Orchid Success on California’s Central Coast: Cal Coast Orchids’ Innovative Approach

by Anna

Cal Coast Orchids, situated on California’s Central Coast, has discovered the perfect formula for cultivating top-quality Phalaenopsis orchids in a region known for its favorable climate. Bas van Eijk, the Dutchman at the helm, has not only inherited a family legacy of green thumbs but has also demonstrated a keen ability to seize opportunities that come his way.

Having honed his skills in orchid cultivation across various locations in the Netherlands, van Eijk embarked on a journey that breathed new life into a struggling Phalaenopsis nursery in New Zealand before making his way to California. The turning point in his Californian adventure was meeting Alison Glasco, with whom he founded their own nursery shortly after tying the knot.

Their venture began unexpectedly when van Eijk spotted a vacant greenhouse near Los Osos on Google Maps in 2018. The only glass structure in the area proved to be an ideal opportunity for the couple to establish their nursery on the Central Coast. Today, the 5,000 m2 modern facility boasts cutting-edge features, including a high-pressure misting system, energy-saving screens, and a climate control computer ensuring optimal greenhouse conditions.

California’s abundant sunlight, coupled with the cooling ocean breeze, creates an ideal environment for orchid cultivation at Cal Coast Orchids. To mitigate the challenges posed by intense radiation, van Eijk turned to a temporary ReduSol coating, initially as a stopgap measure. However, the success of the coating led to its adoption as a year-round practice.

The ReduSol coating has proven effective in damping and diffusing sunlight, complementing a fixed screen with a 70% heat retention capacity. The coating strategy varies seasonally, starting with 30% shading in winter, a thicker layer in late February, and additional layers if needed during the peak of summer. The summer coating is removed around October 1, maintaining the orchids’ health and quality throughout the year.

Van Eijk emphasizes the importance of this approach, stating, “Coating is an added safety measure. Should the screen fail to operate for some reason, you are still assured that the plants will remain intact. And if it suddenly becomes very hot, we are able to maintain an excellent greenhouse climate.”

Cal Coast Orchids sources half-grown plants from a Dutch grower in Salinas, cultivating them for an additional 20 weeks until they bloom. The precise regulation of light levels is ensured through the use of PAR sensors, allowing the plants to receive the optimal amount of light needed for their development.

With a focus on the higher quality segment, Cal Coast Orchids sells its orchids year-round throughout California. The success of their approach has led to the acquisition of a second 2.5-hectare greenhouse, designed specifically for orchid cultivation and coated before the arrival of plants. Cal Coast Orchids’ commitment to innovation and excellence positions them as leaders in the thriving horticultural industry on California’s Central Coast.

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