Eating My Words

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flowers, gardening

I always said, firmly, that I was not going to ‘get into’ orchids because, even from a distance I could see the dangerous rabbit hole that would lead to an orchid addiction. 

Well, I slipped. I held out for a long time but in seems inevitable, doesn’t it? Those gorgeous, exotic blooms appearing mostly in the winter when living color is so desperately needed. They’re easy to grow (at least the ones I have are) and have become pretty easy to find and are quite affordable. Most of mine were on sale or clearance at the grocery store. 

I am still very new at orchid growing (I’m working my way through The Orchid Whisperer by Bruce Rogers which had been very helpful but kinda dangerous since it’s filled with lots of tempting pictures) and my collection is very modest. But I’ve been encouraged by my success so far. My growing method is pretty simple. They’re situated in bright locations (I’m lucky in that I have a lot of natural light in my house). Once a week I take them all to the kitchen sink (I’m going to have to switch to the bathtub soon) where they get a nice lukewarm bath with the sprayer. I make sure to spray under the big strappy leaves and watch for pests. Then I let them sit in the sink and humidify each other for a few hours. I’ve just started giving them a drink of diluted orchid fertilizer each week too. 

Last year I set the seven I had at the time (ha! I have more than seven now) outside for the summer. I don’t have much shade in my garden and I didn’t do a very good job of shading them when I first moved them outside, so some of them got some sunburn (but have recovered now). I plan to buy some shade cloth this year and shield them until they adjust. Of those seven plants, five of them are now in bloom or about to bloom. Lovely. 

One of the most brilliant things about orchids, other than those breathtaking blooms, is that they bloom for, literally, months. All of my orchids are Phalaenopsis (commonly called moth orchids); it is not unusual for a flower spike to have multiple blooms for two to four months. I bought two orchids from the clearance cart at my local grocery store a couple of months ago for $10 each – and that included a lovely ceramic cache pot for each one. Both were blooming at the time, although the flower spike was no longer full. Well, they’re still blooming and look like they’ll bloom for another month at least. Little effort but it leads to great gains. 

While my collection is modest and the blooms aren’t as full or extravagant as you’d find in a conservatory, their gorgeous colors in the midst of this very grey winter are a joy. 

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