Cloud's Orchids Advantage
We are often asked by our customers, why plants from us tend to perform so much better than plants from other vendors. After examining more closely the practices of other vendors, I have been led to the conclusion that the big difference between our practices and theirs boils down to two points - knowledge and integrity. Now I'll elaborate on what I mean by this.
Knowledge is an important aspect of orchid growing, and even more so in a commercial environment. But knowledge is an broad statement, so I will break it down into separate categories as follows :
- We fully understand the cultural needs of plants we grow and sell. We thoroughly research the growing environments of these plants in their natural habitats, and we take those needs into consideration with our choices of potting media and other cultural requirements. If plants do not perform to our standards, then we conduct numerous experiments until we find the right set of cultural conditions required to get the best performance possible from our plants. Only then will we offer those plants for sale.
- We possess an extensive knowledge of plant genetics, and we use it to determine which crosses (hybrids) to make or acquire. Many crosses that are offered commercially are of little value and buying those would lead to disappointments more often than not. Hence we avoid such crosses and are very selective in those that we offer.
- We have an extensive knowledge of taxonomy (plant identification), and thus have a very low tolerance for mistakes from our suppliers. If suppliers chronically send plants that are unhealthy or incorrectly labelled, then we stop dealing with them immediately. We consider it unforgiveable to sell mislabelled plants, and make every effort to ensure our plants are true to name.
- We understand greenhouse culture and environments. I grew up in the commercial greenhouse industry, and first started helping with transplanting at the age of 5. For those of you who know how old I am, that was a long, long time ago !
- We know that we could produce more plants at a faster rate and more lush foliage if we used antibiotics and hormones in our culture. However, this would lead us to produce plants that do not adapt very easily to growing in the home, and would thus give you more problems in keeping these plants happy. For this reason, we never coddle our plants through the use of these chemicals. Thus, our plants adapt to home environments easily, and do not mope for months, or even years because they are no longer being coddled.
- Through extensive trials we have determined that plants raised in tropical environments usually take at least 2 years to fully adapt to culture in a temperate zone. Depending on the orchid group, up to 50% of these never fully make the adjustment and hence fall prey to infections easily and simply won't perform well at all in the long-term. Hence we raise nearly everything we offer from flask or compots. This takes longer, but results in strong, robust plants that require very little time to adjust to a home environment and will perform much better in the long-term.
- We know that the root system of a plant is the MOST IMPORTANT part of that plant. A plant without a healthy root system, is not a healthy plant, regardless of what the leaves look like. The stronger the root system, then the stronger the plant will be be, and the more resistant to health issues. We actually got one complaint that our plants had too many roots ! This is of course total nonsense, since you could never have too many roots on a healthy plant.
- A plant without a tag is pretty much worthless. To this end, we implement a system of writing our stock numbers on the pots of the plants we sell. This stock number allows us to provide information on plant identity if the label disappears. Simply send us the list of numbers you want information on, and we will quickly respond with all the necessary details.
- Many crosses that are commercially available are made with awarded parents, leading one to believe that these will be of a higher quality than normal. However, this exercise is pointless if the parents selected are not also vigorous growers. We base all our selections on quality along with vigor, since this will always lead to much more satisfying results from the progeny.
Now to elaborate on integrity, you'll notice that many of the preceding points would also apply to integrity, so I won't repeat them here. The points that merit listing though are :
- Our number 1 rule is "we will not sell a plant that we would not be happy to buy ourselves". Since we are very picky about what we buy, this is a good rule to follow.
- We will not sell a plant that has pest or health problems. Since we are a certified nursery, the health of our plants is verified on a regular basis by CFIA inspectors.
- We only sell legal plants and will NEVER falsify any documents. All of our products are certified by CITES and are fully legal. Selling illegal plants puts the vendor, the society AND THE PURCHASER at risk of legal recourse. Even if you have only one illegal plant in your possession, you are subject to fines and having ALL of your plants seized. Hence, we would never put any of our customers in that precarious position. We can provide certificates of legality to anyone who wants/needs one. Note that in situations where an order includes plants that may have legality issues, we automatically include a certificate with the order. For customers outside Canada, the shipping paperwork we provide is already proof of such legality.
- We never sell plants that are not acclimated or properly established. There are an increasing number of vendors at shows that now pick up their orders at the airport on the way to the show. These plants are obviously not acclimated, and many will perish before they make the adjustment. In our opinion, this is reprehensible and a terrible thing to foist onto any unsuspecting customer, regardless of price. After all, how much is a dead or dying orchid actually worth ???
- We never say that a plant is rare unless it actually is rare. There are many false claims made by vendors, and especially in places like e-bay. It is a mystery why someone would call something rare, when it is actually quite common.
- When we provide photos of plants in our catalog, they are the best representations of an average plant from that cross. We do not use photos with enhanced colors or of awarded plants, since this would be a misrepresentation of the product for sale. In a few instances we only have photos from our suppliers, but as soon as we bloom out one plant, then that photo is replaced by a real one we have taken.
- We keep our catalogs as current as possible, refreshing them every 4 to 6 weeks throughout the shipping season. If things are sold out, they do not continuously reappear in our catalog. I don't understand why there are so many catalogs on-line with items marked as "sold out". I personally am not be interested in viewing lists of plants that I can't order !
- We are a large, established growing facility. Since we don't advertise much at all, we rely heavily on word-of-mouth from our satisfied customers, and that alone has been increasing our business steadily and dramatically from one year to the next.
- We offer plants at what we consider to be very reasonable prices, since many of them have been in our care for numerous years before being offered for sale. On average, we usually make a net profit between 50 cents to 1 dollar on each plant that we sell. To keep our pricing low, we try to cut down on overhead expenses as much as possible.
- We size our plants realistically and conservatively. If we say that a plant will bloom in 2 years, then in all likelihood it will actually bloom before that time. We do not use pot sizes in our catalog, since that is meaningless to most customers. Just because a pot size is large, does not mean that the plant will bloom soon, and after all, the time to blooming is honestly what most people really want to know.
- We provide as extensive cultural information on plants we sell as possible to assist our customers in achieving the maximum success they can. To assist customers with plants they have purchased elsewhere, we have provided an easy-to-use
On-Line Orchid Doctor.
This allows us to avoid legal problems with other vendors, while providing the support needed to rescue a plant.
- We do not ship during the cold months of the year. We do not believe in the total safety of heat packs, after hearing numerous horror stories about shipments freezing or being cooked. Because most of our plants have been cared for by us since they were little seedlings, we don't want to run the unnecessary risk of these plants being damaged or killed in transit.
- We provide complete information on our plant tags, aside from just the name, like parentage, culture group, and potting date. We do not provide our name or contact information, so that we do not compete against nurseries that we supply. The potting date is particularly useful, as it indicates to a customer when the next repotting is due, and the fact that the plant has been established in its current environment.
- We provide free mini-workshops at each Open House Weekend at the Nursery.
These are informal and available to anyone, free of charge and without prior booking or purchase needed. Each of these workshops is on a different orchid topic, and the floor is open to any orchid questions at the end. A recent visitor said that he had learned more at two of these sessions than he had all year at his orchid society !
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