Over the holidays last year I received a lovely gift from my in-laws: a gift certificate for Santa Barbara Orchid Estate. My husband and I visited the place way back in May 2011; it was my first ever visit to an orchid nursery, and I loved it. I didn’t buy anything when we visited because I was worried about transporting orchids safely on a plane (which I have since done successfully). So I was excited to have the opportunity to have some orchids shipped directly to me from the estate!
I spent some time browsing the massive selection on the sborchid.com website, which can be very overwhelming if you’re approaching it without specific orchids in mind. I narrowed my search by looking mostly at the orchids listed as “Beginner” on top of the left column of the site. I further narrowed my options by looking at the “Indoor” and “Windowsill” orchids within the “Beginner” choices. Too many options leave me paralyzed with indecision so I’m happy that the website helped me focus on just a few rather than hundreds (or possibly even thousands!) of orchids.
When I emailed my order to the company I said I was open to substitutions, and based on the amount of money I was working with from the gift certificate they recommended a couple orchids other than the ones I initially requested. I ended up getting three orchids, which arrived yesterday, well packaged and each in one piece. One of them even arrived with a fully intact bloom!
The first orchid is a Cattleya Mrs. Herbert Greaves:
As you can see, this orchid has two newer growths. SB Orchids recommended this one over the beginner Cattleya that I had initially picked out, because it should offer better blooms. You can’t tell from the above photo, but each of the young growths has the beginnings of a sheath developing in between the leaves. This orchid cross generally blooms sometime between August and September, so hopefully I’ll be able to coax my plant to put those flowers out for me! The blooms are pale to medium pink with yellow and white inside the ruffled lip. I have tried growing a Cattleya or two in the past and they didn’t make it, but I’m obviously willing to try again. Maybe Mrs. Herbert Greaves will be the magic Catt for me.
The second orchid I got is an Encyclia cochleata—another recommendation by SB Orchid Estate for indoor growing. I was a little hesitant to orchid this orchid because I’ve had one in the past and it never bloomed for me, nor did it even survive my care. But I’m up for the challenge of growing a second one.
The Encyclia arrived with a sheath that has some developing spikes, which gives me an leg up on achieving blooms! You can see the burgeoning spikes a little better in this photo:
This orchid is a June-July bloomer. Judging from the progress of the spikes, I imagine mine won’t bloom until later in July, but we’ll see how this goes. I absolutely LOVE Encyclia cochleata blooms—they don’t look like your typical flower. This orchid has many nicknames: Clamshell Orchid, Cockleshell Orchid, Black Orchid, and Octopus Orchid. See why?
The Angraecum didieri I received is the smallest of the three orchids, but it arrived with a nice-sized, if slightly faded bloom.
Here’s a closer look at that beautiful flower, which is practically bigger than the plant itself:
The blooms are fragrant at night, and when I first showed my husband this orchid the night I received it he sniffed it and declared that it had a cinnamon or nutmeg scent. He’s definitely better than I am at identifying fragrances, so I tend to agree with his assessment!
This genus is a totally new one for me to grow, so I did a little research on how to care for it on orchidweb.com. According to the site, Angraecum didieri is “tough as nails,” so I hope that means it’ll be difficult for me to kill. 😛
I’m excited to have some new orchids in my collection, which currently consists mostly of Phalaenopsis. Though I don’t have a great track record with other orchid genera, it’s good for me to at least give them a shot. I’ll certainly keep you posted here on my new babies!