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Orchids are Strange Puppies...

Every year around this time I get real antsy for color, so florrie and I decided to collaborate on a colorful post, and nothing spells color better than orchids which incidentally bloom around this time of year. I even got a camera from the Jews for this purpose alone, with the help from Aridog and florrie. The camera and I have been having a rough period of adjusting to each other, so I apologize for the quality of pictures. Aridog says it's because I don't read the instructions, but who has time for that? Maybe when I retire. The reference to the Jews was an obligatory (but true!) touch, because no post on bloggie is authentic without it. Now that that's out of the way, we can proceed.

I got hooked on orchids about three years ago and have since acquired over twenty (I really should stop, since watering alone takes about two hours a week). I was first introduced to them at the Planting Fields Arboretum on Long Island and was always under the impression that they were impossible to grow at home. The Home Depot, where it all started, shattered that belief.

Orchids are really not that difficult to grow at home if you can provide them with a few necessities such as high humidity for at least most of the year, correct light and correct watering. What forces them to bloom is the difference of at least 10 degrees between day and night during the fall months. Since I don't have air conditioner at home, the high humidity and the temperature differential are easily achieved. When not in bloom, I keep my orchids in a spare (formerly Michael's) room with eastern exposure (the best for light). By placing them close to an open window, I make sure they get plenty of air movement and temperature differential. Bunching them together helps maintain higher humidity. Just so:

orchids 019.jpg

Once they start blooming, I move them to a display area in the living room, where the only thing that matters is keeping them away from direct sun to keep the blooms from fading prematurely.

orchids 004.jpg

The most common and the least expensive orchids are Phalaenopsis (Phals for short). They usually bloom once or twice a year and their blooms last the longest-anywhere from three to nine months. Mine are not in bloom at this time, the picture below is from last year, taken with my boss's cheap crappy camera, so don't blame the Jews and my advisors. The orange one lasted nine months and was a rescue from my hairdresser. The pink one is my very first Phal from Home Depot. It blooms like a clock every six months.

packen orchid2.jpg

This is my second Phal, a gift from Home Depot. It didn't bloom for two years, even thought the foliage was luscious. I suspect that was because it was originally planted in sphagnum moss which holds too much moisture. Once I repotted it in bark chunks, it sent a flower stalk (it will take awhile for it to open, I will post an update when it does):

orchids 046.jpg

This is a Cattleya, I think they are used for corsages. I've only had it for a year and it rebloomed recently-yay! Cattleyas smell heavenly, one of the few common orchids which actually smell. Unfortunately, the blooms don't last that long, just a couple of weeks.

orchids 002.jpg

This is Psychopsis--my pride and joy. Isn't it bizarre? What's interesting about this one is that it blooms continuously at the tip of the same stalk for up to 12-16 years. I've had mine for a year and it bloomed about 5 times. The first picture is taken today, as it is about to open, and the second picture taken a year ago, with the ghost of Anchie on the background.

Another purchase from a year ago, which I did with trepidation. It had one flower stalk when I bought it and I doubted I would get more out of it, looking so fragile, but as you see, I now have two stalks! What's weird about this one, is that an open flower doesn't fade or shrivel like most of them, but drops while still absolutely intact at the time the next bud on the stalk is beginning to open. I thought I was doing something wrong, but then read up on it and that's the way they should act. Seems like such a waste...

Oops, I don't know what this is doing here...

Ooops, another one... sorry about that.

This one is probably familiar to all of you, the so-called pitcher orchid. They are more difficult to rebloom, so I'm quite proud.

There are more orchids to come once they start blooming, so I will be updating you, but don't hold your breath.

Now back to you, florrie!

I am thrilled that packen agreed to write a post about the orchids. I got my first orchid, 'Sharry Baby' (AKA 'Sweet Fragrance'), in 2002; it bloomed for months and smelled like freshly grated chocolate! Unfortunately, it never bloomed again and only lived a couple years. After my 2007 hospital stay, packen generously gave me a gift certificate to purchase some orchids from a nursery in Hawaii. I am happy to report that they are doing very well and both are going to bloom again!! Here they are, Phal. Brother 'Sara Gold' (I think it's the same as packen's third picture), and Oncidium 'Sharry Baby' ~


I have one other orchid (yes, a Home Depot variety :-), that is currently blooming. Sure enough, the blossoms by the direct light have faded - now I know why.


Posted by guest author: packen on Jan 26, 2009 5:12 pm

5 comments, latest by Anjilo Smith at 3:01 pm 4/17

#1 Anjilo smith at 12:34 pm on Apr 17, 2017

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