~


Temperature and humidity are carefully controlled; here you see the fine automated mist that falls if the humidity drops; so fine it does not spot the leaves~


While some orchid growers favor bark chips, the best medium is now peat moss.  Check the top and the bottom of the pot; if both are dry then you should water the plant~


Ventilation is also important; notice the fans above and in the sides of the greenhouse, which open up automatically when the temperature is too hot~


Room after room of orchids, which turn their faces to the light like a sunflower; you can see the huge fan in back which is in the wall; obviously ideal conditions~


This flower is the standard, it is called White.  White petals with yellow lips~




And more Wow….room after room stuffed with perfection ready to ship~


We saw so many colored varieties today I can’t begin~


Velvety, vibrant;


this one is called cherry blossom~


these many varieties are destined for the LA Flower Mart and high-end florists in SoCal, potted and cut~


as well as grocery stores, for the seconds, not these, but the plants with few blooms~


Not to mention these minis, in bridal bouquets +++~


They were all SO pretty~


Bright filtered light and some humidity are ideal conditions for these orchids;


This plant has four stalks of blooms on a single plant!  One stalk is OK, two is better.  Ten or more blooms per stalk is top quality.  This plant is phenomenal, and will be placed by the farm owner with a special client. 


At the end of the tour, my new friend the owner gave me a big hug and two enormous plants to take home.  I left her with two pink baskets for her and her cousin.  I love to see these farms, and can’t wait to special order some amazing orchids for me and my friends….email me if you are local….


  1. Andrea, my very favorite orchid species in all of its glory. What a science in its propagation , the care and climate control. The various color in this variety.

    I have never seen one as in the last image with that many blooms!

    As I mentioned today, this makes me yearn for time in San Diego to be taking these tours with

    I hope you will come and see the feature I have on an amazing sculptor.

    Art by Karena
    The 2012 Artist Series

  2. What a beautiful field trip ~ I'm so envious. if only I lived closer! These one of my favorite blooms and have them in my home whenever they are available in our area.

    Have a wonderful day ~

  3. No wonder these beautiful orchids wither and die within weeks or entering my home. Despite their cost and my lack of indoor gardening skills, I continue to purchase them when they are available. I love the form of the flowers and the architecture of the plants.

  4. Lovely post Andrea, I have many Phaelenopsis in my home, many re-bloomers. One of my favorite varieties is the yellow with pink phalie. Not only is it very pretty it also bloom longer than other varieties.
    There is no reason why phalies "wither and die" within weeks, especially now that the plants come packed with moss rather than bark chips. Phalies need very little care in the home. Flush water through once a week or twice a week in very dry conditions and place in either north or east facing window. Keep away from heat or cold drafts.

  5. I, like everyone else, love them. What a wonderful place to visit. I am curious why we have to import them. Is there nobody here who can start cloning them?
    Reading Gina's comment has me wondering how to get them to re-bloom. The longest I have been able to keep one is 3 months. Suppose it's our harsh heat, even indoors.

  6. Isn't that an incredible place?? The orchids are breath taking! And like a sea of white flowers. Thanks for sharing a beautiful post. I've visited an Orchid farm in Santa Barbara and it took me over an hour to choose a couple just for some friends because there were so many gorgeous choices!

  7. OH, what a fantastic afternoon, my gosh they are awesome. That's my kind of day. Wish I could work there and learn how to stop killing my Orchids.
    Thanks for this post. yvonne

  8. Sorry, they do nothing tfor me. And, it is heartbreaking to see one more example of mass-produced and cloned natural horticultural products made rather worthless after all. It takes away their value as they are not made as they once were (found naturally):like mass-produced, scentless roses now.

  9. proof once again, Mother Nature is the most incredible artist:) Beautiful post - thank you.

  10. I love this post and I learned a lot from it...seconds...hmmm. I love that your focus is close to my area, So Cal.
    Can't wait to see your baskets in person and I LOVE the orange basket you sent to Kelley at Polished Pebble! So perfect for this spring!
    xo, Chris

  11. Although I love all flowers orchids have always seemed a bit...snooty? :) How wonderful to see a farm of them though.
    Sorry I missed your call. I currently have on my plate:
    Alyssa's birthday (4th) and all that encompasses.
    Easter and all that encompasses.
    My anniversary.
    My grandmother's 90th birthday party (19th)which I am doing all the planning long distance and will have one day to pull together when I arrive late in Minnesota on the 17th.
    Updating the DTA FB page as FB has a new timeline layout which I HATE!
    You may have noticed that I have signed with new advertisers so the pressure is on to produce even more blog content.
    Then there is the everyday~ dinner, soccer practice, cub scouts, etc.
    And the yucky is still holding strong. :(
    I PROMISED Eric that we would do the taxes this afternoon. I have put him off 3 times now. Of course we are now running out of time. So alas I will not be able to participate in the meeting. So sorry.
    This weekend we will begin looking for a car for Alyssa and making plans as to when we will head to CA. I'll keep you posted.

  12. Andrea:I am a big fan, and keep them in my house. I am trying to figure out how to get them to re-bloom. I suppose I have to feed them? Thanks for visiting!

  13. Lovely!! In our corner of the world, we place the orchids in oak and palms...there they bloom for years and years! Love perusing your wonderful blog....and feel like making the dijon chicken today!!

  14. Andrea these are beautiful.. I saw the gentlemen at the Rancho Santa Fe market with them last time I went. Next time I want to get a few white ones!
    Happy Spring*

  15. OH I guess I never pondered how these beautiful blooms were grown before they landed in my favorite garden shops here in Birmingham. I have some nice blossoms that I plan to post on my B'ham blog one day soon. I shall link to your wonderful post!