In the middle of life's challenges, fresh flowers have always boosted my spirits. When those flowers are still on the plant, even better!
Last fall, a master gardener friend offered some of her orchids for sale as a fundraiser for our local chapter. Sight unseen, I put in my bid. Harriet is a wonderful gardener and if she had orchids, I knew it would be fun to have a start.
We waited until the last possible day for the hand-off, the day before our first winter storm was moving in. Besides two Australian orchids in large pots, she handed me one orchid in a small 4-inch clay pot. It's a dendrobium, she said, from Burma, her home country.
Once home, I tucked the orchids in my basement away from direct light. They were in the same southwest window as other re-blooming orchids so I left them there as I tried to identify if Burma had a signature orchid. When I looked up the orchids from Burma, I was delighted with the variety and possibilities, there really is something amazing about flowers that feel like a soft plastic but look so delicate.
No point in trying to guess what kind of flowers would be blooming so I settled for being pleasantly surprised. No, I wasn't going to ask Harriet, that would spoil the surprise!
Orchid Flowers from Burma
As I was watering my orchids this morning, Harriet's orchid caught my attention. Actually a flower had appeared, and then I saw a second bud. Dendrobium nobile Is "one of the most beautiful epiphyte or lithophytes dendrobium species found from the Chinese Himalayas, Assam, eastern Himalayas, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam that is found in tropical evergreen forest and primary mountain forest at an elevations of 200 to 2000 meters," according to Bhaskar Bora. Bora notes in his biography that he is an Indian businessman who likes to collect orchids as a hobby.
I do as well. I have a little collection of phalaenopsis or moth orchids I have adopted over the years. One of the easiest orchids to grow, moth orchids are also a popular gift flower. I buy them after they have finished blooming and give them some "tender loving care" until they're ready to bloom again. It can take almost a year to get them blooming again so it is a labor of love. There is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when I see the new growth and know I helped coax it into flowering again.
I was so excited about seeing Harriet's orchid bloom, I bought it a little special container to set it in and moved it to my den coffee table so I could enjoy it when I was sitting nearby.
Tip for Growing Orchids
Clay pots are fine. Actually clay pots are preferred for orchids because they wick away extra moisture that can easily rot roots. When we grew up in Brazil, I remember cattleya orchids that covered our backyard trees. My father watered them with a hose to get them hydrated but not too wet. The water easily fell off the large orchids clinging to tree bark.
Taking those memories, and experience, as a clue, I carefully checked the orchid roots every week and made sure I wasn't over-watering. When temperatures hit record lows a few weeks back, I moved the orchids up to my dining room. That was helpful when I lost heat for a couple of days, not sure they would have survived sitting on cold basement concrete.
Most orchids like indirect light, much as African violets and Chocolate Soldiers do. Besides periodically checking for bugs, that's all that you need to do with orchids. I do add a pinch of fertilizer to rain water once a month, and keep them away from heat and drafts. Short of that, there is little more than one needs to do.
Considering what we had just been through without heat, and it still flowered, I decided to get the orchid a decorative container. This little metal florist vase caught my eye for a simple whimsical reason, it has feet.
I picked the previously-owned container for $2 at our local thrift shop called The Community Partnership Resale Shop. The sale of donated items funds a non-profit that helps families with special need children so I shop there first when I'm looking for unusual pieces. My rule is I have to take a box to donate before I can bring a new box home but I waived that rule for this special occasion.
It didn't take me long to find this flower container, it was sitting on a corner of the store shelves as if it was waiting for me. I think Harriet would approve, don't you?