Monday, April 1, 2013

Orchid Enthusiasts Show Their Best In San Diego


Cymbidium, Ena Henry Five Star
 are exotic, 

vibrant, colorful and, well, such a captivating species of plants.

Captivated. That is exactly how I felt at the orchid show in San Diego, March 24, walking through a room full of brilliant blooms--a combination of nature and the best gardening efforts of amateurs and professionals alike--all vying for my attention at the same time.

Like fireworks, the Phalaenopsis (above) shoots up tall stems with large, round disc-like bursts of color at the top. These are the orchids I most often see in florist shops and supermarkets.

Dendrobium 'Golden Arch'
But there are so many others in the world of orchids, such as this Dendrobium that cascades down with multiple clusters of small, wispy blossoms, also exploding with color.

Dendrobium kingianum
And I never tire of simple white flowers against dark green leaves.

Dendrobium Nobile hybrid
My own experience with orchids is limited.  At home, I have five Phalaenopsis orchids and, while I am happy I can at least maintain healthy base leaves on this plant, only one has re-bloomed in the past year or two that I have been nurturing them. I want those gorgeous flowers to bloom again, so I jumped at the opportunity last month to up my game and attended a workshop hosted by a member of the San Diego Horticultural Society.

  It was held in the garden (shown above) of Jim Wright in San Diego. He is known in the community for his love of tropical plants, including orchids, palms (noting he has 50 varieties),


and tillandsias like this

and this beauty in a head planter.

For over 40 years, Wright has built a tropical paradise in his typical city lot and when he exceeded capacity for plants there, he purchased the house next door to expand his gardening hobby. It is conservatory-like in its ambiance and, indeed, as someone remarked on the tour, even a little Jurassic Park.

Jim Wright
and his greenhouse
He spoke about repotting, the need to sterilize tools, and the mix he uses to pot orchids.  We toured two greenhouses on his property that house hundreds of orchids, tillandsias and bromeliads.  It was in the greenhouse where we came across a phalaenopsis, when Mr. Wright acknowledged that it is not his favorite orchid to grow.

Instead, he recommends growing Dendrobium delicatum (above), his orchid of choice.  But I could see why. Although I knew nothing about this variety until that moment, even to my untrained eye, this plant sure did seem perfect. It grows wide and somewhat low to the ground,

and is covered with clusters of small, elegant white blooms. Mr. Wright has a long history of entering plants in orchid shows and mentioned his plan to enter this one in the upcoming March 24th show.

So while I was at the show, when I approached a Dendrobium delicatum on a table that was covered with a  few awards, I was happy to confirm my suspicion that it was the same plant I had admired in Jim Wright's garden.

And I knew that it would be a plant I wanted in my own back yard. Luckily, I found three small delicatum pups in the sale room and they now have a spot on my patio.  As for my Phalaenopsis plants at home, I have vowed to improve the fertilization regimen to see if I can motivate them to bloom again.

Now, if I can just get my hands on a head planter with tillandsia hair...

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2013 by Jeannine. All rights reserved.


  1. So many gorgeous blooms there Jeannine, but have to say my favourite were the bromeliads!

  2. Hi Jeannine, great interesting post! I had the pleasure to visit Mr. Wright's garden, I think two years ago and it certainly was a very impressive experience. It is amazing what he did in a suburban city lot. As for the orchids, they are a fascinating group of plants for sure. I successfully grow two beautiful cymbidium orchids outside, but have killed every phalaenopsis that entered my house so far. :-(. I blame the low humidity in San Diego. Good luck with your delicatum pups!

  3. Beautiful orchids...and that head planter is gorgeous. I also have no luck getting Phalenopsis to rebloom, but the cymbidiums rebloom like crazy here in Santa Barbara. The more I ignore them the better they do. My daughter lives in Brooklyn and has a Pahlenopsis that had bloomed 5 years in a row now...she says they have to get really cold each night...better chance of that in NY than here in Cali. She puts hers up against the window and it reblooms every December.


  4. Hi Jeannine, best wishes for your new delicatum pups! Mr. Wright's garden is amazing; at first I thought it must e a public garden! And yes, I could imagine a little dinosaur peaking through the foliage!


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