Thursday, June 9, 2011

Orchids for the Masses.

I do not know how it is in other parts of the country, but here in Nashville ,Moth Orchids, or Phalaenopsis have become supermarket throwaway plants like poinsettias. They are meant to look graceful and decorative for a few weeks, then as they shrivel or go out of bloom, they end up in the waste basket- for cultivating them might be too much trouble.

I have bought several of these orchids, kept them through the winter, then sent them out to the humid breezes of my southern porch. Drenched and drained, and allowed to keep their roots airy, they thrive and re-bloom. Every month I fertilize them. They vacation from April till frost in mid-October. Yet, had I followed the advice of the grower-seller, I would have thrown them out too. For these orchids do not like their roots confined in a plastic pot inside a clay pot without a drainage hole . Nor do they like having three ice cubes tossed into their pot each week onto their tender tropical roots.That is what the cultural directions that came with them said to do. Pay the 9.99 for the orchid, smash the clay pot if you can't wiggle the plastic pot out. Then leave them in their clear pot or put the in a fancier pot with great drainage. Water them generously every one or two days. Get water on their leaves and let them summer on your shady porch.

I love Phalaenopsis because of their sunset colors. They have faces, like pansies, and I think of them as tropical pansies at a fiesta, dancing to mambo or salsa as they sway in the wind.

But growers will not leave well enough alone. Kroger had a new shipment over the weekend, and they were bright blue. They were spray-painted just like the blue poinsettias I saw at Christmas, with their leaves dusted with glitter. Pure kitsch. Imagine going out to your garden and spray painting your Iceberg roses blue. Nature has never allowed a blue rose. Some might question your taste. Would you spray paint a daffodil?

Someone will buy these but I think they will not last long. Flowers want to breath. How can they breathe if they are coated with paint?

1 comment:

Out on the prairie said...

Mine have done well with the ice cubes.I saw a group of orchid pots at a greenhouse, but nobody could tell me anything.Mine are in the same pots I got them in and bloom regular.