Buying a plant table for a society raffle.

orchidnickApril 20, 2011

More than once I have had to find a plant table for our society raffle when the speaker does not provide one. In our area we have SBOE, Cal Orchids, Andy and the Cymbidium growers to choose from. We have done that a few times and the plants are becoming somewhat routine.

This time our speaker is going to talk on intergeneric Oncidiums and I ordered up a box of such plants from Hilo Orchid Farms in Hawaii. They are wholesalers and prefer to sell you a 'Box' which contains 24 plants. Normally you get 6 of each but with a little arm twisting she promised me no more than 3 of each. You don't get to select, they'll ship the best of what's about to bloom. I excluded straight Oncidiums.

2 weeks ago it arrived and will be raffled off in 2 days at our meeting. I got 24 plants all with ripe buds for $288, all inclusive.. Every plant has at this point fully opened a few buds, none of the spikes are fully flowered out, a perfect situation. I told them the day of the meeting and they timed it precisely.

There are 10 different types none have more than 3 of one type. I have them all sitting together in the greenhouse and it is a stunning palate of beautiful colors on 2' plus sprays. I'm very pleased and would recommend them. 3 of us are going to get together and order another 'Box' for our personal collection.

The day will come when I will need to order another plant table, has anyone done this and had a good experience? I would like to know. Earlier this year I got 25 budded, about to bloom, Cattleyas from Kawamoto, that was also a very positive experience.


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I would highly recommend Oak Hill Gardens. They offer a large selection of species at wholesale prices. My society did a group purchase from them a while back and it was fun and educational to compare notes on how the species did in our different conditions.

To qualify for the wholesale discount it was necessary to order 5 of each there were quite a few extra orchids available for sale. I posted the extra orchids on Craigslist which lured quite a few orchid enthusiasts to our meeting. Here's an article I wrote on using Craigslist to help promote your society.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 7:14PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

The thing not to do is rely on orchid society members to provide plants for the raffle, you will get lots of daggy cast offs.

So i always buy the raflle plants from a nursery and specify their choice of plant and sizes. I've always been happy with the plants received.

Similar procedures with the gift plants at Christmas and the lucky dip night. I'm not going to go into great detail with the order, i just give the nurseries i use some broad parameters and trust them.

34 plants arrived yesterday to be on-sold at a show on behalf of the local orchid society. Total cost including freight $370 about 70% of the plants are in bud.

Got to go and get them out of the bathroom otherwise there will be a domestic.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 7:59PM
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I can't imagine being able to resell 24 plants to our society members, even budded and at the great prices you are getting. We do a plant swap/buy for the holidays and getting $5 for an 8 pseudobulb, three lead cattleya would be big money... I think next time I am in CA, I am heading to your meeting!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 8:32PM
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We are a non-profit organization. That's because we spend more money than we make. Actually we try to break even. We do a spring and a fall show which generate profit which is then used for monthly expenses.

This Friday the speaker asked us to donate $75 to the AOS and we spent $252 (3 of the plants were sold privately as we try to keep the plant table cost to $250) on the plant table. People bought about $180 worth of raffle tickets leaving us $178 in the hole. Our income from the shows supports this kind of activity.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 12:37AM
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Well don't you know, but yesterday I got a Carter and Holmes catalog in the mail and it has a section for orchid society specials: 30 plants for $200. Looks like they are not blooming sized, though. I've not ordered from them, but maybe they are worth a look and will suit your purposes.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 11:38AM
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Our members like blooming plants on the raffle table. The Oncidiums were perfectly timed. I received them in full bud 3 weeks before the meeting and be the time of the raffle, they were all in bloom. Looked very festive. The other favorable thing about this is that no flowers were squashed in shipping.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 3:08PM
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I'd like to revisit this discussion. At our March meeting we might try a raffle table and I'd really love to hear the logistics of it. As I understand, you order a bunch of plants,- then just sell raffle tickets? So, I'm guessing the first person drawn gets first pick and so on? What if somebody gets drawn twice? Have you had more success with this, or with a silent auction type scenario? I think you are bang-on with blooming plants being more desirable.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 5:13PM
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You don't draw persons, you draw ticket numbers. If a person bought 100 tickets chances are he'll be drawn quite a few times. Raffle works much better than silent auction for us. Overall it's a real bargain. If the combined membership spends $180 for raffle tickets and gets over $500 worth (retail) of plants, you do the math. They certainly have and look forward to it every month. This month George Hatfield from Hatfield orchids in Ventura, CA will talk to us and he usually brings a very generous plant table. He may well bring 35 to 40 nice Cymbidiums for which we'll pay him $200. If the members cough up their usual $180, they'll get the plants for between $5 and $6 each.

