Don’t Try This At Home

The orchid society folks would be revoking my membership about now–if they could–for the treatment this poor plant has received at my hands.  But I show this to prove a point–that orchids are much tougher plants than we give them credit for!

In fact, my first words of advice to orchid newbies is just that.  Think about where we see a lot of them being sold: grocery stores and home improvement stores–about the least hospitable places on earth for tender delicate plants.  In my grocery store, the orchids are right in front of the door, where they get blasted by the bitterly cold air in the winter–not the best place for any plant, but certainly not a good place for one that’s supposed to be “delicate.”

What happened here to this poor pathiopedilum (tropical lady’s slipper) is this.  Quite a long time ago–I can’t even say how long but we’re talking a period of weeks, perhaps even a month or more–I noticed that the pot this plant was in was empty.  I picked it up, looked around for the plant, and maybe a week later, composted the orchid bark.  Still didn’t notice the plant.

This is where the orchids summer outdoors, and you can see how tightly packed in here they are.  I’ll give you a close-up of where I found the orchid this morning.  Don’t ask what made me notice it–I was on my way out to hang clothes on the line and just happened to glance down.  Why I saw it then and not when I was looking is anyone’s guess.

If I had to “guesstimate” conservatively I’d say it was living outside of its pot and medium a minimum of 3 weeks.  It was probably well over a month and maybe longer.

But remember–in their native habitats, orchids live on tree branches and cling to tree bark–this is how they live!  So this is nothing unusual!

So the next time you’re at an orchid society meeting and they’re filling up your head with watering regimens and fertilizing schedules and “weekly weakly” nonsense, remember this.  Orchids are a lot tougher than you think and will go to a lot of trouble to die on you.  Don’t kill them with kindness!

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