Lady Slippers easy as Old Shoes
Yes, you can have a life and grow orchids too. You see, the simple beauty of orchids is deceiving. Sure, their delicate features make them appear “difficult” to take care of but (other than weekly watering) orchids thrive on neglect. That’s why orchids are Juanita Howard’s signature flower. Howard lives in a downtown waterfront condo tastefully appointed with orchids at all times. Juanita says “Most people don’t realize just how easy they are” and because they are so unique people mistakenly believe they are expensive. They’re not. You can buy them for 8 bucks at Trader Joes. Or you can now “recycle” orchids inexpensively and have one blooming all year. This is new a concept that appeals to those of us who want orchids but fear the commitment. The Orchid Exchange on NW 12th in the Pearl sells plants for $20 and up. But here’s the beauty of it; you can bring the orchid back when it’s done blooming and get 25% off the next one. Pawel (Paul) Wojtanowicz says “All our customers wanted us to rebloom the orchids for them”. Thus, the Orchid Exchange was born. Pawel’s business partner Gary Brown makes a good point, “Instead of buying a flower arrangement that lasts a week, for the same cost you can have an orchid that blooms for months.” Then, just bring it back and get another. Jean Burch of NE Portland “trades in” her orchids about once a month; “Ya, I’ve kept them and they bloom again. But I just don’t have the room.” So for her, orchid recycling is the best of both worlds. For me personally, it takes some of the fun out of it. I gotta tell you, there is nothing more rewarding than getting your orchid to bloom again. You feel like a hero and can’t wait to show it off. Nobody knows all you did was water the darn thing. Take a short cut to success by choosing the easiest orchids; ‘Dancing Doll’ and ‘lady’s slipper’ are popular but the ‘moth orchid’ is easiest of all to flower again. Just cut off the old flower spike at the joint or notch below the lowest flower on the stem and the plant will send up another flourish. All three of these orchids thrive in the same temperature and light conditions most of us like too. So see, we’re a perfect family. In the summer I throw the lot of them outside and tell them to get some fresh air in the shade. When they stop blooming I simply store them downstairs on a work bench under a fluorescent shop light (plugged into a timer which remains on 12 hours a day) then water and fertilize the little epiphytes weekly. That’s it. (Oh, and I also think it helps to remind them they have to bloom to get out of the cellar again.) I’ll tell you, when the November gray sets in, I’m a blooming idiot over orchids.
Easy, Easy Orchids
Moth Orchid. Phalaenopsis (Ask for: fella-NOP-sis)
Lady’s Slipper. Paphiopedilum (Ask for: pa-fee-oh-PEDDLE-um)
Dancing Doll, Star Wars. Oncidium (Ask for: on-SID-e-um)
The Down Low on Orchid Care
Use warm water.
Never allow plants to sit in water.
*Fertilize weekly. Half strength.
Use orchid fertilizer.
*Keep away from air vents.
Hot or cold.
*No direct sun.
Bright, indirect light is best.