That, plus the adrenalin rush and the unbearable suspense of the raffle draw makes it all worth wile. Even better than church bingo according to some of our senior female members!!!!!!!!!!


    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 5:35PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

I think some orchid society members believe in the cargo cult. They never buy a raffle ticket!
There are skinflints everywhere.
Anyway, I've nearly run out of raffle plants and will place an order with a local orchid nursery. Their choice is the way to go.
Eleven plants given out at a meeting.
Lucky door prize
Lucky Novice Exhibitor
Lucky Birthday of the Month
Best Judged Plant
Rest for the raffle
Cannot afford in-bloom plants. Most are one or two years from blooming.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 6:02PM
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Nick, what orchid society do you belong to?

Try some other Hawaiian growers such as Orchid Center by Richard Takafuji, and Orchids of Waianae.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:11PM
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We're doing OK with the local talent. Thanks for the suggestions.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:26PM
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I couldn't find websites for either of those growers. Do they have online catalogs?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:27PM
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I always buy raffle tickets and have won many times. Most times they are plants I'd rather skip, but that's the break. Our club in NY was huge and very monied but cheap. They would expect members to donate plants for the raffle. Most would bring in divisions or plants they couldn't get to bloom. Yet, each month the table was full and people bought tickets.

They had a great auction each year and ordered from the top growers - but raffles, they refused to pay for. The auction was advertised and open to the public. It drew a lot of people and the club made money.

I have to admit, I got some great plants from the older growers who were more than happy to share.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:25PM
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I looked at the Hatfield website again (a previous post brought me there some years ago) and I like the look of their 'small club' special. It looks like what you are getting as your raffle table, Nick. How far from blooming were they? I sent on the info to my programs planner for him to have a gander at it.
As to Jane's comment on an auction; I spoke to the Michigan OS's president over the weekend (my club had its show so all the local orchidophiles were assembled) and he said they do a great auction in the summer that raises lots of money. That is another idea worth pursuing I think- but I need to not be so cautious about new stuff.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:04AM
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Well, after all this nattering on, I finally went ahead and ordered what will, in my tenure with the orchid club, be the first raffle table. Talked to Hatfield yesterday and liked what I heard.
I'll have to split the plants into probably three meetings and intersperse with an order from another grower who does small stuff (thinking EEOM right now) so my windowsill people will also be happy. Thanks for helping me flesh it all out guys!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 7:49PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Good Luck! as I said above there are lots of skinflints around but to my way of thinking quality raffle plants are the go because they improve the quality of member's collections. So if you break even with the $'s that is bonus.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 4:24AM
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I bought my 8" tables at Costco. The legs fold up so easy to stack. the only problem I had was the water collected on the tops because my driveway slopes down So you drill a hole any pace that water settles. It holds two rows plants deep. My flat are 18 X 18 for show I dress the tables with a cloth even for sales.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 5:10AM
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whitecat8(z4 MN)

The different OS activities are interesting. Minnesota has almost 3 million of its 5+ million people living in the 7-county "Metro area.â The state is small and compact, compared to CA and others, and its only society has about 300 members. It meets in Minneapolis and fortunately, is active and has a healthy bank balance.

~ The five-six raffle plants monthly are donated by members, and business is brisk. You buy tickets for a specific plant, so you don't risk winning the Dendrobium, Oncidium, etc. if you only want the Catt. One time, I donated extra plants from an EOoM order and a few other nice plants that weren't loving it here.

~ If the speaker isn't bringing their own plants, members can sell theirs. The sales are popular, even though plants are rarely blooming and may be small.

~ When the speaker brings their plants, members buy directly from the speaker at retail prices.

~ In late August, the society exhibits plants at the State Fair in St. Paul.

~ In September, the OS has a large, public sale of their own plants at a St. Paul garden center. One hour before the sale begins, participating members can buy each others' plants. It's a hit with members and the public, and sellers have extra $$ for the annual October weekend bus trip to Wisconsin and Chicago-area growers. (We have only a couple of commercial growers in MN, and it takes 6.5 hours to drive straight to Chicago.)

~ Occasionally, members pre-pay for a large order from, say, Ecuagenera.

~ The only time plants are given away is at the holiday dinner in December. Members pay for their meals. I haven't been to the dinner but understand these plants are blooming size and bought directly from a commercial grower.

Arthur, it would be great to have 11 plants given away each month.

Best, WhiteCat8

This post was edited by whitecat8 on Tue, Feb 4, 14 at 6:31

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 6:29AM
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