Thursday, December 10, 2009

Indoor gardening takes over - the sexy orchids.

It's about that time of year where I pack it in, store away all of my tools and bid the garden farwell until about March. I now turn my eye to indoor horticulture where it is much more warm and colorful. Right now I have 4 phalaenopsis orchids which I really have come to love. I was all about african violets up until a couple of years ago. I don't know if I got bored of them or what...but I made the switch. I find the phalaenopsis orchids to be really easy to grow in my house. The slider must have the right light for them to be really happy. We also let our house drop in temperature at night and they really like that too. This is (I think) my 3rd year growing them and I tried something different this summer which I may not try again.

I attempted to place them outside and let them hang out there for the summer over by Lake Larson and the garage. I thought that may be just enough light but not too much for them. Well, when the sun did decide to shine, they got a little fried and had some sun scald on their leaves. Then the rains came...and why I didn't pull them back inside is beyond me. Maybe I had too much on my plate at the time to think about it. But, despite the rain, they flowered all summer...and because of the rain the flowers were riddled with black spots. Yuck. I should have brought them back inside. Oh well. This coming summer, they will be staying inside.

One thing people say to me all the time when they hear I do orchids is theirs never bloom again after they get them. I think one of the main reason is because people take off the flower stems when the blooms drop. Don't do have to leave them on because that's where most of my flowers come from. You can see in the photo above, there's a new sprig shooting off of that spent one. 80% of my flowers come from old stems so leave them on.

This winter I'm also attempting something I haven't done before and that is a new organic fertilizer for the orchids. Phalaenopsis orchids typically bloom from December through May and I'm going to use Neptune's Hydrolized Fish Fertilizer and it's make up is 2 - 4 - 1. It's basically a fish emulsion and I'm using it once a week just to see what results I get. I will say that Lars is fascinated with the plants after I water/feed them. I'm not sure if that's going to be the case with all dogs since he has been graced with a super sniffer, but I'm just saying. I will report, my cat couldn't care less about it.

You guys all know how I feel about Home Cheapo but I am not above rescuing plants from there if they are in good shape. I picked up this little orchid from there around Thanksgiving for 8 could I resist. I do have to repot it though because that is a tiny little pot. I was aghast at the instructions on how to care for this poor thing...water it with melting ice cubes once a week. Seriously? **face palm** Is gardening becoming so dumbed down that watering plants has been reduced to leaving ice cubes to melt on them? Ugh. "Gardeners" like that should just do themselves a favor and get a silk orchid from Home Goods.

This pot has three different orchids in it I don't dare separate...there's a plain white, a white with some pink hints, and the white with the purple netting. I have a yellow one that took the most of the beating this summer and it's just hanging out growing more roots. I hope it flowers this winter, but we'll see. I did repot everyone up this fall into much bigger and shallow pots with orchid substrate. I think they are going to like their new homes.

I did get to my winter window boxes this year! I never got around to it last year because Sam took up a lot of my time . I really like how these turned out and I have to get a better photo of the big one featured above...sometimes the iphone camera just sucks at taking photos. I'll have to use my real camera for it. I used cut holly, rhododendron, norway spruce, juniper, variegated boxwood, and lavender. For the accents, I used maiden grass, switch grass, hydrangea flowers, and crabapples. In the past, I have used cut white pine. But this year, I scored a ton of cut holly from some bushes I pruned back for a client. I LOVE IT!!!

Here's the garage window box and this photo was taken with my real camera (what a difference) It's similar to the big one but I kept a sedge in the front that was left over from the summer box and I used cut sweet fern from around the pond. I used the cut holly, lavender, switch grass, and hydrangea. I think it's darling. ;)


Keri said...

Crap, I bought my MIL one for MOther's day and trimmed the stems as per the instructions on the plant tag. I did leave a few inches of stems and nodes but nothing has started to grow back. How often will it produce stems/flowers?

The Garden Consultant said...

Hey Keri,

Mine usually start to throw out new flowers around mid to late November. So far, they have flowered every year for me since I have had them. I'll admit, I wasn't that great at fertilizing them the first year but used an organic powered flower food last year and they seemed to flower more. So, try to get some fertilizer on it...preferably organic because it's almost impossible to burn them and something with a high middle number like 2 - 4 - 1.