Orchids, and Other Things Green


I was given a phalenopsis orchid as a birthday present in 1992. It flowered wonderfully for about a month, and then dropped all of its blooms during a particularly cold night. But the plant itself thrived and was soon joined by a pair of maiden-hair ferns who proved to be far more difficult than the orchid. Later, while moving into a new building at work, I bought a pair of orchids for my desk: another phalenopsis and a dendrobium. While the flowers lasted quite a while, the plants were lulled by the dry air and air conditioning into dormancy.

Slowly, my collection grows. At present (1995), I have eight orchids. This breaks down to 4 phalenopsis (white, white and red, pink, and tiny red blooms), 2 dendrobium (deep purple, and red), an oncydium (tiny yellow flowers), and a doritis (tiny greenish, red flecked blooms). Unfortunately, there are other species I want to collect, specifically those with scented blooms, but little space. I've already put up a window shelf and lighting; more plants will have to wait for a larger room. I should probally give two of the smaller phals to someone and find more exotics; but the thought of someone else killing them makes me sick to my stomach.

My plants grant me solace and a feeling of peace. They are my tiny green children, whose tendrils and shoots repay, in delight and fascination, my time and nurturing. We share the same space, and in the darkness, their breath mingles with mine.

My other plants are the maidenhair ferns mentioned above, a sullen gardenia who refuses to bloom for me, and an ivy, whose 3' fronds hang like a jellyfish from my ceiling. It seldom catches anything other than my hair. To survive the winter, I use a single 2' grow lamp and a 2 bulb 3' fixture with a vita-lite full spectrum bulb and a normal lamp. I feed about every two weeks and water roughly once a week.

Jan 20th 1996: the original phal and the doritis have flower spikes, looks like the lamps are doing their job.

Feb 28th 1996: the doritis has 5 flowers, each roughly the size of a quarter, of a light greenish tint, with red flecks about the center. they have a thin, not-unpleasant odor. The phalenopsis has 5 large buds on its spike.

May 11, 1996: the doritis blooms dropped quickly. The phalenopsis has five large flowers and is presently extending its flower spike with 4 more buds.

Dec 14, 1996: the doritis blooms, while short lived, have been plentiful. its flowered 5 or 6 times. the flowers emit their perfume at night, ~4am, and mostly only if the plant has been in full darkness. It is a lovely delicate scent. I suspect these are pollinated by moths. Meanwhile, two of the phals are in bloom, the tiny phal and a dendrobium have spikes. I seem to be unable to make the oncydium sufficiently happy.

Jan 22, 1996: everyone just wants light. the gardenia is budding and the doritis is putting up yet another shoot. I put in water trays after xmas so local humidity should be high.

April 5, 1997: everyone just wants light. the doritis has 4 flower shoots. the tiny phal is dropping its blooms but the pink phal still has a handfull. one of the dendrobium (white) has been flowered for weeks; still waiting on the purple one for a showing. the oncydium after months now has TWO flower spikes, one of which is nearly 2.5 feet long. The gardenia hasn't opened anything but has dozens of big flower buds. I've added two japanese maples, a white rose, and two more orchids -- an encyclia, and something else whose genus I forget. No phallopedium yet but I've been looking at them.


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