Saturday, June 7, 2008

Orchids Orchids Orchids!

Daughter Jennifer sent me a picture of the tiny phalaenopsis I gave her for her birthday in March. She is an orchid lover/grower too and recently added some beautiful orchids to her collection in San Francisco.

My obsession began when I was in Hawaii 18-20 years ago. I brought a little dendrobium home with me to Michigan and set it on the window sill in my kitchen. I have a picture of the blooms somewhere in my picture box. One side of the kitchen window is bright with snow and on the inside I have this little tropical oasis with pretty little purple and white flowers on it. It thrived, and grew and bloomed each year. I brought it to Florida with me, put it in a hanging basket under the oak tree out back and the first year I had 14 sprays of flowers on it! The next year it was deader than a doornail. The famous No Name Storm aka March storm came through unannounced and surprised everyone on the coast with flooding and icy salt spray that blew far enough inland that it killed my poor orchid.

At some point I brought a replacement home, and then another and another.... 85 orchids later I have a beautiful collection. At any given moment, winter months included, I have from 12 to 25 or more orchids in bloom. They are surprisingly easy to grow and I keep them outside in the extension we added to the patio just for them. I have many different varieties. Some are so small you need a magnifying glass to see the flowers. I've shared offspring with family and friends over the years, and now both of my sissy's are adding to their collections.

Any time I'm on the road and I see an "orchids for sale" sign my car careens off in that direction and I turn into one of those people who look like they are taking their house plants out for a ride. You've seen them. Usually a blue Pinto with a potted palm in the back seat.

My favorite shopping places are for mail orders and gifts, Louis DelFavio Orchids in Tampa - over by the Citrus Mall and Art Stone over near Tyrone Mall. The mister used to roll his eyes when I'd bring in a new plant, but now he goes to Louis' with me, and chooses one or two of his own. It's catchy. He also built my beautiful orchid tables for the patio.

Lowes, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, you name it, they all sell orchids now. Those are not necessarily as well cared for at the stores as dealer orchids are, but as long as the roots look healthy, and the plant doesnt look dried up it's a done deal. My sissy Janet called the other day with the name of a miniature hybrid she found (was it at Home Depot, sissy?) I'd not even heard of one of the parent orchids of the hybrid. It appears they are moving away from selling mostly phalaenopsis and dendrobium. Janet was the third person to call me for orchid advice that day! It was nice getting the calls (hermit wanna be or not) from her, my sissy Mary and daughty Jennifer for my """"expert advice""""". My advice comes from experience and losing several orchids along the way and moving them around for more or less sun, watering more or less, and feeding whenever the mood strikes me. I also have a couple of good Orchid books for reference. I bring them all in the house if we are expecting a freeze or a hurricane. Then I've got some of those little lizards (anoles) running around the house for weeks afterwards. Some of them turn into little mummies if I can't catch them and put them back outside.

If you feel like you need an orchid, don't be intimidated by it - just go get one. Ask the expert how to take care of it or look the orchid up on line for directions, and enjoy. Many only bloom once a year, but others bloom often and still others seem to be in bloom all the time. Most are unscented, but I have several scented varieties that smell like cocoanut, berries, chocolate, and cinnamon. Some are scented only at night and some just during the day. That depends on what insect or bird specializes in polinating them in the wild. The night scented are pollinated by nocturnal moths so they don't waste their time trying to be extra pretty during the day . Cool.

'Scuse me. My dog was barking for some assistance. I thought she left one of her chewie toys outside. Turns out she wanted water - from her outside dish. We passed two inside dishes to get to the patio. Don't ask. That's just the way things work around here. If I didn't know better I'd say the Mister put her up to it because he couldn't think up a question.

No comments: