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November 29th, 2009:

Orchids

An orchid flowering in my kitchen

An orchid flowering in my kitchen

Doug took this picture last night. I think there’s more than ten buds on the stem. The dragonfly clip is from a previous orchid from M&S. I’ve kept it because I love dragonflies  🙂

I’ve admired orchids for some years but never seemed to have any luck growing them. I’d usually pick them up in Ikea and they’d be budding when purchased but after they’d flowered I’d just be left with some leaves. They’d soon either dry out or go a bit moldy through overwatering. A friend said that her mother recommended only watering them with lukewarm water but that didn’t seem to help either. I even bought orchid food but again that didn’t seem to help. I gave up on them and would throw the plants out once they’d ceased flowering. I kept buying them because the flowers are so lovely.

Then one day I visited the library at work. One of the window sills was filled with orchid plants. I asked after them and was told “Oh, that’s Liz’s orchid hospital.” Liz wasn’t around but apparently people would bring in their half dead orchids and she’d nurse them back to life. The prescription sounded simple – indirect sunlight and occasionally a little water. I could see that the roots looked sort of crystalline unlike the dead straws of root some of mine were sporting.  So while at home I moved my couple of orchid plants to the side windowsill of my kitchen and gave them a little water. And then just left them. I didn’t water them again for about a fortnight and fed them once a month or so.  I can’t remember how long it took now, but new stems began to grow and on those stems were buds. And so that’s how it’s been. I neglect them mostly. Give them a bit of water and food and the new stems and buds keep coming.