Perhaps because of its almost delicate beauty, it is commonly believed that the elegant orchid is hard to grow. Originally, orchids were sold as cut flowers or were grown by hobbyists, but over time, through the process of hybridization, they've become hardier, longer-lasting, and easier for most gardeners to cultivate. Joe Garcia, of Kerry's Nursery in Homestead, Florida, has been breeding orchids for eleven years. He began with about a dozen plants and today is responsible for growing almost six million each year.
Joe begins the breeding process by selecting the perfect plant. He looks for a short leaf span, extreme branching, and lots of flowers. Every flower is then pollinated by hand. Joe keeps meticulous records of his cross-pollination so that he can repeat the successful ones. After the ripening period is complete, the pods are harvested, identified with plant tags, and sent to labs in Thailand and India that specialize in germinating orchid seeds. The process from seed harvest to plantlet takes approximately one year.
Learn more about Kerry's Nursery.