By Erik Stegemiller
Special to IBJ
Hoosier Orchid Co., a far-northwest-side company that grew to become one of the nation's most specialized orchid growers, is going out of business at the end of August.
Founder William Rhodehamel said the ornamental flowers have become a commodity now stocked even at stores like Costco.
"It used to be that if you wanted orchids in Indianapolis, you had to come to us," Rhodehamel said.
Business also withered because fewer people are showing interest in the myriad specialty versions that Rhodehamel raised. Membership in the American Orchid Society, a group of hobbyists and enthusiasts, has fallen substantially in recent years.
Rhodehamel started Hoosier Orchid in 1989 after a gift of three of the flowers from a friend sparked an ongoing fascination. He eventually cultivated orchids never before grown from seed, as well as some varieties that have never received scientific names.
"We have some incredibly rare plants here, some not maintained anywhere else in the world," Rhodehamel said. "We'll put those in botanical gardens where we know they'll be safe."
Almost all the plants in the 5,000-square-foot greenhouse at 82nd Street and Lafayette Road will be offered to the public through Hoosier Orchid's Web site and sales on site.
Operations with mail-order and walk-in customers will continue as usual until Aug. 30, when shelves will be cleared.