Paul, whose family originally grew orchids on their rooftop as a hobby, have turned it into a business. Paul’s major at university was in agriculture. He says Bliss is his favorite client (thanks Paul!)
A market for rare orchids still exists. But that has been on decline since the mid-20th century when horticulturalists figured out how to clone orchids from tissue cells.
For centuries prior, growing orchids was something of a mystery. Their dust-like seeds would sprout only if they landed on particular types of fungus. They grew best clinging to trees or rocks, instead of dirt, in the jungles of Southeast Asia and South America. In Victorian Europe, wealthy collectors in pursuit of new breeds hired orchid hunters.
When we talked to Paul, our grower, he showed off a large orchid plant with seven spotless white blooms cascading down a central stem, Paul pointed to the four pairs of leathery green leaves, which show that the plant had taken four years to reach that size.
We asked him how we could take care of these orchids. This is what he had to say:
“Do not put an orchid near a window that can get too hot in the afternoon and north-facing ones are usually too dark. A sheer curtain will cast light shade. Too much direct light causes leaves to sunburn - so it may be necessary to re-position plants as the seasons change. Move plants away from or toward the window to manipulate the amount of light. Make sure the leaves are not touching the glass. In winter in a cold climate, leaves touching the windowpane may freeze.
Leaf color indicates if the amount of light is adequate. The lush, rich, dark green of most houseplants is not desirable in orchid leaves. A grassy green color (light or medium green with yellowish tones) means the plant is receiving sufficient light to bloom
Orchids need to be fed regularly. Paul, our grower, suggest using a "balanced" fertilizer such as 20-20-20 that includes all "necessary trace elements." Orchids will do far better with too little fertilizer than with too much. Many growers recommend the "weakly, weekly" approach, applying a dilute (1/4 strength) fertilizer each time they water, rather than applying a full dose once a month. Also, it is best not to fertilize a completely dry plant as the fertilizer can burn the dry roots. Water first and then resort to a fertilizer solution.”