Off family, Waldor Orchids blooming at Philadelphia Flower Show for over 90 years

LINWOOD, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia Flower show kicks off this weekend! We introduce you to one local family who started showing off their work there nearly 90 years ago.

Bill Off says he got turned on to orchids at an early age. He followed in the footsteps of his father, a florist who delivered to a hotel in Atlantic City.

"And they decided to start growing orchids because he thought they were much more interesting and more challenging than any other flowers he was growing for the hotel," he said.

He established himself as an orchid grower and Waldor Orchids now spans three generations - with a fourth in the wings.

"Everything is just learned from my dad or from experience and I wouldn't want to do anything else," said Bill.

"Well, so I'm kinda like Uncle Bill. We grew up here, we were here around orchids our entire lives and you learn a lot," said manager, Dave Off.

The Offs grow a variety of orchids in their seven expansive greenhouses.

"We sell a lot of Cattleyas, Cimbidiums, Phalaenopsis - everybody wants something different," said Bill.

"They're rare, they're exotic. My granddad actually had a really interesting quote he said: "It amazed me how such a beautiful flower would come out of what most people call an ugly plant'," said Dave.

The Offs have mastered the art of patience to get those beautiful blooms that can take years to achieve.

"The window you keep it in in the house and the amount of water you give it are the two most important secrets of growing an orchid," said Bill.

"There's so much expectation and when you see a bloom for the first time it's always really exciting," said Dave.

The Offs first exhibited at the Philadelphia Flower Show in the 1930s and they've been taking part consistently for the past 50 years.

"So this year, the whole show is Riviera Holiday and we had a lot of fun with it. We're doing an indoor, outdoor hotel suite," said Dave.

Bill is in charge of making sure the plants bloom at just the right time for the show, while Dave does most of the design work.

"But the design work, my granddad was very artistic, so he basically taught my dad. And then my dad taught me the same aspects of how to design and display. It's a family thing," said Dave.

"We just grew up knowing that's what we were going to do. I wouldn't want to do anything else," added Bill.

The Philadelphia Flower Show takes place from February 29 through March 8th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

For tickets and more show information, CLICK HERE.
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