When I worked as a chemist for a well known scientific instrumentation manufacturer. Ok, well known in some circles. Scientific instrumentation is certainly not the rage on 5th Ave in New York or Bourbon St in New Orleans. And it is not what I am writing about in the blog entry. Thank God! I am writing about my journey into the world of orchids. Their wondrous blooms coaxed by the warmth of the summer months and the humidity that they crave. I fell in love with their vibrant beauty, their delicate look, their rare charm. They are the sunshine in my winter. They soak up the sun on those ungodly hot summer days. Those days that cook the brains in your head like a hard boiled egg. Those days wet with water that hangs on the stillness in the dark steamy shade. Those lazy summer days where the orchids capture rays of sunshine that slide down each slick green leaf warming their roots. Rays that are locked safe away until the frozen depths when father winter releases them with his icy key. Glorious blooms warm me. Red as the cherries picked on a summer day, purple and pink as if they stole the rays of July’s setting suns, yellow like the ears of corn piled high on the dinner table in August. They have captured this all for me and warmed my snowy winter home with the golden rays that they stole from the summer sun.
My friends say things like. “green thumb” and “To hard to grow.” They compare my orchids to delicate babies that will wither in their pots if not treated with the utmost care. Well, all I have to say is think again. Anyone can grow an orchid. You do not have to have the menagerie that fills my winter home and office. Just one that with the right amount of water and summer warmth they will bloom for you each winter after the warmth of the summer has retreated to our fading memories.
Taking care of your orchid should be a enjoyable journey. First you find a sunny window to put your orchid in when it is winter. They love sunny rooms with a southern exposure. I don’t give them extra humidity just fill a couple of dishes with water in the room to provide a little extra humidity. While they are in bloom I take them to the sink and drown them in water once a week. I put them back in the window and spritz them with a spray of water once or twice a week. After the blooms die back I trim the stalks down or pluck the dead buds of the cattleyas. I then fertilize them once a month until the weather is warm. I then replace the bark with new orchid bark/soil and put them on a northern wall in the shade outside. They love it there. They can drink in the summer rains and enjoy the humidity on their roots. I spray them down every other day when the days are dry. They are happy.
About August I can see new shoots reaching out from the rubbery foliage. They are ready for the winter. When the temps at night dip down to the 40s I bring them in to their winter home. I water them and fertilize them once or twice after they are brought into the house. They will start to bloom in October and finish in late spring.
I say let the summer sun in your home this winter and buy an orchid. Find a good greenhouse that has healthy specimens and you too can have orchids blooming on these cold winter days.