Orchid time

IMG_3692This is my only catteleya hybrid, “Sunset Glory.” Very peachy and tropical, and a reliable bloomer. I didn’t even have to buy it, because it was a door prize at my orchid club meeting last year.

Orchids definitely brighten up a room during the darkest days of winter. Many cultivars start spiking (putting out flower stems, known in the orchid world as spikes) right after the winter solstice. It seems to be all about the change in daylight hours.


The above orchid is oncidium Wildcat “Chadwick,” another freebie from the club. In my experience, oncidiums do well in the same conditions as phalaenopsis, the ubiquitous moth orchid. This is a rangy plant, with many burgundy-colored, white-rimmed blooms that last well over a month. I’m not a fan of the yellowish brown oncidiums, but this one is a pretty color.

IMG_3712This is one of the smaller phalaenopsis, not exactly a miniature, but sold as such. These are great little plants, robust and floriferous. This one took a first prize at an orchid show a couple of years ago, despite its humble beginnings at Trader Joe’s, where I bought it for $10. You can see the bud at the very tip of the spike has blasted (shriveled up) for a reason known only to the plant. That’s a common occurrence, and in the case of this orchid, there are many other blooms, so it’s not a catastrophe.

This time of year, I continue my regimen of Michigan State University “Tap Water Special” granular fertilizer one week, plain water the next, Superthrive the third week, and plain water the fourth. My plants tend to sulk and even scorch during the heat of summer, but, like me, they’re loving these cool winter temps.


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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10 Responses to Orchid time

  1. Joyce says:

    Thanks mine is come ng back for I need to change soil?


    • dirtynailz says:

      You should change your potting medium every couple of years or so, when you see it begin to break down, transforming from bark pieces into soil. Most orchids require potting medium that allows for air and water to pass through. Make sure you soak new potting medium for about a week before you use it to really saturate the bark, otherwise it will suck all the moisture away from the plant every time you water, and the plant will die of thirst.


  2. Kathy says:

    The catteleya’s color is outstanding! I haven’t tried any of these because I heard they were difficult to grow, and when they did grow, were huge. Thanks for the tip on the fertilizer! Although I follow your regimen, and have since you enticed me to buy orchids, I’ve used a different brand. I must say that phals are so easy to grow, and some of mine appear to be in near constant bloom. 🙂


  3. CJ Wright says:

    Your orchids are always so beautiful, dn. Thanks for posting your routine again. Your instructions are the only ones that worked to get my orchid to rebloom. Nothing had ever worked before. Now something new is happening. New blooms appeared on the tip of an old spike that flowered last year. Is this normal? I’m delighted, but definitely surprised.


  4. Kathy says:

    I’m with you CJ! The first time it happened to one of my plants I was shocked. I figured, as with other plants, old blooms and spikes should be removed. It’s so nice when they rebloom that now I wait until the old spike is dried up before I remove it.
    A question for DN…I have a plant that is growing what appears to be roots over and out of the pot.
    I would love to cut it and start a new plant, but am unsure if there is a specific way to treat orchids.
    I don’t want to injure the “mother” plant and the baby is getting quite large. Suggestions, please!


  5. Kathy says:

    Thanks! I will carefully try to remove it. The reason I thought it was a baby plant is that it has many roots which are starkly white in color. Most of my other orchids do have air roots, but they tend to be somewhat gray-green, some with with bright green tips.


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