Monday, February 13, 2006

If you want to learn the meaning of patience, buy an Orchid

Once upon a time - May 2004 to be precise, my thoughtful and charming husband purchased an orchid for mothers day for his lovely wife. This was completely my own cockamamie scheme. For some reason, I was up for the exotic orchid challenge. I love houseplants. I have no less than 20, which are in various stages of growth and neglect. People say I have a green thumb. I just know when to water them - houseplants are amazingly forgiving. Give them water and sunshine and they will grow with little complaint. For some reason, I decided I needed advanced indoor gardening practice and desired to conquer the exquisite orchid. Nothing too rare, just a standard fare Phalaenopsis - which is what is often sold at local floral shoppes. Thus begins ones initiation with the Orchid, it's not too finicky or fussy- A beginners bloom.

So I proudly displayed my orchid and eventually the blooms whithered and fell. An orchid is an unusual flower, because it does not grow in a soil. In the wild, it attaches to the roots or trunk of grand amazonian jungle trees. The household orchid is planted in something that looks like bark mulch.

I quickly learned that my orchid was getting all the wrong something...the leaves were rotting and falling off, they were getting soft and brownish. After some emergency research, I learned that it was not getting the proper light, along with some overzealous watering. Eventually I changed the bark, and realized that my inexperience resulted in a serious case of root rot.

The orchid was tenderly reposited in my kitchen nursery. I place plants on the sill near my sink - these are plants that need the more TLC, and because of their strategic location, get the most attention. For almost 2 years, I watered my orchid once a week, and sprayed the leaves and top roots every day. Every day. For 2 years. The first thing I noticed, about 2 months into the orchid rescue mission was that it developed a root! Then a leaf! Then another root! Then another leaf! I dilagently continued to spray it every day.

Then one day, sometime around Christmas (2005) a new growth appeared. Could it be? Could it really be? A flower spike?! I offered it some fertilizer and continues to watch. For 2 months I have observed this flower spike grow longer and longer and then it developed three buds. I watched for week after week as these buds grew more rotund and plump...until last night. The succulent edges of petals uncurled. I have been anticipating this event for 2 years.
Here is a picture of my orchid last night. Notice that it started to bloom in the middle of a snow storm...
I wondered, given how long I watched the flower spike develop, and how long the buds developed - how long it would take the flower to open up.


hotboy said...

Aw, that's a very nice flower. Congratulations! My partner has our place like a jungle, one you can't hack your way through! Hotboy

MC Etcher said...

Beautiful! You put a lot of work into it, I'm glad it paid off!

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Congratulations. That took a lot of patience and TLC: even babies only gestate for nine months.

hotboy said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog today! Did cheer me up! Hotboy

Juggling Mother said...

Well done. And now you know why they are so expensive:-)

I don't do houseplants at all - it seems unfair somehow as they all die within a week of living with me! But the kids are currently growing some crocuses (crocii?) which are doing ok - maybe we'll progress to busy lizzies next.