Our product’s story begins in NE Portland in the early 1950s when my grandparents were given a cymbidium orchid plant as a gift. They were already growing fuschias and other warm-climate species as a hobby in their backyard greenhouse, but their success with this one plant sent the family off on a fateful tangent.
They propagated the plant and added to their cymbidium collection. As a biologist, my grandmother hybridized and cloned the orchids, and they eventually expanded into a larger greenhouse in the heart of Mississippi Avenue in North Portland (only recently torn down) and started selling cut orchids to local florist shops.
My dad, Tom, worked there after school as a teenager and decided to study horticulture and business in college and do the orchid farm thing for real. He later expanded the operation to yet larger greenhouses south of Portland in Milwaukie.
To compete on a wide scale, he needed the longest-lasting blooms that could make it cross-country and into a wedding bouquet, which is what drove his obsession with the fertilizer. He sent leaf tissue samples to the lab every month for years, tweaking the formula after each result, trying to hit the ideal levels, and he eventually succeeded. Lo and behold, the formula did great things for all the houseplants, too, since many of them come from similar ecosystems as orchids.
Neilson Orchids, Inc. became one of the biggest orchid growers on the west coast. In the mid-‘90s, international trade agreements drove a lot of the U.S. floral industry to South America where there were no minimum wage laws or environmental regulations. Around that time, my dad shifted to selling mostly potted plants, which couldn’t be imported at the time.
And a while later he started bottling his plant “elixir,” as he termed his invention. It can’t be fully concentrated without losing quality, but I recently experimented to find that it doesn't have to be fully diluted, either. (See our FAQ for more info)
I'm reinventing the growing side of the operation, with more varieties of orchids and other species. I'm spreading the love, I'm sharing the Elixir.