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Weekend ‘thing’ blossoms into full-fledged floral business By Patrick McCallister Staff writer PALM CITY — Christina Pardo’s DNA probably looks like orchids and bromeliads. “My mother always had orchids and bromeliads around the house,” she said. “My mother always had gorgeous gardens; people always had something to say about them.” Pardo owns Blooming Freedom at 3993 S.W. Leighton Farm Ave. in Palm City. The nursery specializes in orchids and bromeliads. She started the business in her garage back in 1995. Pardo hit the flea market on weekends, and started selling to a growing list of area florists the following Mondays. Pardo was startled at how quickly her business grew. By ’98, Blooming Freedom moved to its 5-acre property. That’s a lot more than Pardo was expecting when she started the business. “It was just a weekend thing,” she said. But, Pardo’s business plan followed actor Barry Williams’ famous quote: “The only advice I can offer is to find what you love to do, find the joy in it, and

express yourself through your passion.” Pardo not only loves flowers, but giving folks tips about growing the perfect orchids and bromeliads. “A lot of people kill these plants with overwatering,” she said. “We water orchids only once a week, once every 10 days.” There are plenty of tips for successful orchid growing at For example, beginning orchid growers should stick to established plants — all the better if those plants are in bud with at least one open flower. Orchids have different lighting needs, ranging from the phalaenopsis on the lower to the vanda on the higher ends of light preferences. Direct sunlight is not the orchid’s favorite. All the different orchids prefer diffused light. Orchids also like the air humidity around 40 to 70 percent. There are a few easy ways to ensure this with home plants. Another tip about orchids — they don’t like stagnant air. Like people, the flowers enjoy ceiling fans. Of course, tips are also available by visiting Blooming Freedom. “We have classes for free,” Pardo

Mitch Kloorfain/chief photographer Employee Luz Moran tends to orchids at Blooming Freedom. Owner Christina Pardo started the business in a garage in 1995, and has parlayed it to a 5-acre parcel on Leighton Farm Avenue in Palm City. said. “We have classes once a month.” The next classes will be on May 4. Orchids at 10 a.m., and bromeliads at 2 p.m. “We get 50 people in the classes, sometimes more,” Pardo said. What’s interested a lot of folks is Pardo’s talent at growing full-sun

bromeliads. “There’re not many bromeliads that grow in full sun,” Pardo said. In addition to selling the flowers and teaching classes, Blooming Freedom has everything needed to grow them, from soil to the

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