Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The unique RARE BLACK ORCHID of Belize, a collectors expensive item.

*** Rare BLACK ORCHID of Belize
Orchid farming at Central Farm, Belize.

The Taiwanese Mission to Belize, have a specialist doing what is to me exotic stuff and is cultivating orchids, using terminology like cloning, and in vitreo and so forth. Didn't understand a word he said. At first he was teaching this at the University of Belize in Belmopan, the capital, but for some reason things went bad over there and he changed over to the research atmosphere in Central Farm. They have fixed him up with an aluminum framed GREENHOUSE and his lab and offices and he is introducing the more lowland famous orchids, that TAIWAN EXPORTS around the world in the millions. Apparently he ran a big orchid farm in Taiwan of a square mile or so. The orchids he is working on have EXPORT markets in the world already. This was his first batch I caught when Manuel Trujillo gave me a tour around the research projects in Central Farm last week. This orchid greenhouse is climate controlled with air conditioning. Orchids would have to pay very well, to afford the electricity in Belize at our high rates.

Yeah I know it is a problem with the Belize government attitudes. They won't let anybody do any kind of plant growing for export at the higher altitudes in Belize. We only have about 2400 ft altitude that could be called usuable. I researched for growing cardomom spice, and found two locations suitable, but it is designated Forestry Reserve ( no forest, more like tundra ) and after the fiasco with the last government and the Forestry Department, I'm not about to waste my time and money again, trying to deal with government people to get the necessary land at a high altitude. Because they are bureaucrats and they are on salary, days, weeks, months and years mean nothing to them with their excuses for not getting anything decided, or done. It's a total waste of time. Guatemala would have the right conditions though and I recommend around Lanquin, Alto Vera Paz. Wife and I will be going on another exploring trip there next month.

--- On Wed, 8/12/09, Bob Brotherton wrote:

From: Bob Brotherton
Subject: Re: Bz-Culture: Re: You interested in orchids?
To: hillviewhacienda@yahoo.com
Cc: gissy031@hotmail.com, rdcfarm@yahoo.com, trujilloman@yahoo.com, bz-culture@psg.com
Date: Wednesday, August 12, 2009, 8:52 PM

This message sent to the Bz-Culture Mailing List from Bob Brotherton :
Ray - I am very interested in orchids as you probably know. I have a collection of over 700. The orchids shown in your photo are Phalaenopsis orchids. It appears that these have been grown from "Compots" (small containers of very small seedlings) that were probably imported into Belize. The orchids shown in this photo would probably sell in the United States for about $15 US each. It is the potential for growing orchids Commercially in Belize that brought me there in the first place. The key to growing orchids is lots of light and also cool temperatures. In Hawaii, they grow orchids on the sides of volcanos up about 3,000 feet. I was looking for land in Belize at about 3,000 feet. This land all appears to be owned by the GOB in the Belize Alps. Mountain Pine Ridge is just a little too low actually. If they are using AC to grow these orchids, that will never prove to be economically feasible. The use of fans is even expensive in Belize to grow orchids commercially. In Florida, we use evaporative coolers and these are also expensive to operate on a large scale. Part of the problem with growing orchids in the US is competing with growers in developing countries that have low cost labor and good growing conditions. Most people in this business grow in other countries and then import plants to commercial growing operations here in the US for ultimate distribution and sale. With Home Depot and Lowes now selling orchids, they demand lower prices which greatly hurts this business and sends the growing off-shore. An orchid clone is slightly different than orchid cloning. An orchid seed pod holds about 1 million seeds. These seeds do not have any ability to sprout like a tomato or other typical seed. The seed requires just the right external nutrients and environment to grow. In a seed pod, each plant that grows from seed is slightly different than its brothers and sisters in the seed pod. Each plant is considered a clone. In this growing process, the good plants are used and the bad ones are discarded. The very good clones are given "Clonal Names" which include the names of the parent plants. From these very good plants and with the right laboratory, the lab can take the tender growing shoots and cut off very small pieces and place these in growing medium by the thousands. This process is called cloning. All the plants that grow from this are very very close to 100% the same as the plant that it came from. All the Phalaenopsis orchids in your photo look to be exactly the same and therefore are probably grown from the laboratory cloning process in special closed containers. When these baby plants get to a certain size, the bottle or container is broken and the baby seedlings are placed in groups of 50 or more into small pots called "Compots". These are then grown to a larger size before they are separated into individual pots. For a Phalaenopsis orchid, the process from seed to flowering plant is about 3 years. For most other orchids, the process is 5 to 6 years. You really need to know what you are doing to make money at this and for sure, you need the right environment to grow these plants.

