Sunday, April 8, 2012

spring: a photo essay

Oncidium hybrid orchid in bloom (a new addition to my collection, this was about to bloom when I bought it so I can't take credit for the bloom, but I hope it will flower again under my care)
Phalaeonopsis about to bloom
Dendrobium 'Aussie's Chip' in bloom (a new addition, bought at the Boston Flower Show)
Meyer lemon in bloom
Kumquat about to bloom
purple basil seedlings
cherry tree in bloom

ferns unfurling within the stone wall behind the house


Fiona said...

Liz, your garden is looking lovely (both indoors and outdoors)! I wish I had your green thumb. My recent foray into plant care involves 2 orchids, both of which are wilting way before their time. Advice?

Elizabeth Knox said...

Thank you Fiona!

What kind of orchids do you have? Humidity is a factor. In the dry air of most apartments/houses, many orchids develop wilty leaves. The phalaeonopsis orchid of mine pictured above with buds about to bloom has particularly ugly, sad-looking leaves. One thing to try is placing the orchids on a tray of pebbles. This also has the advantage of being attractive. You can use pea gravel (sold in bags at garden centers) or even glass pebbles. The idea is to create some surface area for evaporation to occur. Place the orchids on the bed of pebbles, and fill tray with water so pebbles are about 3/4 submerged. Orchids also benefit from being near other plants. A group of plants together creates a more humid micro(very micro)climate within your home.

What kind of medium are your orchids growing in? Orchids, particularly moth orchids (phalaeonopsis), are often potted up for shipping and selling in spaghnum moss. That stuff is great for stabilizing the plants en route, but in your home tends to be either too dry or too wet, and is too tightly packed to allow good air circulation which orchid roots like. Bark chips, or a mix of bark chips, perlite, and some moss, allows more of a time-release moisture-management strategy. Orchid mixes (look for those with larger chunks of bark, not soil-like mixes) are readily available at garden centers or Home Depot/Lowes. The tricky part is gently teasing away most of the old spaghnum moss without hurting the roots too much (a little bit of root-breakage is okay).
How are you watering your orchids? My rule of thumb is to soak them once every two weeks (one week in drier weather) for 10 minutes. Place the orchid in a bowl that is larger/higher than the pot, and water the bowl and the orchid until the water comes nearly all the way up the sides of the pot. Let sit 10 min, drain.
This might sound like a lot of work, but don't fear! Most of the time orchids do best when you leave them be.

booksandcoffee said...

Very pretty!
Can't wait to see it all for myself! Love to you!

Fiona said...

Hi Liz!

Thanks for all the advice! I'm afraid our orchids are way beyond saving at this point, but when I get up the courage to try again (maybe after we move?), I'll refer to this page as my guide. :)

We're moving to Cambridge in mid-May, so I hope to see you soon!