My Orchid Surprise

I am not an orchid grower although am always delighted to be given one as a gift.  However,  I know once it has finished flowering that is the end of it.   Believe me I have tried very hard to look after them, read all about the care and conditions they like and moved them around the house to find the ideal spot but to  no avail.  I am left with a green leaf plain plant with no intention of flowering ever again.

There are some people who have pot after pot of various orchid species and proudly announce they have had them for years and they flower time and time again.   They are the same people who can’t understand why I have so much trouble, proudly announcing they need very little care and are really easy.  Well not for me….. until  now!

On my birthday in  July, I was delighted to receive the most beautiful orchid plant delivered to the office as a present.  It was laden with pretty pink flowers and bloomed for weeks.  We were even beginning to take bets on when the last flower would fade.  When it finished, I cut the stems to half their height and left it to the side of my desk.  When I say left, I really meant ignored, with the only time it was watered was when I had some left over in the bottom of my glass on a Friday.  It was easier to do that than walk to the kitchen to tip out a few millilitres of water.

I nearly threw it out before Christmas, but the leaves were still green and the roots looked healthy.

When we returned to work after the Christmas break it was with great excitement we noticed that there were tiny little nodules appearing at the tips of the stems.  So it remained in situ and we monitored it with interest’ like expectant parents.   It has been very slow to do anything but it was growing and we knew that with a bit of luck very shortly we would have flowers.  There was a great temptation to start to look after it and water it but I decided to treat it as it had been treated in the past and not give it a fright of sudden care.

Today, I came into work and my orchid had given birth to its first full flower.   I am truly delighted and proud of my ignored and infrequently watered beautiful orchid plant.

I have looked this species up on various orchid websites and believe it is a PHALAENOPSIS.  If there is an expert reading this and I have it wrong please let me know.

It was only last weekend I was listening to a garden phone-in program on the radio.  A caller was asking about growing orchids and was recommended to feed it with tomato food and ensure the plant is placed on a bed of gravel so it doesn’t sit in water.  The other recommendation I can proudly say I followed and was to never feed it with tap water.  The water we drink at work comes through a purifier so maybe that is the secret of my success.

Always aware of the Health and Safety police, lest someone should poke their eyes out,  I invented my own little protection to place on the top of the sticks the stems are being trained up.   If you look closely you will see orange tab markers – you know the ones that are sticky at one end and you place on files to flag up pages etc.

As I was snapping away on my mobile (cell) phone this afternoon, when I looked more closely I saw that there are more shots at the tips.  You can just about see it on the stem towards the front of the photo.

We all had a hand in the photos with one of my colleagues, deftly placing a large piece of white paper behind the plant as a background.   I think they were laughing at me though rather than with me, as I said I could feel a blog post coming on.

My dilemma now is do I start to feed it or shall I just ignore as I have done since July?  Help advice badly needed please.

14 thoughts on “My Orchid Surprise

  1. Beautiful orchid pictures. I’m not really good with indoor orchid care. The last time I remember while still in the tropics, we planted our orchids on a drift wood, on a partially shaded area and spray fertilizer once a month…but that was 10 years ago…So, that makes me rusty! I will check it out when I go home this Summer, my mom is great with orchids. Best wishes to you and your family.

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  2. I don’t know much about orchids but it seems like benign neglect is working…so I’d just stick with it! What a neat post! I bet it was exciting watching the transformation each day.

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  3. I will ask my Mother for tips, she has kept her orchids for years, weirdly she calls them ‘Elijah’s’….I don’t know why but it has stuck!

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  4. It’s a Phalaenopsis all right, and a beautiful one at that! 🙂 You have done the right thing to make it produce flowers: Letting it dry out between waterings and not water it too much or too often. You can actually make a healthy orchid that has only been green and green for ages produce flowers by “forgetting” it for a long while. Then it “thinks” that the times are bad and it might not even survive, and then it’ll use its last powers to flower.

    When it finally does this, then, it actually needs a bit of support to get through the flowering period. It needs a bit more water than before, and even a little bit of fertilizer, as suggested above. But never give an orchid the same amount of fertilizer as for other plants. You can use normal fertilizer but then you’ll need to dilute it a lot. Otherwise, you can get special orchid fertilizer and be sure that you don’t overfeed it. With orchids, that’s far worse than forgetting it.

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  5. I am the kiss of death to orchids. The only advice I was given was not to move them and you could kill them with love. If yours is happy flowering and it’s not broken don’t try and fix it. Enjoy the flowers while they last LOL 🙂 You could always experiment feeding after it’s flowered to replenish it…sound logical, probably not LOL 🙂

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  6. Hi,

    Glad to see your Orchid is blooming again 🙂 It must likely enjoy the conditions in your office.

    I’ve never had problems feeding my orchids with tap water, so I wouldn’t worry about. I’ve 3 at the moment and each one I’ve had for years; the oldest being around 5 or so now which blooms without fail every year; this year’s been its best year actually with 7 stems on it. I rarely water them; after all they live ON other trees sometimes high in the canopy, but I do keep them in the kitchen where it’s often more humid due to washing pots, watching clothes etc which I believe helps. I saw on gardener’s world the other year someone from Kew telling how to water and that is to water them for a while, but allow the water to run out of the little pot. This way the water is soaked in without them sitting in the water – oh and only do this when the roots are that silvery colour rather than a mat green; the silver means they are dry and need water.

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  7. For Phals, I tend to use a really, really dilute fertiliser. I start by sticking the plant under a tap and running the tap through it for a while (tap water is safe for orchids where I live). Or you could just dump a couple of cups of your water through it. Wet the bark thoroughly. Then dump a cup of water containing the really, really (I can’t stress this enough) dilute fertiliser through.

    You can’t water an orchid too *much*, just too *frequently*. Most people water them too often with too little water at one go and then leave them sitting in water. Soak them thoroughly, then let them almost dry out between waterings.

    Congratulations on a job well done!!

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