CHICAGO—Have you had enough cold, snowy, icy, dark days of winter? How about a taste of the tropics right here in Villa Park... orchids as far as the eye can see.
(The story begins with beautiful shots of orchids set to the music of Pavarotti)
Orchids by Hausermann Sales Manager Dana Harrison says, "They've always had a certain aura mystery about them."
And Irene Finney of Villa Park says, "People just love em."
This is Orchids by Hausermann, a not-so-little piece of paradise that's been a Chicago area institution for 90 years.
"3 generations of Hausermanns are standing right here right now," says Gene Hausermann, whose grandfather Carl founded the company in 1920 to grow roses, gardenias, and sweetpeas for cut flower arrangements. They brought orchids into the floral mix in 1935.
"There's over 30,000 different species worldwide."
Hausermann's biggest success story is a hybrid they hit on a half a century ago called the Irene Finney, now known all over the world.
"There's nothing that has surpassed it in quality. After 40-50 years of trying, we're still using the same plant, Irene Finney, that was named after my aunt."
Meet THE Irene Finney!
"My husband was doing the breeding of the orchids and he said we're gonna name this after you, Irene Finney. He thought I think it was gonna be a good one."
That success story doesn't mean the Hausermanns have stopped trying to top it. Gene Hausermann shows us around their on-site laboratory.
"It's gotta be a nice clean area all the time."
This on-site lab allows technicians to clone their favorite orchids, creating exact duplicates, as well as experimenting with new varieties.
"Once the plants are put in it, then they're gonna be in this situation over here where you see the plants actually growing in these bottles. We probably have approximately 30,000 to 35,000 plants in here at a given time."
They call them bottle babies, orchids in waiting, some of them taking four to seven years from seed to first bloom.
Tom Kalina from Fox Valley Orchids says, "We do a lot of pollinations of rare and endangered species."
Some orchids can't be cloned, like the exotic lady slippers, identifiable by the pollination pouches. Tom Kalina got hooked at Hausermanns as a college student when he bought an exotic white and green variety.