Friday, September 30, 2011

Trip Report: Ruben in Orchids

Before embarking on our trip to southern Florida, I scoured the web, looking for planty places to visit. I knew I would be visiting the wonderful Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, for the IAS show and sale, but I also wanted to visit some nurseries while we were in the area. I am always coming across plants that are sold on eBay or other sites from nurseries in the Miami area. Also, I was particularly interested in finding some places that sold certain genera of orchids and other places that sold Aglaonemas.

Ruben in Orchids
Sea of orchids at Ruben in Orchids

One of the places I found that sold Encyclia orchids is Ruben in Orchids, which is located in the Redlandsssh , Florida - south of Miami. The owner is Dr. Ruben P. Salueda, who has a long history hybridizing Encyclias and Cattleyas. I sent an email and found that they would be open while we were there. I was excited!


We had a little trouble finding the place, thanks to Miami's genius idea of naming all of their streets with numbers - in both directions. What I mean is that this place was near the intersection of SW 184th and SW 224th. Do you see why this is confusing? In addition to using numbers for all the street names, they use both cardinal directions.  It should be S 184th and W 224th.  That would make sense.  Anyway, finally we discovered that east-west roads are called "streets" and the north-south roads are "avenues."  That's helpful to know, but there are also exceptions to that rule.  Every once in a while one of them is a "court" or "drive."  Anyway, we did make it there, as referenced by the pictures.

Epidendrum of some sort - possibly E. pseudepidendrum.

Ruben's wife, Claudia, showed us around the place.  She told us they have only been in this location for about 4 years, which is astounding, considering how settled they look and how much maturity there is in the place and the landscapes.  You would have guessed they had been there 20 years or more.  Their love of orchids and other plants is evidenced all over their property.  The backyard has orchids hanging in the trees, some attached to the trunks, others hanging in baskets.  There are vanilla orchids and dragon fruit cacti climbing up the trunks of all of their palms.  Beautiful plants everywhere.

A beautiful peach-colored hybrid orchid growing on the back porch. Sadly, not for sale.  Christie and I both loved the colors on this one.

They even have African reef lake cichlids in their pond up by the house. Amazing!

African cichlids happily living in an outdoor pond

Needless to say, I was in heaven. I was surrounded by orchids - and many of them were Encyclias.  This place wasn't set up for shoppers really.  It was a grower's greenhouse.  So prices weren't clear - or even a tag to know if the plant was for sale or not.  But I had a wonderful time perusing the rows of orchids and seeing all sorts of things I hadn't seen before.

One happy guy!

Beautiful pendant blooms of Cycnoches chlorochilon - at least that is what it was labeled. It doesn't match the photos here, though. I think it could be Cycnoches dianae.

At the last Oklahoma Orchid Society meeting I attended, the talk was given on the genus Cycnoches, which is unique among orchids. Most orchids have both male and female parts on every flower, while Cycnoches have separate male and female flowers, though they can be on the same plant and even on the same raceme. It's fascinating. And we got to see one of these in person at Ruben's. It was a really nice specimen in the prime of it's bloom.

Somehow I didn't catch the name on this one and I really wish I had. It is awesome!

Epidendrum Mabel Kanda x Encyclia cordigera - I think.

I ended up purchasing two really nice Encyclias from Ruben in Orchids - Encyclia tampensis and Encyclia plicata.  The E. plicata was in bloom with really tall bloom stalks.  We enjoyed them for the remainder of our vacation and then had to clip them off before getting on our plane to fly home.  Maybe next time we'll be able to fly.  Of course, I can only imagine how much money I would spend if we drove and had lots of room in the car for plants...

Hybrid orchid - probably a mix of Encyclia and Cattleya.

Before we left, Claudia told us we should visit R.F. Orchids, which was "just down the road."  I was shocked, because I had heard of R.F. Orchids and had no idea they were in the area.  It's a good thing I didn't know, because I might have gone there, rather than Ruben's place.  And I'm really glad I visited Ruben's.

Blooms from the Encyclia plicata plant I bought.

Driving around the Redlands we discovered that this is orchid territory.  There were literally stands on the side of the road all over the place with signs advertising "$6 orchids," "$7 orchids" and even "$1 orchids."  We checked out several of these places on our way to R.F. Orchids, some of which had some really good deals.  More on that soon.


  1. These are all beautiful! What a wonderful place.

  2. The redlands are a terrible terrible place to drive around if you're on a budget. We went there on a school trip in college (it was with the horticulture club) and we were all dying to buy EVERYTHING we drove passed. I have since vowed to never drive down there or else I'd bring home an entire car full of everything. Did you by chance make it to the Robert Is Here fruit stand? They have the most amazing fruit for sale! Or Fruit and Spice Park? It's another fantastic garden and if you go on a guided tour they let you sample all sorts of exotic fruits from the trees.

  3. Tom- unfortunately I made a special trip to the Robert Is Here fruit stand. I say "unfortunately" because they are closed for renovation right now. I was really excited about it, and pretty bummed when we drove up and saw they were closed. It is now "Robert WAS Here" fruit stand, in my mind.

  4. That is tragic. I've got a little star apple tree that I started from a fruit I bought there. You'll have to make it back there some time, it's almost as exciting as all the orchid growers.