Guest Author - Susan Taylor
Once you start on your addiction to orchids, you will find a large number of vendors who are more than willing to help you add to your collection. Each type if vendor has its advantages and disadvantages.
One of the most informative places to start is to go to an orchid show. Most local societies have annual shows which are open to the public. There are educational exhibits, awarded orchid plants, grouped exhibits of different kinds of plants and generally many vendors. You can see what different kinds of plants look like and start homing in on the type or types of orchids which are interesting and attractive to you. This is a good place to gather business cards of orchid vendors in your area that you can plan to visit in the future, too. Their stock is used to conditions very similar to what you will be able to offer plants and they will be more than willing to discuss cultural requirements with you.
The internet is an amazing place for orchid enthusiasts. Using my search engine, I asked for websites with “orchid”—there were almost 575,000 hits! There are plant vendors, botanists, photographers, growing supply providers, as well as other items which are not directly related to orchid plants. To start looking at what is available in the way of plants and supplies on the web, I recommend going to the OrchidMall …this site is the premier portal for surfing for orchid related materials. It has a continually updated listing of websites for all kinds of orchid-related items. Go to the orchid plant sources section and spend some time just looking at vendors, seeing what prices are out there—they vary greatly—as well as learning more about orchids. Many of the vendor websites have cultural information available and this is a really wonderful source of information for all levels of grower. Be sure to review the shipping and handling pricing before ordering anything from an on-line vendor.
Before you purchase anything on line, another site you will want to visit is Garden Watchdog . This site provides evaluations of growers based on ratings by customers who have purchased from them. It is a good place to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable vendor when you first start out. If you are an experienced purchaser, be sure to post your experiences there.
EBay is also a good source of plants, but you will need to know what you are looking for and have some idea of what a particular plant is worth. EBay has its own vendor rating system which I highly recommend you take advantage of prior to purchasing from the auction. Garden Watchdog also has evaluations on many of the vendors selling on eBay. EBay vendors accept questions prior to bidding and I have found that they are very good at responding to questions in a timely manner. If you do purchase from eBay, be sure to provide feedback on your experience with the vendor.