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  • Writer's pictureGayle Albertini

Creator of the Month - Bill Pendleton and His Love Affair with Orchids

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

The Beacon is excited to introduce a new monthly feature - Creator the Month. Do you know someone who has a creative and interesting hobby? We want to hear from you. Please submit their name and creative passion here. It might be wood turning, making guitars, or pottery – we want to showcase the many talents in Fairfield Harbour.

Why do people love orchids? Are orchids as hard to grow as their reputation speaks?

Bill Pendleton

Ask Bill Pendleton about his orchids, and you will understand how passionate he is about growing them. Bill has devoted years to understanding, cataloging, and nurturing orchids. His home showcases a wide variety of orchids, proving he is an expert. Bill says, “Once you understand the growing cycle of orchids, you are hooked. Orchids are said to bring peace, love, and happiness to your life; they bring a way to escape from the stresses of everyday living.”

Bill was an avid gardener in his previous Connecticut home. His vegetable, perennial, and flower gardens became his hobby after retirement. But the limited growing season pushed him to another plant. Enter the magnificent orchid. Bill became a member of the Connecticut Orchid Society and won many blue ribbons for his prize orchids. He served as an officer of the club for five years, nurturing and encouraging other orchid growers.

After moving to Fairfield Harbour in 2016, Bill ramped up his orchid-growing addiction by transforming his basement into an orchid sanctuary. His basement supported an easy-growing environment with artificial light, ideal temperature conditions (55-80 degrees), proper ventilation, and a portable watering system. Bill has over 150 orchids in his collections, and each one is cataloged and tracked for blooming time. Non- productive orchids eventually get moved out.

Bill Pendleton in his orchid greenhouse.
Understanding the growing season

Bill explains, “Understanding the orchid growing cycle is crucial to success. Orchids bloom in the winter rest in the spring, and their active growing season is summer and fall. Orchids prefer a special soil mixture that includes four primary materials: bark, sphagnum moss, charcoal, and perlite. This supports healthy orchid growth and produces the biggest blooms.” Bill’s special orchid bark is imported from New Zealand.

Tropical orchids are epiphytic, which means they grow out of soil on the surfaces of other plants in their natural habitats. Because of this, orchids function differently than other varieties and have much more specific needs.

During Hurricane Florence, Bill’s basement was flooded with over 50” of water, and he lost many of his prize orchids. Being a dedicated orchid enthusiast, Bill set his mind to save as many as he could by flushing them with fresh water.

Bill is so dedicated to orchids that he often takes rescue orchids to bring them back to life. He loves all his orchids but has the most success with Lady Slippers.
Here are a few tips from Bill:
  • Don’t use the three “ice cube water” method. Take your orchid in its decorative pot and fill it up with water. Tap water works but orchids prefer RO water. They prefer Luke-warm water. After 10-15 minutes, remove the greenhouse plastic pot and let it drain thoroughly. Dump the decorative pot of water and return the orchid to that pot. Do this once a week or when the orchid soil becomes dry.

  • The fertilizer should be very weak (1/4 of the label directions) and applied once a month.

  • East-facing windows are best for growing orchids. They do not like direct sunlight; it will burn them up.

If you have an orchid that needs attention, contact Bill at
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1 Comment

Robyn Cloin
Robyn Cloin
Oct 05, 2023

This is awesome! I have two orchid. My Vanda is perfect

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