I’m addicted to orchids — but not the unpredictability of when - or if - they’ll rebloom.
I was lucky that two of my first phalaenopsis plants were overachievers. When the last wilted petal dropped, I cut down the stem. Within weeks, a new tiny green stem pokes out of the bark, a sight as thrilling as the tip of a spring tulip emerging in the garden. Each day the slender stem grows longer and eventually little buds appear. And when they finally open, orchid flowers are lovely, elegant -- and perfect.
Over the last decade, orchids have gone from pricey, exotic plants to only $19.99 at Home Depot. They’ve become so mainstream that every Parade of Homes displays one on the coffee table.
I have a collection of phalaenopsis or “moth orchid” named for its moth-like arching sprays of flowers. I’m in love with their otherworldly color palette of buttery yellows, creamy whites and hot pinks. Moth orchids are one of the most popular varieties and considered the easiest to grow.
But my most recent purchase — from a reputable garden center — is a slacker. I’ve been waiting forever for the barren plant to push out a miraculous stem, which will produce new flowers. The fleshy foliage is a deep, healthy green. What am I doing wrong?
I visited several orchid care websites for help. (I didn’t use Orchid Society of Minnesota because the website requires a membership fee before you can access resources).
LIGHT: Do not place in direct sunlight. East or west-facing window is best. Check.
TEMPERATURE: Orchids thrive best when the temperature drops at night, usually about 10 to 15 degrees. Check. This is easy to do in Minnesota.
WATER: Once a week is sufficient to keep your plant healthy and happy. Check.
FERTILIZE: One teaspoon per gallon of water once a month. Check.
HUMIDITY: Phalaenopsis like moist air. Set the pots on a tray of pebbles filled with water; make sure the pots aren’t sitting in water. I think I'll try this.
REBLOOM: When the last flower drops, cut the flower spike halfway down the stem. Continue to care for it and wait for it to rebloom.
I’m still waiting.
Have you had good luck with your orchids? What do you think of the waiting game and if you're lucky - the big payoff?