For the past 45 years, Dr. Robert Bannister has been growing orchids here in Des Moines, Iowa. Eventually, he joined the local chapter of the Orchid Society and started Iowa Orchid, brokering and selling orchids he lovingly grew to customers locally in Iowa and as far away as Texas and Pennsylvania.
Not a Ph.D. in plants but an M.D., Dr. Bannister’s career was first and foremost as a surgeon. When asked if there was a connection between his day job and his orchid hobby, he denied any link – although one could say seemingly patience and precision were needed for both. One thing is clear, Dr. Bannister has the passion and know-how for growing orchids.
The network of those that grow and sell orchids ranges across North America but does not have a lot of members. Outside of Iowa Orchid, the next closest brokers are in Denver and Chicago. The orchids he grows are sourced from Thailand by way of San Diego, and he travels out there every two months for a new crop, selecting nearly 1,000 young plants each trip.
Recently, Iowa Orchid partnered with Wright Outdoor Solutions, and it is a perfect partnership. Several years back, Wright Outdoor started procuring orchids for their clients from Iowa Orchid, and in 2019 the two joined forces. Dr. Bannister hand selects the orchid specimens in San Diego on his bi-monthly trips and has them delivered to Wright Outdoor Solutions, where the team grows the orchids from young plants into the beautiful blooming orchids clients have come to know and love. These orchids are available for purchase, as well as a variety of other services, including in interior plantscaping designs, plant rental and custom arrangements.
Dr. Bannister and Wright Outdoor raise phalaenopsis orchids in colors that range from purple, pink, and coral to white. Known for their beautiful arc of blooms, the phalaenopsis varietal is second to none when it comes to beauty and decorative use. Fun fact about that infamous arched shape, or waterfall as it is known in the trade, it does not happen without help. The orchids are structured when they first bud. As for the question most commonly asked – how to rebloom an orchid – putting an orchid in a cooler temperature (60 degrees Fahrenheit) for two months triggers reblooming. “It’s a long process to rebloom orchids” says Dr. Bannister, “and requires the proper temperature”.
Interested in adding an orchid or two to your home or office? Contact our team today to schedule a consultation or order one for delivery.