Disclaimer: These orchids aren’t technically mail-order. They were bought on eBay and sent through the mail, however, and that’s close enough for me. My first experience with plants sent through the mail was with Aloha Tropicals, when arranging a purchase for the nursery. At the time, I thought the whole thing was a trainwreck. But looking back, I realize I shouldn’t have compared those small specimens wrapped in wet newspaper and crammed into a box with the ones that arrive on the back of an enormous truck each week. And, hell, the first time I saw plants being crammed into the back of the truck at Monrovia‘s Dayton location I thought that was barbaric, too!
Suffice it to say, I don’t have much personal experience with the matter (but some of my horticultural heroes do). And I have more or less exhausted the local nurseries of all their interesting stock. So, why not? You would be amazed at the community of plant people over on good ‘ole eBay. My first purchase was a pair of paphiopedilums, and the experience was so great that I immediately went back for more.
I’m still amazed that plants can be sent through the mail and arrive in such excellent shape! Granted, this seller in particular did an amazing job of packing! Not impressed? Even the flowers and buds were intact! The key seems to be using lots and lots of fiberfill.
Another pro of buying online, aside from being able to find rare specimens, is that coming home to these mystery packages makes every day feel like Christmas! The first thing I saw poking out of the package above right was the deep, shocking purple underside of a paphiopedilum leaf.
The orchids I purchased are:
- Grammatophyllum scriptum ‘Citrinum x Kiliani’
- Stelis argentata ‘Red’
- Dendrobium Ray Tokunaga ‘Spots x Dark Lip’
- Dendrobium Salaya ‘Candy’
- Dendrobium spectabile
- Phragmipedium demetria
- Paphiopedilum Uneme ‘Delenatii x S. Gratrix’
- Paphiopedilum ‘Janet Kunkle Grace Hsyinging x Almaud album’
- Paphiopedilum ‘Hsingying Rubyweb C.H. x Hsingying Web’
- Paphiopedilum ‘Delenatiii album x Primulinum’
Most were in bud or bloom, and just one – from a different seller – came damaged. The buds had been broken off and since then the leaves have continued to brown and shrivel. I understand this must be impossible to avoid at times, but after seeing how well the rest of the plants were packed, from the diminutive S. argentata to the 33″ tall spike on the G. scriptum, I felt that the seller should step up his game!
All in all, though, it’s been a great experience. I plan to purchase from this seller again and I’ve got a bunch of other goodies waiting to be photographed.. So keep your eyes peeled!