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Getting started on an Orchid Collection

A mixed hobbyist orchid collection - © 2008 Greg Allikas

Here are six recommendations on how to build an orchid collection:

Read the monthly magazine of the American Orchid Society, Orchids
The award-winning flagship publication of the AOS, Orchids is chock-full of ads from most of the best orchid firms.

Write for catalogs and lists of interest
Some firms issue full-color catalogs with photographs and many plant descriptions; smaller firms often offer only a list with names and prices. Any charge for a color catalog is usually refunded with the first order


Visit local greenhouses and nurseries
There is no better way to get an idea of plant and flower size. Visiting in person enables one to see many flowers simultaneously. Commercial growers provide helpful answers when asked to suggest plants that will do well in particular environments.

Consult the American Orchid Society's Orchid Marketplace, published in the Society's Orchid Source Directory
It lists various orchid firms, large and small, by state and country. Keep a copy of this handy resource in the car. Be assured that virtually any trip can be made to fit around a conveniently located nursery! Copies of the Orchid Source Directory are sent to all members of the American Orchid Society. Others may order a copy from the Society.

Attend orchid shows and other plant sales
Orchid shows are dizzyingly full of plants in flower and booths managed by vendors ready to dispense cultural information, plants, books and accouterments. Join a local orchid society. The meetings are good sources of new plants, whether by door prizes, raffles, annual auctions and shows; communal plant orders that yield big discounts; and/or the visiting guest speakers who are also commercial vendors and who customarily bring a load of plants to sell.

Talk to fellow orchid growers
Club members often divide plants to give away or sell amongst themselves. When a desirable orchid is seen on the show table at a monthly meeting, ask the owner if he or she plans to divide it soon, and make deals. Once a plant collection is assembled, arrange trades for future acquisitions.

The AOS thanks judywhite for this essay.