Oh I remember seeing that huge orchid sitting on the corner table. Green lush leaves, shinny like polished leather, almost fake looking. The flower spike coming out of the plant shooting straight up and then bending down at the top to create a cascade effect of flowers. And the blooms, oh the blooms…large white petal flowers almost the size of my hand! The flowers seemed to dance every time someone walked past them, so delicate and light.
That was me in a Master Gardener class distracted from the lecture waiting for the orchid raffle to take place. I was never really interested in growing flowers, my thing was to grow veggies. I never stopped doing doing that, growing my own food and the success of harvesting an edible prize is an awesome feeling. But that night, that orchid and that raffle changed my interests a bit. All of a sudden I wanted that plant, I wanted the flowers…it looked so luxurious and delicate. Lucky me I won the raffle! Though my number was the second to last number so I didn’t get the huge orchid I was looking at all night…instead I got a mounted orchid that was not in bloom and was significantly smaller. It didn’t matter, my interest in orchids had ignited when I saw that one orchid, a white phalaenopsis orchid.
I took my new plant home and I had no idea how to care for it. To start, the thing was attached to wood (?), no soil at all! I could see the roots hugging the piece of oak, and some roots were dangling in the air. So I started to research about them. I wanted to see that plant blooming. The foliage of the orchid plants is gorgeous on its own, but the real show is when the flowers open…that’s the showstopper! I had to learn where they come from, the kind of plant they are, their ideal growing environment, and the conditions I needed to provide for the plant to thrive. Like any topic in the world, the internet provided me with the information I needed. Maybe too much information. You see, searching online you can find information about anything. The searching is easy, the compiling, sorting, and digesting the information is the difficult part.
Growing orchids at home has been part of my life for over a decade. In that period, I have had a lot of people asking for advice. I am happy to talk orchids anytime, I love to help other people grow these amazing plants at home and enjoy the pretty flowers, in a way I am helping the plants that are so often mistreated because they are different. They are like the pitbulls of the plant world. We can’t care for an orchid the same way we care for a snake plant, or a cactus, or ficus, or a monstera. Any time I hear “I can have an orchid, I kill them” I feel the need to help, because I know orchid can be easy to care for… if you know what they need.
Did you know there are thousands of different kinds of orchids? That some are edible? (uuuh…vanilla) That some grow attached to trees but are not parasitic? That phalaenopsis orchids are the most popular ones and are also known as the moth orchid? That they can’t survive in potting soil? That they are more likely to die of over watering that underwatering? There is so much to learn about them but once you know the basics, life with an orchid becomes much easier.
If you have an orchid and want to become an Orchid Whisperer or you are thinking about getting one but you are not sure how to care for it, I want to give you a gift. I want you to have my Orchid Care Quick Sheet and I want you to have success with your own orchids at home. This is a condensed resource, the same information I use to keep my orchids healthy at home.
Keep growing your plant collection. Add more orchids to it and enjoy the pretty blooms. I am excited to see some orchid WINS!