Back to the orchids. As you saw in Part 1 of this story, I was so excited to visit Green Circle Growers in Ohio to tour the facilities where Just Add Ice orchids are grown, as well as other houseplants. Hopefully I will visit again soon to tour that part of the facility to see where they grow their anthuriums, money trees (pachira), bonsai, bromeliads, weeping fig (ficus) and other plants.
So what do we know about these Just Add Ice Orchids? Though the company has been growing plants since 1968, they have only been selling JAI orchids for 8 years, after they perfected the process. Why are they watered with ice? Where did the idea come from? I know I would have never considered it. So the story is that the owner John, had his kids water his plants after dinner with the leftover ice cubes in their cups. Why would they waste water, after all? It was also less messy than watering with unfrozen water, especially with kids doing the watering. He was on to something. It did take some testing obviously, to figure out the whole process, find the right potting medium, and make it work for the consumer. He even sent plants home with the employees to see if it would work for them. Why is ice better, according to Just Add Ice? The ice cubes melt slowly, allowing the plant roots to soak up the water completely. Running water through the medium means much of the water comes out of the bottom as it runs through so quickly and enough water may not be retained in the medium. And as I mentioned previously, The Ohio State University, and the University of Georgia both did a study on the effects of the ice cubes on the roots and the life span of the orchid. They found no damage was done by using ice. This was a big surprise to me. I was not a big fan of this ice thing, I’m not going to lie. I want to say here, that though this has been proven to not be detrimental for these orchids and their other Just Add Ice plants, I would NOT use ice water or ice cubes to water your houseplants planted in medium that hasn’t been mixed specifically for this way of watering.
Just Add Ice orchids has over 150 varieties of phalaenopsis. How do they choose the orchids? It’s hard to believe, but they work with the breeders in Holland and Taiwan eight years in advance. They choose the plants for stems, blooms, height, color, and hardiness making sure they choose the best orchids that will perform well for the consumer. They have seven color groups to choose from: white with spots, pink, purple, salmon (my favorite), unique (which means they are spotted and speckled), white and yellow. Actually, is there an ugly orchid? I don’t think so. They also grow other Just Add Ice plants “for a variety of plants that appeal to the non orchid consumer”. Are there really people out there that do not like orchids? I’m shocked.
Of course, if those colors don’t appeal to you, there are always the watercolor orchids. These orchids are infused with a watercolor dye that does not hurt the plant. I have to say I am not the biggest fan of these, either, as I know they will be white the next time they bloom, but most consumers assume they will be the color they are when they buy them. They will be disappointed. It was pointed out to me by friend that most people buy or receive these orchids and when they are done blooming, they are out the door…. I, on the other hand (of course) keep every plant and so it didn’t occur to me that people treat them like cut flowers and throw them out. Whatever works for them. They do come in some really gorgeous colors……
P.S. You can see the darker area in the background is the lighting area where the orchids are acclimated to lower light levels…more about that later.
Okay, we’ve completed the tour except for the process of getting the plants to the consumer.
First, the plants are acclimated (to adapt (something) to a new temperature, altitude, climate, environment, or situation.Merriam-Webster dictionary) to lower light levels that they will now be living in when they are transitioned to the retail situation and then our homes. Every plant is placed under lights for 1-2 weeks at lower light levels than they were previously residing in. Below you can see the stacks and stacks of boxes ready to be folded into the receptacles for the plants to be shipped in. They have a machine that makes the boxes and 13 orchids are placed in a tray in each box. Every box receives a small ethylene gas block sachet to ensure the flowers last as long as possible. Then all the seams of the boxes are taped so they are protected, especially from cold air if they are shipped in the colder months.
Look at all those boxes of plants ready to be shipped off to locations in the United States and Canada. These almost two year old plants are on to their next adventure–being ooohhed and aahhhed over by prospective consumers and then hopefully nurtured for years in our homes. What a wonderful time I had visiting this amazing facility. Thanks Green Circle Growers and a big shout out to Kelly and Hayden for their informative, yet fun tours! And a big thank you to Maria and Susan from the Garden Writer’s Association for planning the wonderful event that made it possible for us to not only visit this little bit of heaven on earth, but some beautiful private gardens as well.
Here is the orchid that was shipped to me to try. It is gorgeous! Thank you Just Add Ice orchids. I will let you know how this ice thing works for me. Please let me know how your Just Add Ice orchids are doing for you in the comments below. I look forward to hearing about your experiences!
P.S. I was given an orchid by this facility to try. I am going to report honestly what I happens as I take care of this plant by watering with ice cubes. I was not asked to write this post nor was I paid. I just love to write about where I have been and the houseplants I see. Thanks!