Bob Brotherton

From my daughter Mrs. Sharon Urscheler with her nursery and landscape business in Redlands, South Florida.
Sounds interesting! Are you growing your own in the nursery in the Redlands? Is there any money in exporting these to Florida do you think? Whats the cost breakdown?

--- On Thu, 8/13/09, Sharon Urscheler wrote:

From: Sharon Urscheler
Subject: RE: You interested in orchids?
To: "Grandpa Ray Auxillou"
Date: Thursday, August 13, 2009, 8:15 AM

They are used in interior scapes a lot up here. Basically we put them in offices as well as bromeliads and every 6-8 weeks when the blooms are spent we change them out. Bromeliads are easier than orchids to grow I think and are less finicky. You need ethylene gas to get them to color up or bloom in time for when you need them. It is a gas given off by ripening fruit. Cost up here for us wholesale is $7 us a plant for 6" pot bromeliad varieties and $11 us a plant for orchids like you have which are phaelenopsis. These are generally only available in the winter months to spring (cooler air plant) and then dendrobium orchids or cynbidiums are used for summer. They are used here in offices for color as a cheaper alternative to buying a weekly floral arrangement. The reason being is they are more cost effective as they last 6-8 weeks at a time.

Sharon Urscheler SUrscheler@msn.com
Flora Tech Landscapes ( nursery and contract work )


The National Flower of Belize is currently listed in official documents as the "Encyclia Cochleatum." This is no longer the proper name of this orchid. The current name as established by the world classification of orchids is now "Prosthechea cochleata". This is a very popular orchid in the world, is easy to grow, and blooms very often. It is native to Belize, Mexico, and Florida. (It is no longer commonly found in the wild in Florida due to aerial spraying of Malathion for mosquitos which also kills other insects including insects that pollinate orchids) In Belize, this orchid is called the "Black Orchid" however, there is no such thing as a true black orchid anywhere in the world. The name comes from the dark color of purple found in this orchid to different degrees. This orchid is commonly known in many countries as the Cockleshell Orchid, because of the shape of the lip. In Mexico, it is known as a PULPO, in English, Octopus, because of the shape of the flower, the lip, the body, and the tepals (tentacles).

I think that the GOB needs to update the name of the official flower of Belize to its proper and current name as "Prostechea cochleata" but continue with the name of the orchid as known by locals as the "Black Orchid". I hope that someone on the blog will forward this information to officials with the government of Belize for appropriate action.

Bob Brotherton
Dunedin, Florida

ORCHID WHOLESALING IN SOUTH FLORIDA ( Flora Tech Landscaping and Nursery )
We don't grow them, ( ORCHIDS ) we buy them from a specialty wholesaler nursery. There are several growers here. Generally they tissue culture or clone them or they get the seedlings from Costa Rica or Singapore I think it is where they come up with new varieties regularly. They then finish them off here. Importing seedlings is easier than importing plants with soil-they are strict on that due to diseases and fungus and pests that may travel with the plant. There are licenses involved and I do not do the details. You would need an importer/exporter to tell you that. I do not know costs involved. They are highly mechanized here using a machine to plant the plugs in trays. They are grown in volcanic rock or coconut coir. Clear pots work best for finishing them off quicker the found and for better roots.

Sharon Urscheler SUrscheler@msn.com

Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 08:41:55 -0700
From: hillviewhacienda@yahoo.com
Subject: You interested in orchids?
To: surscheler@msn.com

see photo from Central Farm on my blog.
To: "Grandpa Ray Auxillou"
Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2009, 8:48 PM

The bromeliads would be easier to produce in Belize in my opinion. Many are tropical. These could also be marketed in Belize to hotels, spas etc. to start with a regular changout being factored in. Here we charge $10 per month per plant but change it approximately every 2 to 2.5 months depending on variety (you collect approximately $20 retail a plant before you change it(bromeliads 6" plant), orchids are more expensive at double that. You can change colors as well depending on what is ready at any given time. That is what they are used for here-to add color, for the tropical feel and for that zen, relaxed feeling. I will try to send you some pics tomorrow when I am back in the office. Orchids are considered a higher end product so they are more prized. The best orchid to hold up indoors here is a fairly new variety called kaleidoscope. It is a phaelenopsis like the ones you showed being produced in belize except it is yellow and pink/peach. It may be patented not sure and I think it originated or was made in singapore. White & purple orchids are also used a lot.

Sharon Urscheler SUrscheler@msn.com


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