Orchid Care

My Earthly Connection to Barb

Grumpa Joe has entrusted you with the almost impossible task of caring for a phaleanopsis  orchid plant. Here are the rules:

  1. Remember, the total dollar value of this plant is zero. I paid less than twenty dollars for it, and I received more than that in enjoyment while it bloomed in our house. Your mom’s orchid is another matter. I have taken care of it for nine years, and it has bloomed every year. As long as the plant lives, she is closer to me. That plant is priceless.
  2. It is very hard to kill an orchid, but you can do it if you are too diligent, and over water it.
  3. Orchids are air plants. Their roots do not like to be immersed in water. That is why there are holes in the pot. The roots need oxygen to survive.
  4. The roots don’t always grow in the pot. Often they grow out of the main stem into the air and look like green worms looking for a meal.  That is normal.
  5. The dangling roots will become desiccated on the ends. If so, don’t worry. They all do in an indoor environment in the winter. Mom’s orchid has survived since 2001 in a dry house.
  6. Orchids like lots of daylight, but don’t like a burning sunshine and heat. Any window in your house during the winter is fine. They survive cool nights, and moderate days (60-80 F).
  7. If the plant is too slow to bloom, it may need more light. Don’t sweat it, move it to a new spot with more light if you can. If it’s in the best place you have, be patient.
  8. The orchid you are taking care of is near blooming. If it does bloom, you will have blossoms for at least three months. Enjoy the bloom.
  9. Here are the secrets:
    1. Keep water in the pebbles. The pebbles make a mini-eco-system of humidity.
    2. Give the plant a cup of water weekly.
    3. Every week or two, place the plant in the kitchen sink, and run a spray of tepid (warm) water over the entire thing for five minutes. This re-dampens the media in the pot, and the orchid thinks it is back in the rain forest where its relatives grew up. The sink thing is watery mess, and requires some floor mopping .
    4. Before you take it out of the sink, pour water with fertilizer over the entire plant. Cover the leaves, the roots, and the potting media. Let it drain for a minute then put it back on its pebble base. Fill the pebbles with water.

To make fertilizer use this formula:

  1. In a gallon jug, place 1/8 teaspoon of the mix I have provided. (30-10-10) into the jug.
  2. Fill the jug with warm (not hot) water.
  3. Pour over the plant.
  4. One jug of mix makes two uses. If not, so be it.

Take time to smell the flowers

(These orchids don’t have an aroma.)

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