Last week my family and I vacationed in Orlando, FL, and I thought why not visit a few orchid shops. I really had no idea who was even selling in the area, so I cruised the internet and found “A World of Orchids” and “Tom Ritter Orchids”.
Our first stop was Tom Ritter’s. My only experience with orchid growers has been in Virginia, so to see how things differ in Florida was very interesting. One thing I noted right off was the difference in greenhouse construction. In Virginia winters are hard, snow weight on the roof of the greenhouse is a serious concern and as such the roof structures tend to be robust. In Florida snow threat is almost zero, and the overall construction of the greenhouse in much less intense. Hoop-house construction with light weight panels was the theme at Tom Ritter’s and it seemed to be working well for them.One of the next things I noticed right away at Tom Ritter’s was the impressive number of plants. They were packed in every inch of bench space and hanging overhead. They had an impressive number of cattleya ranging from seedling to blooming size. Unfortunately for me they were mostly all hybrids, some of them very nice awarded plants.
They also had an absolutely stunning number of Vandas. In Virginia, with winters full of low humidity and cold temperatures, Vanda growers are confined to greenhouses and require more than a little effort. At Tom Ritter’s they were thriving.
Another aspect of their greenhouse I really enjoyed was their abundance of miniatures. I do not have many myself, but as my growing area shrinks they look more and more appealing.
The last observation I had at their greenhouse was the staggering amount of work it must take to maintain that many plants. Overall, their plants were in great shape, but there was the occasional plant that had been knocked over or fallen from its hanging home, clearly laying where it fell some time ago. There was the occasional plant showing signs of decline or virus, but with the number of plants they have, that sort of thing seems unavoidable. In the end, they seem like a good growers, friendly folks and an excellent place to visit if you have time.
More to come on A World of Orchids…..