RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Rueben Kim of Paramus can’t stop smiling when he looks at the international array of plants that fill his new Ridgewood shop.
“Orchids are exquisite. They’re nice,” said Kim, the owner of Orchid Hunters on Godwin Avenue. “The more I get to know them, the more intrigued I am.
“There are monkey orchids. They look like monkeys. There are dancing lady orchids and butterfly orchids.”
There also are the popular Phalaenopsis orchids, originally from Taiwan -- and Lady’s slippers from California, Cattleya and Grammatophyllum from Hawaii. Miltonia, too, from South America, and many more.
In keeping with the shop’s name, Kim searches for orchids from all over the globe.
A wholesaler, he deals with greenhouses in New York State and Pennsylvania that grow strong, hearty orchids from imported stems. One stem can yield as many as 10 to 12 buds.
Kim cherry-picks what he wants and then sells and delivers the orchids to the upscale floral shops in New York City, including Zezé, Renny & Reed, Alexander Brothers, and Plaza Flowers.
He was looking for a place in New Jersey to store his orchids when his wife, Mikkie Lee, had the idea to open a retail space.
“Now, if I buy 20 or 30 of a kind of orchid, I leave four or five in the shop,” Kim said. “So the people who come into the shop will get to see a lot of different types of orchids.”
They can expect to have a healthy, radiant orchid for three months, according to Kim. That’s typical for orchids grown in prime conditions that are not overly reliant on fertilizers.
Others who visit Orchid Hunters may just want to look or photograph -- and that’s fine with Kim and Lee. They want to share the beauty.
The orchid business has exploded in the past decade, according to Kim. That’s mainly because of a new sphagnum moss that allows the delicate plants to be watered only once every 10 days during shipping.
Before, they had to be shipped in bark chips, which required watering two to three times a week.
The advent of LED grow lights also helped bring down the cot. Orchid Hunters is bathed in red and blue light, regulated to promote the optimal health of the plants and their flowers.
Kim considers working with orchids one of the best things he’s ever done.
“They make me a happy person,” he said.