My new orchid
I am pretty sure my job costs me more than I earn, especially when I write about gardening. And that was certainly true this week.
Seeing all the orchids for sale in grocery stores made me wonder if they were really as tough to grow as their hot-house reputation suggests. I did some reporting, and the results are in my garden column today in The Sun.
But when I visited the orchids in Tom McBride's and Gary Krause's Little Greenhouse on Harford Road in Parkville, I was finished. I couldn't leave without one. It was like that with the daylilies, too. But that's a whole 'nother story.
This is the orchid I purchased, Phalaenopsis Goldsmith. Tom suggested it because there are still buds waiting to open. It should bloom for me for months.
It cost $30 - more than the $15 to $20 I'd have paid at Whole Foods or Home Depot. But it is very well established and has two wonderful flower spikes and large, glossy, flawless leaves.
How am I going to keep it alive? Different orchids require different growing conditions and Tom and Gary helpfully provide an instruction sheet with each purchase.
Here's what I need to do for my new orchid.
- Provide a bright window, preferably an east window, but not hot, direct sun.
- This orchid likes temperatures above 60 at night and between 75 and 85 during the day.
- Tom recommended a thorough watering once week, allowing the excess water to drain out of the pot. It should never sit in water and it should be allowed to get very dry between waterings.
- To provide humidity, set the plant on a tray of pebbles partially filled with water. Mist the plants during dry weather.
- Tom suggested that I fertilize, using something like Miracle-Gro at half-strength, every fourth or fifth watering. Don't overdue the feeding. These are fast-growing plants, so less is more.
- When the last flower drops, cut the flower spike halfway down the stem. Continue caring for it and wait for a possible rebloom. This orchid flowers 12 months out of the year, but cooler temperatures and some nitrogen fertilizer should help kick-start new blooms.
Wish me luck. And check back for updates.
Photo credit: Susan Reimer