Sunday, October 21

A nice welcome back

We've spent a few days away in North Yorkshire. Before we set off there was one plant that was causing me some concern. Would it survive a few days neglect?

For several years now I have been trying to get an orchid to flower again. The story generally goes - buy beautiful orchid - orchid flowers for quite a long time - flowers die - leaves may drop off or at best stay green with no sign of another flower ... EVER.

I have photos of the orchids that I have bought going back to 2004 but none have ever flowered again but I've kept trying with decreasing enthusiasm. Then this year I decided I would make a really concerted effort to try again.

I've two orchids at the moment - I think they're both phalaenopsis- one that I bought about three years ago that hasn't flowered again ... 
... and another that my sister bought for me last Christmas. 

I've read all sorts of advice on how to get orchids to bloom again, some contradictory, so I decided to do my own thing by following my instincts and a few known facts. Both plants have been given the full treatment by which I mean they have been placed in an upstairs room in a East facing window (shaded by the magnolia tree in summer but very light in winter) and misted with a fine water spray daily. Other than that they have been given very little water. When I have watered them I have just held the pot under a running tap and let the water run through the bark compost. I've also avoided popping the clear plastic pot into a planter as I would normally do as apparently the roots need to be exposed to light as this helps the plant with photosynthesis (making food). 

If you have ever grown orchids, you will know that they keep sending out air roots that for a while trick you into thinking they are sending up a flower stem. The air roots need to be left to grow and are misted along with the leaves. I haven't tried tucking them into a pot or trying to hide them just let them do what they want to do.

A few weeks ago I noticed that one of the orchids was sending up something that looked very different to the start of an air root and so I watched carefully full of anticipation. My reward was a developing flower stem which on 8 October looked like this.

I anxiously watched as the buds began to swell. Would the buds just give up and drop off. Happily, no, they just kept on swelling until, as shown in the photos below, this was how the plant looked before we left for our short break.

The buds were just beginning to unfurl (the photo quality isn't brilliant but, sorry I'm not risking taking it out into full daylight in order to take a better photo). On the 15 October just before we left I took the photo above. By this time I had brought the plant downstairs and sat it in a tray of pebbles. This was more to try and stop it tipping over than anything else. I also wet the pebbles to try and maintain a level of moisture whilst we were away.

We have come back to this...
... one flower is completely open and other buds are swelling. So I'm claiming that as a result! I don't know whether the plant has flowered again because of or in spite of my attentions but I don't really care. Now I just want to get the other plant into flower so I'm employing one of the best helpers a gardener can use - I'm crossing my fingers and hoping!

11 comments:

  1. I really like the white one, my two are a similar colour to the one you have flowering. I don't have any problems at all getting mine to flower again, I've had both about four years and they take no looking after. Once the flowers have died I cut the flower spike off completely. I water them once a week, and don't mist at all. To water, I fill a jug with water and let it stand overnight. The next day I pour it over the roots, allowing it to run right through so that no water is left behind. Once I cut a flower stalk off, it isn't long before another starts to grow. I've noticed orchid plant food for sale, but I've never fed mine at all. Hope you get many years out of the plant now that you've got it flowering again, they're gorgeous flowers.

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    1. You must be an expert, Jo. I fed mine once with those things that you poke in the compost and allow to drip through but I've since read they don't really need it - well some say you do and others not! I have noticed that the compost in the non-flowering one is different - it's more mossy than bark like in the purple one. Which compost do you have. What type of temperature is your's in?

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  2. I'm reading this very carefully, because we have two orchid plants that Jane was given as a Mother's Day present. They were in full flower when she got them, but now they just have leaves. Jane is not keen on gardening so it has devolved upon me to be in charge of them now since they are officially "Plants" now, as opposed to "Flowers"! I'll be trying to get them to flower again, of course.

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    1. Some advice is for benign neglect, Mark and to make sure they have a resting period with slightly cooler temperatures. Must admit I haven't followed this advice but may do to try and get the other orchid to flower. It's in a more mossy compost so I may repot into bark to see whether that helps.

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  3. I'm certainly no expert, Sue. All my successes are down to pure luck. Both of mine have a bark type compost, and like yours, they're in a clear pot which I don't put inside another. I keep mine on the windowsill in my room, so it's a warm environment, but it doesn't get any direct sunlight. I've also noticed that both of mine tend to flower at the same time, they've both just put up a new flower spike which are just getting buds on them.

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  4. Congratulations they are stunning.

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    1. The white one still has to flower again Liz but I'm working on it - I'll let you know if I succeed!

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  5. A fertilizer just for Orchids has worked well for me. I pretty well do what you do Sue, but they do enjoy that fertilizer. Good luck. Great photos...beautiful.

    ps...also no expert..just what has worked for me.

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    1. Experts seem to contradict one another, Bren. As you say it's best to do what works for you. With gardening in general we often break the rules and have success. Plants are a bit like people - contrary!

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  6. Your orchid looks beautiful. I have been told (not that i know personally as i am terrible for killing house plants!) that orchids don't need too much attention or care. My friend who had one gave it a sprinkling of water once a week and apart from that left it to it's own devices and it has continually sent out new shoots and blossomed over and over again for over a year now. Incidentally it is in an east facing room so maybe that really does help as well. Good luck with the other one. I will keep my fingers crossed for you too!!

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    1. Thanks, Tanya A photo will be taken if the other one flowers.

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