But... buyers beware! If you are determined to acquire your orchid from one of these sources, this article is just for you. I will give you a little advice and some tips on what to look out for when you are shopping for your "bargain" orchid.
Orchids sold by professional growers or reputable nurseries are always clearly labeled, handled, and shipped with care. Instructions on the care of each species or hybrid purchased are most always included with the sale. Growers can also answer your specific questions concerning your new plant. At a discount store however, you may purchase an orchid and in some cases, not even know what species or even genera you are buying. Is it a Dendrobium
, or a Oncidium
, or what? Don't be surprised if the sales person doesn't have a clue about the plant other than what is on the tag... "Orchid Plant."
Why is it so important to know what kind of orchid it is? Because each genus and, in some cases, species within a genus, may require very different environments to thrive. So how can you care for it if you have no idea what it is? The answer is, you can't.
Shippers often repot the orchids just before shipment to the stores. The problem with this practice is twofold. Repotting
is often traumatizing to well establish plants, frequently damaging their root systems in the process. Secondly, the shipper often repots the plants using water retaining "shipping" mix to prevent the plants from drying out during their long transit. Inexperienced buyers see this medium and think the orchid is supposed to be growing in this "dirt" or moss.
The repotting is also done at the very worst time of the plants life... while the plant is in bloom! The shock of the repotting often causes the buds and flowers to start falling off the spike soon after they arrive in the stores (the blooms also drop due to the drastic change in environment, lack of watering, or over watering by the store employees). Finally, the shipper wraps the "ugly" pot with some "pretty paper" to make the plant appear more appealing (and sometimes concealing plant damage in the process). After all, the shipper wouldn't do anything to harm the plant... now would they?? Customers love the pretty paper, so they do not remove it after purchasing the orchid. The paper causes the already saturated shipping medium to become water logged because there is no way for the excess water to drain away.
In many cases your bargain orchid has been through a lot before you happen to walk by it in the store. Have you ever watched corner flower peddlers selling roses on the street? If so, you may observe them peeling petals off the roses every hour or so to keep them looking fresh. By day’s end, the once big plump beautiful red roses are now little tiny buds... but they DO look fresh.