Califonia Bountiful

Orchid obsession

Mar./Apr. 2007 California Country magazine

Singing the praises of the brightly colored and long-lasting orchid bloom.

Californians sing the praises of this long-lasting bloom

Rows and rows of sturdy green foliage and brightly colored orchid blooms once served as an indoor playground for Chris Enright. Now a second-generation nurseryman, the Watsonville father of two recalls chasing his four young siblings around the plants.

"As kids we used to play hide-and-seek in the nursery," he said. "It was like our own personal playground, but we always knew not to touch or break the plants because that was our bread and butter."

The orchid continues to be a staple of Enright's family-run wholesale nursery. But for an increasing number of other people, like collector Krystine Chaparro of Burbank, the orchid represents an addiction of sorts—the well-deserved reward for finding just the right combination of sunlight, water and TLC to encourage the gorgeous, yet sometimes-stubborn plants to re-bloom.

"Because you work so hard at figuring out what they need to be at their best, they just flourish and give you such great reward, plus the flowers last so long," said Chaparro, president of the Orchid Society of Southern California. "There is a very big emotional tug. Then when you have more than one, then you get two...they are like children. I don't have any children, so these are my children."

One of the largest classes in the plant kingdom, the orchid offers thousands of species and varieties that range from those with tiny flowers to some of the most magnificent blooms.

Enright Nursery, which specializes in the cymbidium variety, is one of 44 orchid growers in the state. In 2005, the last year for which figures are available, California nurseries sold 7.78 million potted orchids.

Growing and collecting orchids was a popular pursuit among the elite at the turn of the 20th century, Chaparro said, but there has been a resurgence recently among those from all walks of life.

"People have learned through the years that it can be very simple," Chaparro said. "Orchids give you such a beautiful spray of flowers that are just fascinating to look at. When they bloom, they almost look like a chorus that is singing to you."

(Christine Souza is a reporter with the California Farm Bureau Federation. She may be contacted at (800) 698-FARM or by e-mail at

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