As gardeners go, I’m not the type to fuss around with plants that are going to take an inordinate amount of my time, and a lot of tender loving care. Living in Southern California with our mild year ’round weather, I have had ample selections to make in the landscaping of my yard.
I started to purchase some plant materials through the mail order catalogs and decided to try the beautiful and exotic Orchid. When the two Orchid plants arrived, they were small but healthy. I didn’t know much about Orchids and followed the planting instructions they came with.
I learned that you don’t plant them in the typical soil, instead you take a pot and layer it alternating between bark chips and sphagnum moss. When I placed the two Orchids into the pot, they really had nothing to anchor their roots onto. What I did was to place the chips and moss around them, so at least they didn’t fall out of the pot or lean over too far. Ok, so far so good. I watered them and read up on them.
After approximately eight months of watering, sunning them in the window sill, with just the right amount of daylight and correct temperature, wating to see the long blossoms of their first bloom, I was still waiting. In fact one of the Orchids was shrinking and didn’t look like it was going to make it a whole year. It didn’t, as it turned black and died. I had to throw it out. I don’t know what made me keep its mate. Wishful thinking, perhaps.
I knew the planting medium was right, I was watering and not letting the roots get over-soaked, and as far as ferterlizing the Orchid I had read that you don’t want to over feed them either. I started to think they certainly deserved their delicate and fussy reputation.
But providence was to smile upon me, when one day my teenage son brought home two very pretty bottles that he had bought for their fruit juice contents, and I thought the oriental look of them would be pretty sitting next to my healthy bonsai tree purchased at the same time as the Orchids.
Being a practicle person, I wanted the bottles to fulfill some duty besides just looking pretty. So I filled one with tap water, and thought, ‘great that will make it easier to water the Orchid and the bonsai tree.’ And that’s what I did.
I would let the water sit until I needed to water, then refill the bottle again and let it sit. Very useful, very pretty, when I noticed that my Orchid was actually growing. It had never done this before.
I thought that is strange, I wonder if it’s the weather or the time of the season. But I had this plant now for over a year, and it had just sat there, doing nothing much, but hanging in there. It dawned on me, it must be the water.
My Orchid is now triple in size from what it was just a few months ago and has roots that I can see, white healthy, and thriving roots. It also branched off the more sickly portion of the Orchid although that part of it also is growing and rejuvenating.
I believe the secret that fell into my lap was Orchids don’t like chlorine in their water, and by letting the water sit a few days allows the chlorine to evaporate. In essence, the water is distilled and the Orchid is thriving because of it.
I’m sure there is still much for me to learn with regard to Orchids. There are literally over one hundred thousand varieties of Orchids. Some Orchids, I have learned, can live over 20 years.
I’m happy that mine survived its first year with me, and I’m looking forward now with realistic expectations that I might actually see it bloom one day.