Raising orchids, or not killing two of them

After more than a year, three perfect blooms!

It’s more satisfying to be surrounded by flowers than to be surrounded by a roomful of expensive things. Flowers give back in ways that tug at your heart and bring a smile to your face. Expensive things will only mirror the money you could have saved instead.

Orchids are among the flowers that melt my heart. I’ve always loved them from afar and admired them at florist shops but never bought any. They are inspiring to look at; I’ve even painted them. They’re also quite expensive and rumor always has it, they are very difficult to maintain and keep happy.
A year ago, near Christmas time, Home Depot was selling a few orchids that were practically dead for only $4. That’s very cheap for an orchid. Since they were on their death-bed anyway, I felt confident that it could only go uphill. So I bought two.
Neither had any flowers, just their naked stems. I had no idea what they would look like! I also didn’t have the first clue about orchid care. They live in small wood chips, not dirt. They don’t really have roots and according to their tag, they only eat two ice cubes a week. So I started quizzing people who were buying orchids about how they keep theirs alive and also googled variations of “orchid care” until I felt a bit more confident.
Generally I kill house plants. This fact concerned me about venturing into orchid rearing. I closely followed the directions I found: I trimmed them just above their nodes (encourages more flowers), watered them with special orchid food (they like acidic food) and put them near a window – but not direct sun, they don’t like that. I felt weird feeding them ice cubes, but did anyway. I watched and observed them and nothing happened. But their long leaves stayed healthy and a darkish green, so in spite of occasionally forgetting to water them, they were happy! Then finally, one started to bud!
They were relocated to a south-facing window sill and watched like a hawk. I became very concerned with consistently watering them because there were buds! After a YEAR they were FINALLY starting to bud! I couldn’t wait to see what color they would be! About a week ago before work (that’s the first of their daily scrutiny) one bud looked quite poofy so I knew that it was only a matter of time. After work (the second time) I went and checked on it and it had bloomed!!! I was very excited. This little guy took more than a year to produce a perfect white bloom with a touch of buttery yellow. Now there are three blooms and several other buds.
As for my other orchid, he was in worse shape when I bought him. The stems were completely dried up and dead so I had to cut them at the base (I think that was the thing to do). Progress with that one is steady though, there are quite a few new stems starting to shoot upwards. I will remain patient for him.
Things I’ve learned about raising orchids is they’re not nearly as difficult as I thought they would be. I no longer water them with ice cubes. They also like to have a fan on them at night, lucky for them, so do I. They require their caregiver to possess a good deal of patience because these little blooms take at least six months to bloom again. I think if they hadn’t been practically dead when I rescued them, they would have bloomed sooner. Next time!
Interesting: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/09/orchids/pollan-text would you consider orchids to be deceptive to get what they want or “nature’s version of the inflatable love doll?”

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