Brooklyn Orchids

Orchid Spotting in South Florida

Yesterday I posted photos from my visit to R.F. Orchids, a lovely orchid nursery and showroom in Homestead, Florida. Today I’d like to share with you the rest of the orchids I photographed throughout our travels in Miami and the Florida Keys. Lots and lots of photos ahead!

Within an hour of arriving in Miami’s South Beach, we were eating lunch on the sidewalk at The Pelican when I spotted two orchids (probably Oncidiums) mounted on a nearby tree trunk:

It's kinda sad-looking, but I do see a couple new growths!
It’s kinda sad-looking, but I do see a couple new growths!

Another orchid mounted to the tree.
Another orchid mounted to the tree.

These orchids got me super excited even though they both looked like they weren’t in great shape. Then we checked into our hotel (the Avalon—the one with the super cool retro car perma-parked out front) and there was a display of Phals at the front desk:

Avalon Hotel front desk orchids
Avalon Hotel front desk orchids

When we got to our room, we were greeted with this lovely Phal:

Avalon room orchid
Avalon room orchid

Here’s a closer look at one of those blooms:

Avalon room bloom
Avalon room bloom

What a great welcome to South Beach, right?

From Miami, we drove down to the Keys for a few nights at Ocean House in Islamorada (I highly recommend this 8-room inn, BTW!). Ocean House also had orchids in the rooms, as well as around the property for decoration:

Our Ocean House room orchid
Our Ocean House room orchid
More Ocean House orchids
More Ocean House orchids

After a really nice, relaxing time in Islamorada we headed on down to Key West, where we found orchids galore! The first ones I spotted were mounted on trees at the Eduardo H. Gato House—one of which was a huge, beautiful blooming Cattleya. I literally gasped with surprise when I saw it:

Gato House Catt
Gato House Catt
Non-blooming Gato House orchid. Looks like a Dendrobium, no?
Non-blooming Gato House orchid. Looks like a Dendrobium, no?
Gato House blooming Phal, seen the next evening.
Gato House blooming Phal, seen the next evening.

Then we were taking a stroll in the rain past the Audubon House and I spotted orchids mounted on a tree in the garden:

Audubon House orchids
Audubon House orchids

Since it was raining, we did some indoor sightseeing at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory and found some more orchids there:

Looks like a Vanda up top and maybe a Maxillaria tenufolia down on the left.
Looks like a Vanda up top and maybe a Maxillaria tenufolia down on the left.
Vertical orchid display at the Key West Butterfly Conservatory
Vertical orchid display at the Key West Butterfly Conservatory

After the butterflies, we went to the Hemingway Home—partly to see the famous 6-toed cats—and I found this lonely Phal growing on a tree in the garden:

Phalaenopsis at Hemingway Home
Phalaenopsis at Hemingway Home

I would be remiss if I didn’t post a photo of one of the 6-toed residents:

So handsome.
So handsome.

The next day was much better weather-wise so we went to the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, a small but very nice place. Before we even entered the visitor center to pay our entry fee, we were greeted with several small orchids (including Tolumnias) mounted to this gnarly wood:

Small mounted orchids at the botanical garden
Small mounted orchids at the botanical garden

When orchid-spotting, remember to always look up! I cannot stress this enough. I think we orchid nerds need our own hashtag: #alwayslookup. I found these guys way up high on a tree trunk:

Orchids mounted on high; maybe another Dendrobium.
Orchids mounted on high; maybe another Dendrobium.

The garden also had a Cattleya bench, which I obviously need when I (someday) have a yard:

Orchid Bench
Orchid Bench

This Phalaenopsis was, somewhat oddly, mounted on a piece of bark which was then attached to a tree trunk. That’s sort of like putting hummus on falafel, amirite?  😛  I guess they grow the orchid elsewhere and then when it blooms they march it out for display.

Phal in Bloom
Phal in Bloom

I believe this next orchid is a Maxillaria tenufolia, which has blooms that smell strongly of coconut. If you’ve never seen or smelled one in bloom, you simply must. The fragrance is incredible. EDIT: Reader Stefano pointed out that this next orchid looks more like some sort of Brassavola, which I think is probably right! My strikethrough comment about the Maxillaria tenufolia fragrance still stands, though. 🙂

A Maxillaria?
A Maxillaria?

We spotted orchids mounted to tree trunks randomly around town during our nighttime strolls, too, like this lucky home that had a ton of Phals in bloom, bud, and spike—I hope the owners don’t mind my photographing their yard!

So many Phals in someone's front yard!
So many Phals in someone’s front yard!
I'm soooo jealous of all the blooms they're about to have!
I’m soooo jealous of all the blooms they’re about to have!

Blue Heaven is a restaurant that was recommended to us by just about everyone we asked, so we tried to have dinner there on a Friday night. The wait was an hour and a half so we went elsewhere (a really great Colombian spot called Bliss), but before we left I saw this potted Dendrobium growing in the yard.

Dendrobium at Blue Heaven
Dendrobium at Blue Heaven

Just walking around town rewards you with random orchid spottings:

Phal in bloom at another hotel
Phal in bloom at another hotel
Oncidium at the same hotel
Oncidium at the same hotel

There’s even a hotel called the Orchid Key Inn:

Do my eyes deceive me or does that sign say "Vacansy?"
Do my eyes deceive me or does that sign say “Vacansy?”

On our final night we had dinner at nine one five, a really great restaurant on Duval Street. We were seated in the front yard and lo and behold, they had some gorgeous red Vandas in bloom alongside the house. I tried to take photos of them, but they were super blurry and are not worth posting here. Needless to say, if you’re in Key West, go check this place out (for the food, too!). In this photo, you can see one of the Vandas spotlit way over on the right side just above and to the right of the guy with the red shirt.  🙂

nine one five
nine one five

By this point you probably think our vacation was all about orchids. In fact, it was also about, food (Key Lime Pie!), cocktails and wine, Key West ghosts, animals—including cats, turtles, tarpon, chickens, butterflies, deer, sharks, and even Portuguese Man of War!—and, of course, the incredibly beautiful scenery of the Florida Keys:

View from the bridge at Bahia Honda State Park
View from the bridge at Bahia Honda State Park

As always, thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Orchid Spotting in South Florida

  1. I would say it is definitely a Brassavola species or some hybrid where some Brassavola is a parent, not a Maxillaria tenuifolia. Did you get to see any native orchids like Encyclia tampensis (saw many in the Everglades near Homestead on the road to the Flamingo – I did not make it there, i wanted to see some crocodiles but I could not make it all the way to the ocean). Lots of Tillandsias, Encyclias and alligators though.

    1. Oh! Now that you mention it, I can totally see that it could be a Brassavola. That seems more accurate than Maxillaria. We didn’t get to see any native orchids—or gators—unfortunately. We didn’t do any Everglades sightseeing. Next time! 🙂

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