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Don’t Want to Rescue a Cat? Try an Orchid.

May 23, 2010

A couple of years ago, while looking at an orchid display, I was told by a sincere nursery owner that I should avoid them because they’re to hard to maintain and keep alive.  A challenge I couldn’t ignore.

Orchid’s do require some attention but not as much as a cat.  Like other plants, they don’t always live but here are some ideas and tips that have been successful for us.

You don’t have to spend a lot.   Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Home Depot have orchids.  Sometimes, at Home Depot, you can find one looking sad and near death.  It will only cost a dollar or two to rescue. The high end orchid websites suggest you avoid those outlets because the flowers are mishandled and weak.  That may be true but if you want to learn it’s better to fail with the less expensive ones.

If you decide on a rescue there’s a few things to do.  Take the orchid out of the pot, snip off the dead roots, and discard the old bark.  Check for bugs.  Mealy bugs find the weak plants and attach to them.  They’re little white creatures that suck the life out of orchids and other plants as well. Here’s a link explaining what to do.  The cleaning and inspection is followed by re-potting with fresh orchid bark. You can reuse the original container if it has been run through the dish washer or cleaned in hot soapy water which kills any germs.  If you buy a healthy one just inspect for pests.  No need to repot.

Then look around and find a bright spot. Direct morning sunlight seems to work fine but most orchids don’t like direct afternoon sunlight.

I water once a week in the morning and add a very small amount of 20-20-20 solution dissolved in water for three weeks. On the forth week dissolve Seaweed Extract in the water.

If they don’t look happy after a while, try moving them to another spot in your home and keep a look out for the bugs.

Here are some pictures of a Phalaenopis (fal-en-OPP-sis) that was near death a year ago.  It’s been sitting above the kitchen sink and I think it likes the moisture from the faucet. The photo on the left is a couple of weeks prior to bloom and on the right in it’s full glory.

There are hundreds of opinions about orchid care.  A lot depends on where you live, the weather, natural light, etc.  I don’t claim to be an expert and if you have other ways to care for your orchids, that’s great.  This is what I do and it works for us.

From time to time, I will post photos and brief descriptions of other orchids as they bloom.

Anyone with questions or wanting some help, feel free to comment at the bottom of the blog or email and I’ll get back to you.

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From → Garden & Flowers

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