What is the life cycle of growing orchids? If you pick up a JustAddIce® orchid at your favorite retail store, it has taken over four years to grow into the beauty it is now.
Our orchids are so easy to care for that you might not even realize how much work goes into raising them. Our growers do all this work for you, so if you take your orchid home, all you have to remember is to water it with ice cubes once a week.
If you’ve always wondered where your orchids come from and how they grow, here’s a glimpse into the secret life of orchids in our greenhouse.
The Orchid Life Cycle
1. An orchid is born
Although we grow orchids locally, most of our Phalaenopsis orchids are from Europe or Asia. They start off as seeds that are the result of a cross between two different parent strains. These crossings are made by a breeder.
It takes two years for each seed to germinate and develop into a unique flowering plant. Our breeders examine these individual plants for several factors, including:
Color Size and height compared to our expected growth Number of leaves and flowers over the period Susceptibility to disease
New strains that meet our list of criteria are sent to a specialized laboratory where each unique strain is propagated through a process called “in vitro propagation”. This results in individual tissue-cultured plants.
This part of the orchid life cycle takes a long time, but it’s worth the wait!
2. The orchid graduates to the greenhouse
When the orchid tissue culture plant has developed sufficiently, it “migrates” to our greenhouse. She gets lots of light and we continually adjust the temperature and humidity as she grows. The orchid goes through two growing and repotting cycles before it can bloom. The greenhouse incorporates our state-of-the-art orchid quality grading system, the only one of its kind in North America.
All the water used in the cultivation process is also 100% recycled and reused. With drought issues facing growers worldwide, rainwater has become a vital source of irrigation. Our detention ponds collect 1.5 million gallons of freshwater for every inch of rainfall.
3. The orchid continues to grow
At this point, the orchid has been growing for a year, but it still needs a few months to develop. As she grows we will continue to monitor her progress and assess her growth and plant health.
We use advanced scanning technology to ensure each plant reaches its growth milestones before moving on to another area of the greenhouse. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go any further.
This is our favorite part! After seeing only roots and leaves for so long, our growers always look forward to the first flower. It takes some persuasion (and a little magic). To trigger the orchid bloom we move the orchid from a warm part of the greenhouse to another, cooler area. The orchid gets its “baby tips” first. Then, after about 15 weeks of growth, that magic moment happens.
5. The orchid goes through trials
We want to ensure that all of our growing orchids are consistent in size, appearance, quality and health, no matter where you buy them from. That’s why we put our orchids through a series of tests. This includes testing soil pH, evaluating different potting soils, and examining color consistency.
6. The orchid is ready for its new home
Once mature, the orchid is taken to a staging area where it lives for four weeks before being transported to a retail store near you. After finding a new home, you can expect her to remain in full bloom for up to three months before entering a nine-month “dormant” period.