You do not need to an expert on orchids to appreciate the striking beauty of the extraordinary exotic varieties growing in this nursery. I want to state right up front that I know very little about the technical side of growing orchids or even the formal names of the different varieties. We were simply in Homestead, FL and headed for lunch. It was a bit early so we decided to stop in here for perhaps a half hour to admire the flowers. We were amazed at what we saw. They have the larg4est selection of growing orchids.
As soon as we entered the gates, we knew that we would see something special. In front of the commercial entrance is a beautifully landscaped area. We saw some Seminole Indian Chickee Huts encircled with potted plants. We decided to explore this lovely area later although I quickly snapped a few photos. The area is available for private wedding and corporate events. What a beautiful setting! As we approached the store, we had to stop and admire the caged tropical birds. Ivy particularly grabbed our attention. There was a sign warning us not to put our finger in the cage. There was also a lovely small waterfall, a delicate-looking bridge, Asian statues, dolphins and tropical plants at the entrance. I had to stop and take more pictures. I knew right away that this would not be a half hour visit.
There was plenty to see and admire inside the shop. For sale were plants, seedlings, pottery, baskets, books, gift cards, garden décor and gift items. There is a clean attractive-looking restroom in the back. After a quick cold drink, we took a self-tour of the grounds. The greenhouses are quite big, very clean and orderly. Obviously much work goes into making sure that the seedlings and plants are healthy, disease-free receiving the correct amount of light, temperature, air circulation, water, fertilizer and growing mixture. The staff was hard at work inside. No one bothered us or stopped us from photographing everything. We were careful not to disturb any of the flowers, plants or birds for that matter. We roamed around and the knowledgeable staff was very polite to us. Besides the gorgeous orchids and other tropical plants, there were many whimsical statues, garden décor items all artistically arranged and displayed.
An hour later, we were all still admiring the beautiful specimens. Not only did we see their awarding-winning Vandas, which are their passion and specialty but many other species as well such as Cattleyas, Mericlones and Dendrobiums to name a few. The current best seller is Crestwood “Tomorrow’s Star.” This orchid has waxy ivory stars with a white tip. A new orchid is the Rhynchostylis Coelestis - an orchid with two stems and a profusion of blue and white flowers and a darker blue lip. The beautiful orchids are boldly colored and many have very intricate patterns. My husband admired one orchid so much that he insisted on buying it for me. We, however, would be out the rest of the afternoon. We did not think the plant would survive left in a hot car so we had to leave the plant. Maybe we will be back another time to bring one home with us.
The business started back in 1970 when Robert Fuchs opened the doors of RF Orchid to the public. Bob, as he is called by friends, is the president of his company and the RF in the company‘s name. The land on which the nursery stands was part of his grandparent’s (Fred & Louise Fuchs) homestead. His partner, Michael Coronado started working in the nursery when he was just 13 years old. When Bob retired from teaching and incorporated his business in 1985, Michael became Vice President in charge of growing and hybridizing. Besides traveling worldwide learning the latest trends and techniques in growing orchids, participating in shows and conferences, Mike especially enjoys designing private orchid gardens. Bob lectures, writes books and articles and participates or judges dozens of orchid shows worldwide. Bob and his company have won over 1,000 prestigious awards plus numerous medals, trophies and other recognitions.
RF Orchids has been in business for over 50 years but not everything has gone smoothly for the business. In 1990, a thief stole $97,000 worth of orchids. A book, Orchid Thief, later followed by a movie, Adaptation was based on the crime. Hurricane Andrew then devastated the greenhouses in 1992. Bob had to rebuild from scratch. Now the company is stronger than ever. Bob and Mike have come back from adversity. They live in a beautiful home adjacent to the nursery and you can take a tour of their private gardens on the weekends at 11 am and 3 pm no reservations necessary. I hope to return one day and do just that.
If you are near Homestead and wish to see the most beautiful blooming orchids and tropical plants, stop in at RF Orchids. The nursery hours are Tuesday - Sunday from 9 am-5 pm. There is no charge to visit the nursery. I guarantee that you will come away as I did with a new appreciation for the exquisite beauty of orchids.
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