Orchid Slum Greenhouse Tour

Jane and I hosted the Jacksonville Orchid Society’s tour of Art’s “Orchid Slum” on 6 October 2013. I currently have approximately 260 orchids split between two greenhouses, plus another 20 or so under the trees, or in the house if they are blooming.  Approximately 10 JOS members were on hand for the tour during which I passed out Epidendrum radicans and Dendrobium cucullatum keikis.








By way of background, Bonnie Myers, JOS President, gave me the first greenhouse, which is an 8ft wide x 8ft long x 6ft tall “Dream House” by Flower House greenhouses that she’d used for several seasons before replacing it with a considerably larger rigid-wall greenhouse. This greenhouse is for all intents and purposes, simply a large tent with a fiberglass shock-pole skeleton. As I’ve owned several smaller tents, I immediately knew how it went together and had it up within 30 minutes of after getting it home. I also built two 7ft x 2ft orchid benches for this greenhouse as well. The “tent” is a rip-stop weave of polypropylene fabric that has unfortunately not done well with Florida’s relentless ultraviolet light. A week before the greenhouse tour, the top panels ripped out (no rip-stop here!), but fortunately, I already had on hand a 20ft x 25ft roll of 4mil clear plastic, and it is now the top of the greenhouse!

Last year, I rescued my father’s orchids (75 or so) and his greenhouse came along with the deal.  This one is 6ft wide x 8ft long x 7+ feet tall and the plastic is considerably tougher, at least 6mil, if not more, with a true rip-stop weave. Unlike the “Dream House,” this green house has a rigid steel tube skeleton and is considerably stronger. Did I mention that it is taller as well?  I can stand up fully and its rigid structure makes it ideal for my Vandas and mounted orchids.  Like the “Dream House,” I have orchid benches, but in this case I purchased a 5-tier plastic shelf system at Home Depot and repurposed it for my orchids.


Both green houses are equipped with fans in the summer and electric heat in the winter, with one heater in each green house running at 750 watts easily providing sufficient heat. Both green houses also have watering systems, with each timed separately to meet the needs of their individual collections.

Photos by Margie Johnson

Dendrobium blumei

The Jacksonville Orchid Society recieved a number of orchids from the wife of one of its late members and I picked this up more out of curiosity than need; plus, the price was right.  It vaguely reminded me of a Dendrobium crumenatum with its furrowed pseudobulbs, but I really didn’t know what it was.  Members of the Florida Orchid Grower’s Facebook community properly named it as Dendrobium blumei, a warm to hot growing orchid which will grow nicely in my conditions.

Dendrobium blumei - Sep 2013When I brought it home, it was desiccated and I didn’t have much hope for it.  However, after placing it in my “wet room” where it was watered twice a day, I was rewarded with this bloom after a few days.  In the shape that it was in, I couldn’t help but think it might be on a ‘death-ride’ and producing its last bloom in an effort to get fertilized before perishing.  That was last week.  A week later, I’m again rewarded with a new blossom, which gives me hope that I may be able to save this orchid. This is a small blossom, 1.7cm vertically, but nicely fragrant.  It reminds me of honey, but others suggest something more towards lemon.  Unfortunately, the blossom will only last a couple of days.