About a Little Flower Business with Big Ideas

“My tropical plant collection began when I moved to Cardwell in the far north of tropical Queensland in 2017,” says Susan Fairbairn, owner and operator of the Little Flower Business.

She specialises in growing and selling tropical epiphytes – mini Orchids, Tillandsias, Pitcher plants and some Hoyas BUT with a twist!

“I was a semi retired freelance horticultural journalist when I moved here.”

“But I missed doing something and for me that always involved growing plants or writing or both.

“And then COVID came and shut life and most of my community projects down.”

At a friends coaching at the start of 2021 she started making terracotta pottery.

She realised she needed pots to house her orchid collection and she started to make pots and mounts with terracotta.

In traditional fashion, as used to be the case with old English pottery, she makes pots and mounts to suit the growth habit of the plants.

“ Mass production of planter pots has steered away from this tradition.”

Terracotta is porous = good drainage = easy watering: See my article here

Susan Fairbairn

A lot of tropical orchids are epiphytes or lithophytes and so a deep pot can lead to over watering of small plants.

Mounts for orchids typically are hardwood slabs or pieces of tree fern but terracotta clay, unglazed and glazed and painted or not are perfect for both epiphytes and lithophytes.

“Plus it is, I hope, a work of art, or at least something that looks nice in your home.” she said.

Painted terracotta pot
Painted terracotta pot

She says she designs her mounts like miniature gardens and the bigger sizes are perfect for displaying one or two minis plus an air fern or two making a perfect landscape.

Tillandsias have their own little houses which can be placed on shelves or hung on walls.

terracotta air fern planters
terracotta air fern planters

She says that some people steer away from growing orchids, “People don’t grow orchids because they feel they have to build a shade house or house hundreds of pots.

‘With terracotta mounts we are growing in vertical spaces, which can be great for people with limited space and for those indoor plant addicts.”

Terracotta leaf mounted with Phalaenopsis parishii
Terracotta leaf mounted with
Phalaenopsis parishii

She says, yes, with the right combination of light and humidity, you can grow and have orchids flower inside the house. A light misting with nutrients is all that is required.

She has been purchasing orchid flasks to create a garden to cater for orchid conservation.

“In time my orchid garden will be open to the public.”

A percentage of all monies raised from the business will be donated back to orchid conservation in the form of research and creative projects.

She is a member of the Tully Orchid Society, the Australian Orchid Council Inc, the American Orchid Society, and member of the Horticultural Media Association (HMA) and recommends joining an orchid society.

“There is usually one in your town or close by and they offer lots of benefits to beginning orchid growers, and also those with extensive collections and lots of experience.

“I’m always a horticultural journalist, an adult educator and down the track maybe, an enthusiastic, at least, potter,” she said when asked if she is actually retired; semi retired or working?

Contact the Little Flower Business – Susan Fairbairn on Facebook messenger, her website, or instagram to see a selection of pots and mounts when they become available.


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