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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Orchids in my window

House plants have never been my strength. Strange as it might seem, I have problems forgetting to water them or take care of them. So 6 years ago when Eve gave me an Orchid I thought "oh no, another plant I'm going to slowly torture to death". Imagine my surprise when this plant not only thrived but continue to bloom for me year after year!

The type of Orchids I've been growing are Phalaenopsis. As house plants I find them ideal, they don't require high concentrations of light, and if you forget to water them every now and then they don't seem to mind. In fact, if I understand it correctly, too much water is how most people kill their Orchids.
About a month ago my daughter Emily and I were at the local supermarket where they had a table full of Orchids. Emily liked the hot pink varieties but I just had to have this darling little chartreuse one. The sale price of $14.99 put it right in the same category as a nice cut flower arrangement. How many cut flower arrangements would still be going strong a month later?

Last spring when my Mom drove up from Florida she brought a few of her Orchids with her. They've been in my den window since then, blooming more often than not. My only complaint is that they are all white (hear that Mom :-) Guess I need to shop for some other colors...

While I'm far from an expert on Orchids I'll share what's worked for me. In the summer I water them every 10 days or so, once the heat is on in the house I step that up to once a week watering. That might not be needed in your home but the heat here rises right up the wall under the windowsill so I find they dry out faster in winter.

Once the blooms are finished (thankfully they are extremely long lasting) I don't cut back the stem unless it turns a dried brown and appears dead. Even then I often only trim the stem back a few inches. So far I've always had a new node push out from lower on the stem and before I know it, there's more blooms for me to enjoy.

I've never fertilized these plants, it's the one thing I think they would like that I haven't provided. If you grow orchids and have some tips on fertilizers, please leave me a comment.

Still not sure you want to try them? Get a copy of Judy White's "Bloom-Again Orchids" published by Timberpress. I've found it to be a wonderfull book filled with luscious photos. In fact, it has inspired me to try to add a few new varieties and now I also have two miniature Oncidium Twinkle orchids that are just delightful!

As soon as we have another day with temperatures well above freezing I think I'll bring home one of those pink ones for Emily. Shush, don't tell her, it's a secret!


Beth said...

Your orchids are so pretty! Best wishes as you move. Take the pretties with you as best you can!

webb said...

Nice orchids! Phaels are great to grow and happy in almost any home. And yes, they do like to be fed.

One of the easiest things to do - if you can find it easily - is fish emulsion. It's a liquid loaded with fish by-products (just don't go there!) that you mix with water. For orchids use 1/2 of the normal strength and feed every other week.

If you can't find that, just use any soluable fertilizer - you know like MiracleGro, but dilute it to 50%.

They will also benefit from a shot of Emsom salts in the fall. You can usually find it in a "milk carton" type container in a garden center. It's a crystal you dissolve in water. In the fall, just give them a half strength dose and it will jump start their bud development.

One thing that Phaels will not take is the gas from my fireplace! Mother has raised orchids for years and keeps bringing them to me in full bud and ready to bloom. Two days in the same room with teh fireplace and they drop all their buds. My next home is going to a have room with light and no fireplace! Glad they are working for you.

Carolyn said...

I love the chartreuse one too but white is also lovely. they do seem to thrive on neglect.

Randy Emmitt said...

I love orchids, but I tend to kill them. Likely too much watering. Enjoyed your photos.

Patsi said...

Good point about the cost of fresh cut verses your lovely Orchids.
Not big on house plants myself...not enough sun light.

Anonymous said...

At the coldest part of the year, the orchids are appreciated more than ever.

LC said...

I just discovered your blog via an old posting you did on voles... what a kick! I think I'm really going to enjoy reading through your archives! LC

LC said...

I just discovered your blog via an old posting you did on voles... what a kick! I think I'm really going to enjoy reading through your archives! LC

Andrea said...

Congratulations on your perennial blooming orchids, and self sufficient too. As long as the conditions are right they are happy and will flower. Maybe you have them naturally; light, temperature and humidity. In this country the Phals will not flower unless our Dec nights temperatures are low, which seldom happen.