Orchid Alley Is Blossoming

Neill and Fely Sams of Orchid Alley Kaua‘i have been growing and selling award-winning orchids for 15 years. Orchids grow in three greenhouses on the couple’s 1.6-acre property in Kapa‘a.

A new gift shop in the back of the nursery features Kaua‘i-made products such as handmade tapa cloth by Masi, orchid photography by Ada Koene, crystalline pottery by Robbrecht Troost and metallic prints by MidWeek Kaua‘i contributing photographer Daniel Lane of Pono Photo (aka my husband).

Neill won Best Authentic Tropical Landscape at the 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show. His winning entry, a 20-foot-long driftwood waterfall and wishing well, will be erected in front of the gift shop. Orchids and other tropical plants will be tucked around the waterfall to create a garden setting where shoppers can sit and relax.

FRAGRANT ORCHIDS Orchid Alley Kaua‘i is celebrating Valentine’s Day by offering scented orchid baskets. About 10 percent of orchids are scented, which is a method for attracting a pollinating insect. Male bees collect the fragrance and use it to court females. Many orchid fragrances appear at a certain time of day, usually influenced by light, temperature or other aspects of the plant’s immediate surroundings.

Oncidium Sharry Baby, also known as Chocolate Orchid, produces a chocolate scent that floats from dozens of small blossoms. Sharry Baby blooms are festive splashes of chocolate and white. The flowers appear to be soft and delicate, but the petals have a firm, almost leathery feel to them. Sharry Baby is considered a random bloomer, and will produce consistent flowers throughout the year.

Dendrobium nobile smells a little like honeysuckle. It is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. Different varieties bloom in different colors and include white, lavender, fuchsia, yellow and light orange. These orchids will bloom twice a year. The initial flush is big and usually starts in October. The second flush is in April and produces half as many flowers.

Neostylis Lou Sneary is a cheerful miniature orchid that produces highly fragrant purple-and-white flowers. They begin blooming in October and may produce a second flush in April.

Tip: Once the blooms die, attach the orchid to a tree or put it in a hanging basket. Supplies, fertilizers, orchid wedding bouquets and orchid landscape design are available from Orchid Alley Kaua‘i.

Selection: Orchid Alley Kaua‘i is featuring these three orchids for Valentine’s Day. Choose a Dendrobium nobile ($69) or Chocolate Orchid ($79) and Orchid Alley will ship or deliver it to your sweetheart. The price also includes tax and the Chocolate Orchid comes with chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. Neostylis Lou Sneary is available at the nursery; $23 each or three for $60.

Shipping: As a certified nursery, the Sams can ship live orchid plants and blooming orchid gift baskets to 49 states. They include care instructions for each variety and location. For timely delivery, place your order by Feb. 11.

The Sams’ orchids can be found only at: Orchid Alley Kaua‘i, 4-1383 Kuhio Hwy., in historic downtown Kapa‘a. For more information, call 822-0486, like Orchid Alley Kaua‘i on Facebook, or visit OrchidAlleyKauai.com.

Marta Lane is a Kaua‘i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.