Saturday, June 6, 2009


Cut flowers disturb me in a way. Beautiful indeed but must we sever them from the plant, thereby destroying the process of reproduction, in order to appreciate them? Perhaps for this reason I am far more enamored with orchids as household floral decorations as the entire plant is displayed.

During a visit to the Beaches Green Market I noticed a booth packed with an amazing variety of orchids, all in superb condition. Later we discovered that these orchids are grown in Green Cove Springs at Jaxma, a family owned and operated commercial orchid greenhouse on US 17.

jaxma front

Jaxma was established through the sister city program initially put in place by President Dwight Eisenhower as a post-war initiative to promote cultural understanding and to stimulate private business and economic development. The family who owns Jaxma came from Masan, South Korea, hence the hybrid name Jaxma. The greenhouse is quite impressive as everything, including the amount of sunlight allowed to reach the growing orchids, the temperature, and the moisture, is controlled via computers. One can't fully appreciate the mammoth effort involved until they understand just how difficult it is to raise orchids nor until they have witnessed the spectacle contained within the 110,000sqft greenhouse: thousands upon thousands of orchids appearing to stare back at you.

army of orchids

Jaxma doesn't germinate orchids or make cuttings to produce new plants, that in itself is a nigh impossible task and is typically done in sterile laboratories. But even raising them from a young plant into the great spectacle ready for sale can be a delicate process which requires establishing a fine balance between dedicated care and intentional negligence.

Most orchids are perennial epiphytes. Epiphytes are organisms that grow upon or attach to a living plant in a non-parasitic fashion, usually deriving only physical support, not nutrition from their host. A local example of an epiphyte would be the air plants often seen living on the trees and occasionally the power lines.

As such, orchids derive most of their nutrients from the air and the surface of their host. Being particular to certain climates, orchids require certain temperature gradients and moisture levels to stimulate their growth and blooming. I won't delve any further into the craft of raising these strange life forms but I will say that, being a perennial plant, you can keep reaping the beautiful rewards of a decently maintained orchid plant for years. Even if discarded after all the blooms have vanished, they turn out to be far more cost effective than cut flowers but I heartily recommend keeping them around and establishing a growing colony of these plants in your house.

orchids for sale

If you'd like to learn more about Jaxma and orchids in general, you can stop by for a scheduled tour (as we did). The next is being held on June 27th at 11am and you can sign up online. They sell wholesale to many stores spanning from Miami to Atlanta and also sell directly to individuals either at the greenhouse (hours posted below) or at a few of the local markets.

It was nice learning about Jaxma, the sister city program, and orchids on the tour and we'd love to hear about any similar offerings in the area.

6440 US Highway 17 S,
Green Cove Springs, FL 32043
M-F 8am ~ 5pm
Sat 10am ~ 3pm

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