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Welcome to Orchids of Los Osos 

A tropical treasure becomes a blooming Los Osos business

by Richard Palmer
Central Coast Sun Bulletin

"The most exciting thing is this," said Michael Glikbarg, holding up a spike of spectacular flowers, "When you make your Mike holding a Dollgoldiown hybrid and see it bloom for the first time."

The flower he's holding is his own hybrid, Dollgoldii "Oso Grande." The lush blossoms look like they were cut from yellow velvet etched with purple silk. Such orchids can take years to develop. Glikbarg should know, he's been growing orchids in Los Osos for 20 years, and Dollgoldii "Osos Grande" is one of his most outstanding efforts to date. The American Orchid Society rates orchids on a 100 point scale. No orchid has ever received a perfect 100, but orchids that score in the 90s belong to an elite group that are bestowed a "first class certificate."
Dollgoldii "Oso Grande"
is one such orchid.

Los Osos is a great place to grow orchids. The climate is ideal, said Glikbarg: not too cold, not too hot, and blessed with moisture-laden ocean breezes. And while most people wouldn't associate orchids with beer, they both share one critical influence: water. To get good orchids and good beer, you need good water. Los Osos water "is very pure," said Glikbarg. "The wells we have are very good."

Glikbarg's passion for orchids may be an inherited trait. He speaks of his father with admiration as he describes how the senior Glikbarg was traveling down the Amazon by boat some 25 years ago, when he "looked into the trees, and saw these plants." He didn't know what they were," said the son, "he didn't know anything about plants then." But the elder Glikbarg was fascinated by what turned out to be wild bromelaids, and even climbed into the trees to get a closer look. He took a couple of plants from the profusion growing there, and discovered a passion that would take him all over the world in search of unique orchids. Collecting orchids in the wild is now strictly regulated in most countries, though collectors have actually saved some species from extinction. "One of the jobs of the orchid grower is to preserve the species," said Glikbarg.

"With 30,000 species, orchids make up the largest family of flowering plants in the world," said Glikbarg. Famed for their showy flowers, orchids are also popular for their scent. "Fragrant orchids have been treasured in Asia for centuries," said Glikbarg. "There, fragrances can be valued more than the flower." And not just floral scents, but coconut, chocolate and vanilla. Hedy Avant, who's worked at the orchid nursery about four years, can think of just one drawback to orchids. "The only problem is you get addicted to orchids and you keep buying them," said Avant with a smile.

Tips for growing your own

"Anyone can grow orchids," says Michael "Glikbarg, who owns Orchids of Los Osos. "The myth is they're hard to grow."

He offers these orchid growing pointers:

  • Good orchids for beginners are "lady Slipper," "moth orchid," and "dancing lady." They do fine indoors, where they are less likely to attract pests.

  • Water the orchid weekly, just like any other house plant, and fertilize it every other week. About 90 percent of the problems people encounter stem from not fertilizing their orchid, said Glikbarg. Without fertilizer, the plant won't bloom.

  • Orchids are pretty resistant to bugs, he said, though aphids and mealy bugs are attracted by the flowers. Insects can be controlled and in some cases enlisted as an aid to the plant..

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