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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!