What is the highest value floriculture crop these days? According to an article in the July 2011 issue of Greenhouse Grower, it's no longer poinsettias. As noted in the USDA's Floriculture Crops Summary, orchids are now the top floral crop. While more individual poinsettia plants are produced for the holiday season, each orchid sold produces considerably more dollars, resulting in higher overall value for the crop.
The most popular orchids currently are phalaenopsis or moth orchids. They grow relatively fast and are easy to bring into flower, making them popular with commercial growers. Consumers like the fact that they are long-flowering, thrive in average home temperatures, and come in all colors of the rainbow, except for true blue. But other orchid groups, such as oncidium orchids, are increasing in popularity.
You may have heard of the release of the 'Blue Mystique' orchid recently. Is it really the first blue orchid? Not exactly. It's a white orchid infused at closed bud stage with a special medium in a proprietary process that results in light blue flowers when buds open. Any new flowering stems will likely produce white blossoms.
If you're thinking about venturing into orchid growing, a good place to start is at the Green Circle Growers Just Add Ice website. (The name comes from their advice that the best and easiest way to water orchids is to "just add ice" -- use ice cubes to water plants) You'll find lots of information on caring for orchids, including videos, as well as an orchid care forum where you'll receive answers to your questions from the Just Add Ice support team, a blog, links for orchid lovers, and information on finding a store that carries their plants.
To visit the website, go to Just Add Ice Orchids.