By Julio Yap Jr.

For some plant enthusiasts, orchid growing can be arduous and require a lot of time, effort, and the acquisition of the proper knowledge. But for Edwin Veneracion, orchid growing is simple, fun and lucrative—as long as you know the basic requirements for growing an orchid plant.

Veneracion and his wife Gina have adopted practical strategies to make the operations of their orchid farm—Golden Bloom Orchids in Barangay Maguinao, San Rafael, Bulacan, which they started in 1998—as simple and hassle-free as possible.

To maintain the sustainability of their orchid farm, the Veneracions have to produce healthy and proliferous orchids, which they sell at very reasonable competitive prices.

Although there are many varieties of orchids, the Veneracions chose dendrobiums to be their main product. At any given time, the Golden Bloom Orchids farm has more than 600,000 dendrobium plants.

The reason for their choice is because dendrobiums are the major kind of orchid used for cut flower production. It attains its flowering size earlier than other orchid varieties, and is considered the “orchid for the masses.” He shares that just 10 months from planting the almost four inch seedlings which they import from Thailand, the dendrobiums are already in bloom and ready to be sold.

But Veneracion also has a number of vandas, cattleyas, and other unique varieties in their farm, and the most prominent is the Vanda Sanderiana, popularly known as “Waling-Waling.” In order to maintain the quality and health of his orchid plants, Veneracion always makes it a point to regularly be present at their orchid farm. He said that this way, he ensures that should a problem arise, he can attend to it immediately.

The proper way of applying Osmocote slow release fertilizer to a potted orchid plant.

All orchid varieties need proper nourishment to stay healthy—and for them to grow healthy, they should be provided with the necessary growing conditions like the right amount water and humidity, ideal light and temperature requirements, the proper growing media, and of course, nutrients or fertilization. Veneracion stressed the importance of the latter, saying that during the importation process—which takes about two weeks—the plants are deprived of fertilization, and, of course the right amount of water.

To compensate for this loss of nutrients, the seedlings are fertilized with a solution which consists of Peters 30-10-10, Peters STEM or soluble trace elements mix, and the right amount of hormones. This is usually done once a week for five months, or until the seedlings are about five months from potting.

When the plants are three to four months old, the Veneracions apply Osmocote slow release fertilizer at the rate of about a teaspoon per pot. This is usually applied only once because this kind of fertilizer can last for about three to four months.

The Peters and Osmocote fertilizers are distributed in the Philippines by the Allied Botanical Corporation (ABC). While other brands of fertilizers are available locally, Veneracion says that ever since, they have used these products to maintain the quality of their many orchid plants. After all, it’s the quality of the orchids grown at Golden Bloom Orchids that makes it successful, he says.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s November 2016 issue.