Lessons from my Orchid

Getting to the root of the problem: Are you too preoccupied with ugly roots to enjoy the beauty of the flower?

In January 2016 a Whole Foods opened near me, so I had to check it out. I had heard how expensive they were, but I also had heard how unique and beautiful the store was. I didn’t plan on buying anything, but you never know. It was a madhouse that day and I would have left empty-handed except for the orchids. Their grand-opening special was a beautiful potted Phalaenopsis orchid for $10.

I displayed it on my bathroom counter where it was very happy enjoying the morning sun. (Plant tip #1 – find a happy place for your plant and it will thank you.) The flowers greeted me every morning and they lasted a long time, much longer than any $10 bouquet I could have purchased. That’s my outlook on potted plants – if they give me at least a season of return and they never really thrive or bloom again, then that’s okay with me. It wasn’t a bad investment.

But this little guy is the little orchid that would and could and did. Here’s a picture of it today. It has looked like this for over a month. This is its third re-bloom and first double shoot. That’s amazing to me.

I like to look at this orchid face. It’s so cheery.

This weird root system supports the lovely plant.

A lesson from this beauty is that you can’t judge a plant by its root system. Its roots are messy and visible and they look like they need attention – not unlike myself after four weeks out from the hairdresser. Since I see this plant every day that it’s blooming, I really hardly notice the roots. I just look at the beautiful flowers. That is until I came home one day and discovered that a friend saw my plant and thought she would water it for me because the roots looked so dry. I tried to be nonchalant about this and told her that I had actually watered it that very morning. She couldn’t believe it and felt horrible. I told her no worries. I set it outside to help dry it out a little and reminded myself that, hey, it’s just a $10 plant.

Once a week I set this orchid in a couple of inches of water for 5 minutes – never watering it from the top. That’s it. Five minutes a week and this is what you get. Not only that, when the blooms fall off, I cut it back below a juicy knuckle (as my orchid-growing friend calls it) and set it outside in its outdoor happy place (remember I live in Florida), which gets some sun but not too much. I ignore it until it puts out another shoot. This has worked over the last three years. Nobody is more surprised than I am.

I’m sure I would have killed this by now if I tried to replant it to make those roots less conspicuous. The roots are part of its beauty. They’re weird-looking and provide a great contrast to the delicate-looking orchid. I have cut back some dead ones before (they look brown and papery), but that’s it.

I know you may be expecting some kind of humor here, but the funny thing is that people look at me as some kind of an orchid expert when the truth is I just ask questions, read labels, and moved the plant around until I found its happy place. Plants have them just like people do.

 

This is Post #6 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

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8 Comments

  1. Love it! Your orchid seems to like you back! The blooms are smiling.

    Reply
  2. “Alien creature sprouts Orchids, at 11.”

    I keep telling my wife I’ll bloom someday, but for now, just weird.

    Reply
  3. When I was in Palm Beach County this past January, I saw orchids on trees outside for the first time. In winter! I’ve brown them indoors for some years and you have found the secret of orchids and all plants – If you find their happy place they will reward you so greatly. Come April 15, I, hopefully, will be posting a picture of my reblooming orchid on my blog. They are beautiful plants to own.

    Reply
  4. How beautiful! I don’t recall ever having one bloom more than once. A green thumb, I have not!

    Reply
    • I thought it would never happen until I complimented my friend’s orchid and she gave me some tips. I do have a bit of a green thumb though, but I had help developing it.

      Reply

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