The Wild Orchid Company was founded by William (Bill) Mathis, Ph.D. in 2001.
Bill became interested in native terrestrial orchids in 1970 as a graduate student at the University of Arkansas. As a part of his masters program he conducted a series of ecological studies on ‘Small Yellow Lady’s Slipper’ Orchids in Northwest Arkansas. After completing his MS degree in Botany, he moved to the Agronomy Dept and completed a Ph.D. At this point he accepted a job with a major agricultural company and worked as a research scientist and manager for 25 years. He maintained his interest in terrestrial orchids over the years and, in 2000, he set up a lab and started growing a number of species from seed, as well as buying seedlings and mature plants in an effort to accumulate large numbers of ‘Showy’ upland and wetland terrestrial orchids species.
In 2001, when it became apparent that early retirement was a reality, he started The Wild Orchid Company, focusing on the production and sales of a variety of terrestrial orchids (North American, European and Asian species) that are hardy in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Currently, he is working with hybridization and induced polyploidy of several Bletilla, Cypripedium, Calopogon, Arethusa and Calanthe species in an effort to select specific plants for horticultural use.
In 2005, he wrote and published a book, The Gardener's Guide to Growing Hardy Perennial Orchids, which is a ‘How to' book using a non-technical and practical approach to present the basic requirements for successfully growing hardy perennial orchids.
Bill enjoys giving presentations to local Orchid Societies and Garden Clubs on various aspects of his work with terrestrial orchids. He especially enjoys the excitement of the typical outdoor gardener when they realize that orchids can be grown in their backyard without a greenhouse.