An Alameda Garden: I'm Not an Orchid Killer!

Friday, March 05, 2010

I'm Not an Orchid Killer!

As much as I enjoyed the Pacific Orchid Expo last weekend, I came home from the show empty-handed for the simple reason that I made a vow a while back to not purchase any more orchids. I think orchids are gorgeous flowers and fascinating plants in their seemingly infinite variety. But I have a bad history with them. I've been given or purchased a number of orchids (mostly phalaenopsis) only to see that after the flower spike faded, the plant never rebloomed and eventually died a slow death. I was careful not to overwater, tried to give it the right light and some kind of humidity--it didn't matter. They just kept dying on me.

But a couple years ago at the SF Flower & Garden Show I bought a mystery cymbidium orchid plant. The seller had a box of them that had lost their tags and were not in bloom so there was no way to tell what color they would be. But for only $10 or $15 it was worth a try. The main appeal was that cymbidium orchids can grow outdoors year-round in this area and I've known people who have found them to be very low-maintenance plants. My grandmother used to grow them in her back yard and all she ever did was throw her used coffee grounds around the base of the plants. They bloomed like mad.

So this mystery cymbidium has been in a pot of orchid bark on my deck for the past couple years, and while I didn't kill it, I still hadn't gotten it to bloom. But lo and behold, the mystery is about to be solved. Today I looked out my kitchen window and noticed an unusual shape popping up from the orchid pot:

I can't wait to see what they look like! But even more exciting than seeing what the flower will look like, is knowing that I am redeemed (at least a little bit) as an orchid grower. I'm no longer an orchid killer, which means there can now be more orchids in my future!

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  1. I love that feeling of triumph upon seeing stems and buds! However, I will freely admit that I am an orchid killer. Serial. I'll just admire yours from afar.

  2. Well maybe it's all the humidity this year. They love a tropical climate and that we have this winter.
    Can't wait to see what the flower looks like.

  3. Well, I hope you'll give tips to those of us that are still stuck in that morass that is Orchid Slayers Anonymous. I have no hope of getting out, so suggestions of tolerant species are always apprecitated. Thanks!

    Christine, killing orchids in Alaska


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