Get This, Not That!

I’m a fan of orchids as houseplants and I keep several of the varieties that are well adapted to household conditions.  One of these is the South American orchid, ondontoglossum/oncidium.              
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This orchid has an interesting habit.  The wrinkled, oval things at the base of the stems store water.  Although orchids suitable for homes are generally tough plants, one of the quickest way to kill one is by overwatering.  This visual reminder, (the more wrinkled, the drier the plant is) helps prevent overwatering.  photoThis orchid has been sending up a bloom stalk which will eventually hold up to fifty maroon and yellow speckled blooms. These blooms will last for many weeks, sometimes even a few months.  Unlike the extremely short-lived and overly-perfumed bulb pots showing up at the garden and grocery stores these days, an orchid like this is a real bargain!  Most of them will rebloom for many years with only an occasional application of fertilizer and they don’t need or like to be repotted often.

Don’t be intimidated by their exotic looks. An orchid’s growing requirements are flexible and far easier to fulfill than an overpriced bowl of spring bulbs that needs to be kept at 55  degrees.

Most orchids prefer indirect light and normal household temperatures.

My orchids are all below a north-facing window and are doing well. I water only when they feel really dry and fertilize lightly (1/2 the recommended amount on the orchid fertilizer bottle). In return, these plants send up long-lasting sprays of flowers with exotic butterfly shapes, have no overpowering scents, and live for many years.

An added bonus, for me at least, is that orchids aren’t particularly attractive to cats.  My cats never give them more than a passing glance, whereas fresh bulb foliage is relentlessly pursued and shredded.

I’ve had success with inexpensive orchids from unlikely places such as grocery stores or even Hom Depot.  You don’t need to make a special trip to the garden center to get a good one.(Unless, like me, you love going to the garden center, then of course you can use this errand as a excuse.)

So if you’re looking for something to brighten a corner of your desk or dining room, please consider an orchid. You won’t be sorry!

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