Every gardener has a favorite plant nursery. You know what I’m talking about. The one you visit saying you’ll just see what’s new, and then wind up spending $50 in 5 minutes? The one your spouse will go out of their way to avoid driving past, in case you decide you need to drop in for “just one thing”? Well, it turns out it’s a good thing I don’t live down the street from the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens in Hawaii. My wallet would be constantly empty, though my house would be filled with glorious blooms.
In 1974 Moriyasu Akatsuka established his orchid nursery on the Big Island of Hawaii. He drew on his years of experience working in the family orchid business in Japan. Over the years, the facility has expanded to include climate-controlled greenhouses nurturing more than 200,000 plants. Orchids are generally grown by tissue cutting in a process that takes up to 5 years to first bloom. Akatsuka also creates new varieties by hybridizing from “mother orchids.” Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the propagation process from start to finish.
For many visitors the highlight of Akatsuka Orchid Gardens is the large showroom offering orchids for sale. More than 300 varieties representing 14 main groups fill the tables, tempting you at every turn. Akatsuka specializes in new varieties of Cattleya orchids, so there’s often something unique to discover. Look for “Legacy Orchids,” created and named for special people like Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi. The showroom glows with brilliant colors, delicate blooms, and sweet fragrance. Every turn offers a different flower to intrigue you, and they’re all for sale. Locals can bring home fully-blooming plants, while visitors from the mainland can buy smaller plants.
Visit their website (www. akatsukaorchid.com) for more info if you’d like to visit yourself. If a trip to Hawaii isn’t in your future, enjoy more of the blooms of Akatsuka in the slideshow below.