Show and Grow

KOLOA — An orchid that usually likes cooler temperatures sits in the far eastern corner of Al Sugano’s Koloa greenhouse; the coolest spot in the place.

It’s his newest experiment and he’s doing everything he can to get it to bloom. When he does, it’ll be added to an entire room full of successes in varying colors and scents.

“I like the challenge of growing new kinds, finding what works best with each variety,” Sugano said.

Born and raised in Koloa, Sugano became fascinated with orchids while living in Oregon, where he spent 40 years before returning to Kauai.

“We just walked into the store and bought one of these,” he said. “I was interested to see if I could make them grow indoors.”

It was 1990, and he joined an orchid club after working with them a bit outdoors. He said he caught the orchid fever when that first plant blossomed and soon his entire house was full of blooming plants.

“My wife told me I had to move them out, there were so many, “ he said. “So I built a greenhouse.”

He continued using the greenhouse for his orchids when they moved back to Kauai in 2003, and now he has a floral rainbow behind his house.

Some are just for cut arrangements and will saturate the room with their scent. Others do well when they’re hanging and there are also varieties that prefer pots. Prices range from $8 to $35 for each plant.

Sugano knows how to care for all of them and can offer suggestions for the perfect environment for each orchid he sells.

His next event is the Garden Island Orchid Society’s Spring Fantasy Show and sale, set for today and Saturday, at the Hanapepe United Church of Christ.

On Tuesday, Sugano was already prepping the plants for the weekend. He had them separated onto two tables, with the plants that are a year old on one side and the two and three-year old plants on the other side. The older plants are better for shows, he said, because the blossoms are more mature.

“I’ve got to make sure they’re looking nice,” he said.

He’s got orchids for everyone, he said, including those who find growing the plant challenging.

“I have one variety that’s very hard to kill,” he said. “It blossoms and is more hearty.”

The varieties he’s chosen for the weekend show and sale are more tolerant of warmer weather, he said, which will give first timers a leg-up in keeping the plants thriving.

The Spring Fantasy Show and Sale is from noon to 7 p.m. today. Garden Island Orchid Society and their member vendors Orchid Alley, Nancy Nakama, Gwen Teragawa, and Sugano will be selling orchids.

Dennis Olivas will be giving expert advice on orchid care and doing live demos, and a craft booth will boast items with orchid themes and the Garden Island Orchid Society cookbook.

The show continues from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Hanapepe United Church of Christ is at 4481 Kona Road.

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