There is a single bloom left on the yellow-green Phaleonopsis orchid that grows in the window of our master bathroom. I don’t know how much longer this flower will last, for the blooms last a very long time and give little indication they are about to decline. This orchid was sent to me by Costa Farms back in February, arriving the day that Costa Farms was the guest host on #gardenchat on Twitter. Not coincidentally, the #gardenchat topic that week was orchid care. The marketing folks at Costa Farms made sure that many of the bloggers who frequent #gardenchat had an orchid of their own before the live event.
Just a couple of weeks after that #gardenchat event, I was invited down to Miami to take part in the Costa Farms Social Summit, a day-long event where we had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Costa operation.
One of the first stops on the tour was the orchid house, a five-acre glass greenhouse where more than 600,000 orchids grow in close quarters. As we came around the corner from the packing and shipping area, the view of that many orchids was simply breathtaking. I’ve always considered orchids a specialty plant; seeing them in such mass quantities was nearly surreal.
In the orchid house, Dr. Kate Santos (Costa director of research and development) gave us a crash course in orchid care. Costa’s orchid care education program, called Orchids Are Easy, tries to dispel the common belief that orchids are difficult to grow. According to Dr. Kate, as long as orchids are given the proper light, water, humidity and fertilizer, they can be successfully grown in the home environment.
Nearly all of the orchids grown by Costa (in partnership with United Orchids) are Phaelenopsis orchids. I asked why there wasn’t a larger variety of orchid types, and was told that most retailers demand that orchids are in a particular state of flower when they reach the stores. Phaelenopsis are not only easy to grow for the consumer, but they are also more predictable and reliable when it comes to timing their flower sequence.
Samples of each of the Phaelenopsis that Costa grows were assembled on a table where we gathered. Colors included yellow, pink, white and purple with patterns to diverse to describe.
Greenhouse manager Juan Garcia brought me out through the growing tables to show me a few of the more outstanding varieties.
Each morning when I see my own Costa Farms orchid, I’m pleasantly reminded of the awe I felt when I first turned the corner into the orchid house and stood among the splendor that is 400,000 orchids in simultaneous bloom.
Costa Farms provided for my travel and lodging expenses in conjunction with the Costa Farms Social Summit. There was no requirement that I blog about my experiences. My experience with people and plants of Costa Farms has been nothing short of spectacular. They are truly a special company.