Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wednesday Lagniappe: Orchid Killer

I enjoy having orchids around the home, especially now that they have come down in price significantly (most phalaenopsis or moth orchids you can buy are tissue clones, made in huge numbers in Asian plants, and this is what has brought the price down- this blog entry is not about the politics or socioeconomics of this practice, though I am happy to hear your comments in these areas).  I often buy orchids instead of cut flowers, because orchid flowers often last for months, giving some indoor color over a longer period of time than cut flowers.  My orchids usually end up dying from (what I suspect to be) my overcaring for them (overwatering; not transplanting them from the pot they came in, which often has life-limiting, poor-drainage).  So, for the last year, I have been neglecting the poor things, not watering them often, nor fertilizing them etc.  After the flower spike is gone, I stick them under florescent bulbs and in cool-ish attic and, other than a rare watering and picking off scale insects, I do little to nothing to them.  Well, these orchids have rewarded my neglect with...new flower spikes!  The one above, so far, is the most impressive, with multiple, branching spikes of buds.  Three of the other four orchids I have are spiking too!

In general, I find that my houseplants do best if I "neglect" them. Most people over water their houseplants anyway and I certainly do not do that.  I water, at most, once a week (except for that fainting peace lily), keep my house cool at night (62 degrees) and they do just fine.  It's just that I had read orchids need moister, warmer air than exists in most homes.  Not my orchids!  At least so far.  Not sure what the effect of these drier, cooler conditions will be on their longevity, but I have orchid flowers again!
Happy gardening.

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