Some say Mitsi Runyan's secret ingredient to her award winning orchids is the contributions of her pet rabbit, River.

But it also could be the ground-up oyster shells and granite grit she buys at local feed stores.

Ms. Runyan mixes equal parts of pro mix HP growing medium, sodling fir bark and medium charcoal to grow her award winning paphiopedilum orchids.

"It takes a lot of patience," Ms. Runyan said. "It takes seven or more years to get a bloom on a paphiopedilum."

In the 1970s, Ms. Runyan decided she needed a hobby. She went to the library for some books to learn how to grow the orchids and got started.

Moving from Houston meant leaving some plants behind, but relocating to a place with an active orchid society was a pre-requisite

Today, she has more than 600 orchids from all over the world growing in her backyard greenhouse in Whitehouse, where she has lived since 2007.

The retired physics teacher buys her plants online from growers in Hawaii and California.

"There are different ones blooming throughout the year, even in the dead of winter," Ms. Runyan said. "Many bloom all year long."

Ms. Runyan will join orchid growers from Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas this weekend at the Southwest Regional Orchid Growers Association Spring meeting show and sale hosted by the Central East Texas Orchid Society. Orchid growers will bring their best orchids for display and judging, and orchid retailers will be selling species from all over the world.

Orchids are judged against others of the same species on their color, size and shape. Although there isn't prize money for winning at an American Orchid Society show, there is a certificate, and winning plants are featured in the American Orchid Society Monthly Magazine.

The show and sale is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Tyler Rose Garden Center.

Growers will be on hand to answer questions.


If you go

What: Southwest Regional Orchid Growers Association Spring meeting show and sale

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Tyler Rose Garden Center.

Cost: Free admission










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I started working at the Tyler Morning Telegraph in June 2016. I am a retired U.S. Air Force Sr. Master Sergeant. After a 21-year military career, in Security Forces, the military police of the Air Force, I went back to college and studied journalism.