Orchids are a wonderful, blooming houseplant. There are many varieties that are easy and adapted to normal house environments. Orchids made the NASA clean air approving list. (See previous blog regarding that subject). And they’re exotic! They’re one of my favorites houseplants. I was hooked after purchasing my first Phaleonopsis at least 13 years ago. I must have gotten a plant on steriods. That thing bloomed for over a year straight. It took a short break and bloomed again! That isn’t the necessarily the norm for orchids. I’ve never had another one that has bloomed as long or as much as that first one. But I get enough, regular flowering on most of mine, that I am really rather obsessed with them.
The house where I lived when I brought the first one home was ideal. It was an old farmhouse with lots of large windows, no overhangs and nothing shading the windows. My husband and I tend to keep the temperature low at night, because it saves energy and I sleep pretty hot, anyway. It turns out that orchids like light and a differential between daytime and nighttime temperatures. Add in some consistent fertilizer and regular watering and you’re in business. The two types most adapted to typical house conditions are the Lady Slipper (Paphiopetalum) and Moth Orchid (Phaleonopsis).
Since that first time, I have tried other types. I did well with the Oncidium varieties, which also are often fragrant, until I divided one. Also, I indulged in a Miltassia cross, that has bloomed every other year or so. It is super striking when it does bloom and it has a peppery scent, but it needs more light than I am giving it I think. Plus, I divided it in the last year or so. My favorite edition in the past 5 years, have been the miniature Oncidiums. They bloom faithfully, every December or January and smell like vanilla. We took them to the Mary’s Peak Orchid Society Show and Sale at Garland Nursery last year and paid them to divide them. Even so they bloomed prolifically this winter. They are great windowsill plants in our living room. This year’s show and sale is this Saturday, Feb 2nd. The show is spectacular. If you want to purchase an orchid, I’d recommend showing up at 9, when it starts, as plants sell out early. There will be lots of experts on hand and the repotting service is well worth the price.
My husband is the official waterer in our household. Basically he doesn’t trust me to keep his favorite plants (the Poinsettias) alive, so he waters. Our orchids are in plastic pots which sit inside decorative pots without drain holes. Mitch sets the whole works in the sink and fills the pot with water. He lets it sit there for about 5-10 minutes, then pours the water out and returns them to the windowsill. Sometimes he adds fertilizer. We seem to have the ideal windows for plants and the orchids thrive.
So stop by and see the Mary’s Peak Orchid Society show. There’s lots of other blooming plants at the nursery. We just got in a bunch of Hellebores and Heather. Plus bare root fruit trees and berries, blueberries in pots and some fun ceramic cats. It’s finally starting to look like a nursery again. Yeah! How many days until spring?