Sally Muir tending to some of her 50,000 orchids in the shade house.
Sally Muir tending to some of her 50,000 orchids in the shade house. Troy Kippen

Birthday present from 30 years ago begins orchid nursery

WHAT started as a single orchid as a gift 30 years ago, has bloomed into a nursery business with far too many orchids to count.

"Who could say? Maybe 100,000... there must be at least 50,000," Orchid Mackay owner Sally Muir said when quizzed about her nursery.

Regardless of how many are packed into the nursery, the family business supplies orchid flowers to only Mackay businesses from their Habana setup because of the high demand for the flowers.

"The flowers supply only the local market, they (Porters and Big W) take all the flowers we can produce because they are intermittent flowers," she said.

"They flower at different times of the year."

The nursery is on the Muir's property in Habana and all orchids are kept in a single shade house.

Ms Muir could sell everything she could get to flower, but there were a few species not for sale.

She shares her father's passion for the plants.

"It started with one orchid that mum bought my father for his birthday about 30 or 35 years ago," Ms Muir said.

"They had a cattle property about 100km south of here (Habana).

"I have been growing orchids for about 17 years.

"David (her husband) has walked in here about once since we have been here, only because I wanted him to put a big plant up.

Despite the size of the operation, the limited care the orchids need means Ms Muir can keep the business in the family. "All we do is fertilise once a week and water every second day and that's about it," she said.

There is also some pest control needed.

"Cockroach and mice, they love them (orchids). They eat the leaves and the flowers," Ms Muir said.

"When dendrobium beetle gets in here it is chaos."

Right now, Ms Muir plans to continue the business and maybe expand if the opportunity comes up.


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