Winter Flowers

My orchids have been booming for a few months now. A nice contrast to the often dribbly and gloomy weather during this time of year.

This is from one of my moth orchids (phalaenopsis). This particular plant is currently on its third bloom off of the same original flowering stem! It just keeps sending out new flower stems off of the main one.

This one (which has a funny penguin looking bit on it) is some variety of oncidium orchid. This particular one sends out one really long stem filled with these two inch flowers. It also smells very nice as I believe all flowers ought to!

In case any one is interested in trying out orchid growing themselves, I personally don't think they are any more difficult than any other house plant. Here's how I take care of my orchids.

Light:

  • A bright windowsill will be perfect. Just be mindful that they don't get much or any full sun.
  • Mine get a tiny bit of morning sun which they seem to enjoy (as do most of my house plants).

Watering:

  • Water every week/week and a half - this is the same schedule for all of my house plants
  • In my experience, it seems like you're actually more likely to kill off a orchid by over watering it, than by letting it get dry. I've found that they prefer to dry out a bit between waterings. This is usually a good rule for any house plants. Most really don't like sitting in soggy soil for too long.
  • During the summer I put some orchid fertilizer in the water (which I just give to all my house plants because I'm lazy like that ;) )
  • Because they are grown in bark mulch, they don't take very much water. I just water until it starts coming out of the bottom.
  • Keep them on a tray of pebbles (I use aquarium rocks 'cuz they're cheaper than the fancy smancy "official orchid humidity rocks" - rocks are rocks)
  • The point of the tray (other than looking nice) is that it adds a bit of humidity to the area around the orchid - which they enjoy. Plus it catches the excess water from dribbling all over your windowsill and carpet. :)

Flowers:

  • I've had the moth orchids keep their blooms for up to four months.
  • When the flowers fall off, leave the stem until it drys out completely - then you can cut it back to the base of the plant. If you leave the stem, there is a good chance that it will bloom again very soon by branching off of the same stem.

Repotting:

  • I believe the recommendation is every few years. They will let you know by sending roots over the edge of their pot. Or when the bark has started to break down.
  • All they need is just medium sized bark mulch. Much less messy than repotting other house plants.

If I were to recommend a particular type of orchid for the orchid n00b, I would recommend the moth orchids (phalaenopsis). Also, they are the easiest ones to find. Personally, I wouldn't pay more than $15 for one. The best place I have found - at least on the US west coast - is Trader Joe's.

Anyway, I hope that all two of you who read this blog enjoy the photos and may they brighten up your winter a bit. ;)