Hobbyists who now find themselves housebound have an opportunity to whip their orchid collection into shape like never before. Somewhere between the Victory Garden being planted and the flower beds being mulched, there is a sizable wedge of time that can be set aside for the “great move” in which indoor orchids are relocated outside. Tropical plants, after all, are happiest when they are exposed to nature’s breezes, humidity, and warmth. The “great move” can’t officially begin until night temperatures are at least in the mid 50’s which for most of us are in a month or so.
Consumers may have noticed some unusual offerings in Phalaenopsis lately. The traditional ‘moth’ orchids with their signature cascading blooms look different somehow. The size, shape, and color of each flower are the same but the overall appearance requires a second or even third look.
What is difficult to comprehend initially is that the flower stems turn in a way that is not normal. Each is attached to a piece of angled wire and is pointing downward or to the side. The designs have clever names and command a premium price.
Six degrees of separation refers to the notion that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. Imagine if only two degrees separated you from someone very famous, in other words, an A-List celebrity is “a friend of a friend.” We experienced this situation in 2009 when a walk-in client informed us that she worked extensively with Priscilla Presley.
A few weeks ago, I visited one of the largest Phalaenopsis growers in central Florida, DeLeon’s Bromeliads. The nursery has been there for decades and workers were frantically packing orders. It was peak season and the colorful blooms seemed to go on for miles.
A large sign on the property read, “Closing soon. Everything must go.” I went into the sales office to get an explanation. Imagine my surprise when the manager informed me that DeLeon’s was getting out of the orchid business and going into marijuana.
“This terrarium contains a petite yellow Oncidium and a multi-floral Phalaenopsis, a small ivy, a thick bed of living moss, and several sprigs of curly willow. The base uses a layer of river rock, sphagnum moss, and potting soil to help hydrate the greenery.” Photo Credit – Arthur Chadwick
The introduction of Phalaenopsis in grocery stores about a decade ago brought the orchid hobby to millions of Americans who might never have gotten involved. Many plants were sold with limited or incorrect growing instructions, however, and owners were left to experiment. Most Phals survived, but reblooming has been hit or miss.
Orchid breeders have an eye for selecting stud plants that impart desirable flower qualities onto the offspring. Common traits include vibrant color, round shape, and being floriferous. There is one type of Phalaenopsis, however, that is made using entirely different criteria.
What do rock stars do when they are not on tour? They grow plants, of course.
Ask ten successful growers how they care for their orchids and you will get ten different answers. One technique that everyone can agree on, however, is how to bloom their phalaenopsis.
Surprisingly, the average consumer is not generally aware of this ‘secret.’ Plant care tags describe the culture necessary to keep the plant alive but often fail to mention what is required for re-blooming. Maybe that’s because marketers don’t want their clients to know this critical information – preferring, instead, to sell them more plants next year.
I received a Cattleya orchid in the mail that was supposed to be in bud or bloom and there is nothing but leaves! Where are the flowers?! What can be done? Ronald S.
Shipping orchids in the mail is a little tricky. It requires some clever packing techniques and considerable knowledge of botany to be successful. In addition, the shipping company and the weather both have to cooperate.