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Amateur orchiding

I know I technically just made up a word (orchiding), but it’s my way of describing my everlasting love for phalaenopsis orchid plants. 😍 I currently own 8 orchids and they’re all mini-sized. I would love big regular sized orchid with large blooms but I just have nowhere to put such a large potted plant on one of my room desks, unless I were to designate a spot by throwing away some belongings. That’s why I tend to buy the mini ones as they take up less space and it’s easier to pick sitting areas for them.

One of my newer orchids in full bloom. Many of her buds were not yet open at the time I took her home with me.

In the past, I ended up unintentionally killing two orchids. It’s embarrassing to recall all the mistakes I made. I think I am still learning the more I care for my orchids.

My latest baby. Usually the buds start opening within days of purchase, though I guess this little lady is not ready yet.

One unfortunate mistake I made repeatedly was watering the plants directly after bringing them home from the store without checking their roots first to determine if they already had enough moisture. Overhydration of the roots causes root rot, which is an apt term for when the roots start to turn mushy and black. An orchid without a healthy root system is not a happy orchid. Just because it has flowers does not mean it’s not stressed.

The grayish hue of the roots indicates it is dry and needs a watering soon. They turn a vibrant green when moist. Note the light green roots, which are new roots coming in.

Another repeated error I didn’t realize I kept making was raising the water level too high during plant watering days and cause the base of the orchid crown to also be dipped in it. This caused the crown to begin rotting, and you orchid enthusiasts out there know when the crown dies, the plant is doomed.

I’ve managed to revive two of my orchids from the brink of death by the method of full water culture, though they’ve not gotten back to 100% full strength yet. I honestly had doubts earlier this year when I was reading about the technique but I knew I had to do something since my orchids did not appear to be doing well in their sphagnum moss, perlite, charcoal, and bark mixture. I remember starting off by taking the orchids from their potting mixture and letting their roots air dry for a few days. I got a bunch of those cheap plastic clear cups from the dollar store and filled up two with some water at the bottom, just enough so by putting the orchid roots in it, they would be getting hydrated all the time. I didn’t document everything closely but it was estimated to be around springtime 2018 I did all this.

She has roots but isn’t out of the woods yet. The green root in the water was actually way longer but in the last month, it rotted so I had to cut it off. 😔

I was honestly expecting nothing to happen after a whole winter of dormancy when the orchids were still in the potting mix. Maybe it was the right time because of the warming temperature and more sunshine combined with the effectiveness of water culture, I don’t know. But it worked. It wasn’t like an overnight miracle, of course, the orchids needed time to adjust to the changes. Sure enough, they sprouted new roots. At the start of the water culture transition, both orchids only had one or two viable green roots. It was an exciting time to watch the shoots get longer every day. During the summer I tried to be careful not to expose them to too much sun. Their window spot had no coverage unless I pulled the curtains out.

The light greenish tips of the roots indicate new growth. I am surprised she is still growing in winter.

I am not sure when these two orchids will ever flower again. It may be another year before their root systems are strong enough to allow them to grow flower stalks. A less patient person might have chucked these orchids into the trash a long time ago because they wouldn’t flower but I am proud that I could help breathe new life into plants that were almost on their last legs. I think I am only good at rearing orchids, though, since I’ve attempted to raise succulents and even a moon cactus but never successfully.

9 thoughts on “Amateur orchiding

  1. Thank you for this! I didn’t know that about the root color and watering. You’ve reinvigorated my desire to keep orchids. My last one died when I left for vacation and turned the house AC off in the peak of summer. 🤦🏼‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a nice project. I also heard that orchids are really hard to take care of. My mom likes them but kills them all the time, so it’s all a learning process 🙂 the pictures are beautiful by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, it takes some time to get used to caring for orchids with different issues. I have yet to try adding fertilizer to an orchid to encourage more root growth. I’m really scared I’ll do something wrong and cause the existing roots to die. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s such a good practice in care, patience, and knowing thyself (I felt like that was appropriate to use here lolol). Ah, yeah, roots seem sensitive >< but I guess better to try it now than later when you're really immersed or feeling close to the orchid? Watch all the YT videos!


    1. I’ve seen some marketed in stores as “easy to care for” (as in that is what it actually said on the price tag) but it was only after so much trial and error that I know they can be fussy plants.

      Liked by 1 person

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