Orchid Love

For as long as I can recall, my man has regularly bought me flowers or a flowering plant for indoors, and still does. Then, about 10 years ago, he would often buy me an orchid. Beautiful flowers, wonderful colours, long-lasting – the blooms would last about 4 months with me looking after them as I thought best: watering only with rainwater, keeping out of full sunlight and, despite many saying to mist regularly, I didn’t because, well, spraying water is messy. The flowers would eventually fade and drop, leaves shrivel and out they would go, consigned to the compost bin.

A few years ago I decided to try to encourage one back into a second flowering, letting it rest, giving it a drink occasionally and kept in a cool place indoors away from any sun. Zilch. Nothing, not a sign of growth. So tried with another, and another. At one stage we must have had 5 or 6 plants the shelf in the lounge doing nothing.

It was at this point we decided it was time to revamp the lounge, so the plants were moved onto the kitchen window sill (north-facing).  They looked healthy but still no signs of regrowth. Then, by sheer chance, I caught a TV show where an orchid grower was being interviewed. It was like a light going on. A beacon. She explained how to look after orchids and keep them going. Nothing complicated. Nothing expensive. Hey Presto! Her advice works. We now have a house full of orchids in flower and one or two waiting in the wings for their next flush.

The rules: Every 7-10 days, plunge the pot for 30-60 seconds or until bubbles stop, up to its neck in rainwater (orchids hate tap water) to which has been added a few drops of plant feed. Expensive, especially for orchids food is not necessary, use any plant food. I use Baby Bio. The roots of the plant (they always come in clear plastic pots) will look white when the plant is thirsty, turning green when they have had their fill. Also wash off any dust from the leaves with the rainwater. Leave it to drain and enjoy some daylight for about an hour, before placing back in its potholder, if used. I perform this routine en masse in the kitchen sink, leaving them on the draining board. I admit there have been a few times I’ve had no rainwater, so will use either tap water that has been boiled a couple of times and cooled or distilled water I use in the iron, but only very rarely. And always give them a good drink with rainwater as soon as I have some.

That’s it! It’s that simple. I keep the plants on the kitchen window sill until ready to burst into flower before moving them around the house where we can enjoy them, mainly in the lounge, with one always by the south-facing window.

Several live permanently on the windowsill, including Triff, short for Triffid (below), because it has never stopped flowering on its original two stems for 2 years. It’s a little top-heavy as the blooms are large, but it keeps on going and growing. I suppose I really ought to cut it down so it can start afresh but don’t have the heart to. More, I’m frightened if I do, it will not reflower.

The real star of the show is this one on the left. Incredibly, this is its third time in flower in less than a year, on a new stem each time, each having more and more flowers. Last October there were 18 heads, currently 22, with more buds coming.

Those pictured here are just a few of many we have currently in flower. Each one is well-worth that little bit of time and care for its reward. We love them, they lift our heart and spirit every time we look at them.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

12 responses to “Orchid Love

  1. Wow!!! I discovered a love of orchids a few years ago and have followed your path of trying to get them to re-bloom. May give it another go after seeing yours. They are really beautiful.

  2. Like Lavada said: Wow! These are beautiful. And something I will never have the patience to grow. I told my husband that and plan to tell the kids as it’s something that would not be easy for me to keep alive. I don’t have your green thumbs, Kit. I have certain houseplants that live despite my tending (or lack thereof.) But I so appreciate how well-tended yours are. They look beautiful and I’m sure they are also infused with love. 🙂

  3. Gorgeous. So lovey. My mom’s best friend (who passed several years ago) grew orchids and competed in shows. He was an amazing gardener. I see you have the same talent. I love the pictures. Brings back those memories of shows. Jillian

    • I think if I was growing to compete in shows, it wouldn’t be half as much fun for me to do. It’s the drive to tease them back into flower that excites me. Pleased you enjoyed them. 🙂

  4. Wow, gorgeous Kit! And I love the variety of colour. Going to try that tip myself…just need an orchid, LOL

  5. Hello, your orchids are gorgeous indeed. Thanks for the tip about the rain water, i think we still have some left in the rain container! I am a beginner in the keeping orchids alive and i was wondering if you need to repot or you leave them in their plastic plastic pot (the one they are in when you buy them!)

    • Hello Nicky. Orchids do far better left in their plastic pots for two reasons: The clear pots allow the orchid roots to absorb sunlight, as they would in nature growing on the side of a tree. This means the roots can also photosynthesize and add energy to the plant. However, you can place the clear pot inside a decorative pot, but take them out regularly when you water so they can drain and absorb some daylight. Secondly, because it is so easy to overwater orchids, by being in clear pots, you can see at a glance if they need watering or not. Remember – roots white, they need a drink; roots green, they have sufficient. Hope helps. And good luck with them.

  6. You are most welcome! Only too pleased to help.

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