Thursday, March 19, 2009

Choosing the Right Orchid for You

One of the main reasons some people fail with orchids is that they simply choose the wrong ones. Considering that there are thousands of different kinds of orchids, it’s easy to see how people may not know which one to buy. To be successful, you need to choose a dependable supplier, healthy plants, and the type of orchid that fits your growing area. In this chapter, I walk you through the important questions to ask yourself and your supplier so you end up with the orchid that will be just right in your growing spot.

Figuring Out Where to Shop
Finding orchid suppliers used to be difficult, unless you were lucky enough to live in a very warm area, like Southern California or Florida. Nowadays, because orchids have skyrocketed in popularity, you can find them for sale in myriad places. In the following sections, I fill you in on your supplier options.

Specialist orchid growers or suppliers
An orchid specialist is always my first choice when I’m buying orchids. Reputable suppliers in this category have been selling orchids for many years, before it was the chic thing to do. Almost all of them are orchid fanatics whose hobby grew totally out of control — so they were forced to either stop buying more orchids or start up a business. They know everything about their plants — where they came from, their attributes, and how to grow them. They almost always have the largest selection and cater to both the beginner and sophisticated, experienced growers. They love to help other people discover the pleasure of growing orchids and are full of helpful information.

The only disadvantage of specialist growers or suppliers is that you may not have one near where you live. Of course, that doesn’t have to be a deterrent. It just means you’ll need to do some planning and search out these growers so you can take your own orchid-buying safari!

Turn to the appendix for a short list of some of my favorite specialist orchid growers andsuppliers.

Your local garden center
Having a local orchid source is very convenient both for buying the plants and for information on growing. Today, garden centers offer more unusual and more interesting plants than ever before — and orchids are among these. The types of orchids they offer varies greatly from one garden center to the next.

Look for a garden center that specializes in tropical plants and houseplants. Unless the garden center is noted for its orchid offerings, the selection will probably be limited. Search out the types mentioned in this book, especially the moth and slipper orchids.

Orchid shows
At orchid shows, you’ll find dazzling displays of a broad range of gorgeous orchids. Be prepared to be wowed! Vendors of orchids are a regular feature of orchid shows, so they’re a great place to shop. To find an orchid show in your area, check out the various orchid magazines or search their Web sites (see the appendix).

Online orchid suppliers
You can buy a fine selection of orchids without ever leaving your home. Most orchid suppliers now have Web sites, and some of the sites are very detailed and informative.

To get started, check out the Orchid Marketplace at Orchid Mall. Each of these sites provides many links to various orchid grower Web sites. If you already know what types of orchids you want, you can use a search engine (such as Yahoo! or Google) to search for them by type or name.

If you use the Latin name when searching for plants on the Web, not the common name, you’ll get many more hits. In other words, instead of searching for “moth orchids,” search using its Latin name, Phalaenopsis. Check out for lists of the Latin names with their English common names.

Home centers and discount stores
Because orchids have had such a meteoric rise in popularity, home centers and discount stores now frequently stock a limited selection of them. The good news: They usually carry the orchids that are easy to grow. The bad news: Getting information at these stores is difficult. But if you’re shopping for your first, inexpensive orchid, and if you don’t have easy access to a garden center or orchid grower, these are good places to start.

When shopping for plants at home centers and discount stores, find out what day of the week their weekly shipments come in. That’s the day you want to be there to get the best quality and selection.

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