Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid)

I have become an orchid FREAK.  Unfortunately, the only species I've ever seen in good ol' rural Minnesota is Phalaenopsis. Even more unfortunate is that Walmart and Lowe's are my only choices in miles. Plus I like a bargain; in the orchid world, that may not be a good thing. :) With a little Internet research, I found several professional orchid vendors. Problem is, money's in short supply. I'm slowly easing into a new job as a figure skating coach, and I hope to take on more work at a local greenhouse this spring.

Enough of my rambling. Let's get to the good stuff.

I bought my first orchid in early May 2010 at the local Lowe's. I knew absolutely nothing about them, so I thought it best to embark on this challenge while spending only $9 on the smallest blooming one I could find, as to ensure I wouldn't have wasted my money had it died. Fortunately, it didn't! I probably owe that to my good luck of having a cashier who knew something about orchids and was willing to give me some advice. It had given me many purple-and-white blooms from two stalks, one on each tiny plant in the pot. Unfortunately, I fed it with "Orchid Food," which ended up killing off one of the two plants within 24 hours. Since then, I've been too terrified to feed it again, though I know a bit more about fertilizing it. Unwittingly, I let the remaining flower stalk fade without cutting it in hopes of another round of blooms. It grew new leaves faithfully all summer and dropped the old ones, which I now attribute to either underwatering or nature. It slowed growth this fall and completely stopped (as far as I can tell) by winter. It looks totally healthy, and I'm currently concentrating on giving it its required temperature changes in order to initiate blooming. I hope to have it in bloom again this May. It's a cute little dude, and I can't wait to see what it does.

A couple weeks ago, I stopped at a Barnes & Noble to get a good look in the gardening section. I was prepared to spend $20 or so on a good orchid book, but I ended up walking away spending $68 on all sorts of plant books... I read my orchid book (Orchid Growing for Wimps) from cover to cover in a matter of two hours. It was excellent and extremely informative. I trusted it, and learned my Phal was underwatered. I gave it a good soak, and the leaves are looking perkier already. By that time, I was on an orchid kick. I bought two more Phals the following day!
Here's a link to the book on Amazon (Hey! I paid $20 for mine!). I can't praise it enough.

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