Browse the displays and get tips on growing at the international “Orchid Magic” exhibition and sale

The best place to buy orchids – whether “starter” orchids for the novice grower or interesting and unusual varieties for more advanced aficionados – is at an orchid show, says Debby Halliday , president of the San Diego County Orchid Society.

This year’s SDCOS international spring fair, “Orchid Magic” begins March 18 and runs until March 20 at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley. Expect lush and colorful displays of mostly tropical and subtropical orchids adorning the exhibition space, which will be filled with the scent of exotic beauties, with flowers ranging from tiny to dinner plate-sized and lasting from a few days to a few months.

“Visitors to this show will experience world-class exhibits, hundreds of beautiful plants and top orchid sellers,” Halliday said. “They can hear expert speakers on orchid cultivation and orchid conservation.”

Budding orchid growers chat with top collectors in the area as they admire individual plants in the display after being judged.

(San Diego County Orchid Society)

Exhibits will include several large-scale models featuring unusual specimens, locally bred hybrids and rare species, with over 300 orchids. Also on display will be competitively judged entries in 18 judging sections, each with six to 10 classes.

About 18 vendors, including nationally known local and Californian growers, plus three from South America, will offer hundreds of orchids – refreshed daily – and growing supplies for sale. The organization’s conservation committee will sell orchids donated by members to benefit the society’s orchid conservation projects around the world.

Orchid prices range from around $10 for a small “starter” orchid to $100 for a large, unusual plant, with many attractive choices in the $20 to $30 range.

“The show is a good place to see what’s going on,” Halliday said. “One of the benefits of buying at a show is that the people selling there really know about orchids and what grows well in different places. They can point you in the right direction.

On Saturday and Sunday, SDCOS will offer four classes on topics including basic orchid care, success with Trader Joe’s orchids, reblooming and repotting orchids, and choosing suitable varieties for outdoor growing.

A large and varied display of colorful orchids from the San Diego County Orchid Society.

The San Diego County Orchid Society exhibit is one of many large exhibits on display, in addition to many plants displayed individually.

(San Diego County Orchid Society)

In a normal year, SDCOS holds four shows; the others are free, smaller public shows held in Balboa Park at Casa del Prado, Room 101. The January show was canceled due to COVID-19, as was the Spring 2021 show.

“Orchid Magic” runs from 3-7 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. The Scottish Rite Center is located in Mission Valley at 1895 Camino del Rio S. Admission is $10 per person or $12 for a weekend pass, with children under 12 free. The website, sdorchids.orgoffers a discount coupon along with the latest show details and an updated workshop schedule.

Sours Larson is a freelance writer from San Diego.

Budding orchid growers chat with collectors while looking at plants arranged on tables to judge them.

Budding orchid growers chat with top collectors in the area as they admire individual plants in the display after being judged.

(San Diego County Orchid Society)

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