As I’m preparing to start off my official “no-buy” year in the depths of a snowy winter, I’m thinking of flowers. I’m pledging to buy only the essentials for 2010 so what about the occasional bouquet of flowers that I like to treat myself to? Luckily, we always have orchids!
One of my orchids
Orchids have long been a favorite flower of mine for two reasons. First, they are gorgeous. They come in so many different varieties. My favorite and the one that you may find most often in stores is Phalaenopsis (pronounced fal-en-OPP-sis). They have big, beautiful flowers and are, in my opinion, the easiest to keep.
Second, orchid flowers last a REALLY long time! Blossoms can last for 6-8 weeks which, compared to fresh cut flowers, is more than worth the $20-30 that you may pay for an orchid vs. the $8-$20 for a bouquet that may last just a week.
Orchid 1x cost of $20-30
Weekly fresh flowers for 6 weeks $48-120
Orchids win hands down! And if you are diligent and keep your orchid friends happy, you will be rewarded with many more blossoms in the future.
Now I admit that this is easier said than done. I’ve had very little success in getting my orchids to rebloom (that doesn’t stop them from being an amazing value though with their initiate blooms!). Some tips that I have gleaned from the web this morning are:
An orchid from Whole Foods
- Water is important but orchids need just the right amount of water. They prefer a weekly “soak” where you allow the bark to become completely saturated with water and then drained.
- If you give them too much water, mold and rot will appear (which is why the “soak” method where the water drains away is better than regular occasional watering). Not enough water and the leaves will become dry and leathery.
- It is also important to get the right amount of light for your particular orchid..orchid leaves should not be a dark green but instead a lighter green. The lighter color of the leaves indicates that the orchid is getting the proper amount of light.
- Regular fertilizing is key to reblooming.
For some great resources on growing orchids check out these links:
Beautiful fuschia orchid!
Last but not least, a recent addition to my orchid collection is a chocolate scented orchid. What?! Really?! Yes, after lusting after my friend Sarah’s chocolate scented orchid for a year, and failing miserably to locate one of my own (for months I visited a local flower shop in Harvard Square on the promise from the owner that they have them occasionally), I was surprised when a box was delivered to my office two months ago. Inside, a gift from Sarah, was a ready to bloom chocolate scented orchid! The delicate brown blossoms are gorgeous by themselves but after a day of blossoming, the scent chocolate-like scent is amazing. Now, it’s not exactly like chocolate but it’s pleasant enough to delight anyone and after two months of inhaling the scent from the continuous blooming next to my desk, I’m still not tired of it.
Some interesting orchid facts:
- You probably have orchid seeds in your cupboard already. The vanilla plant is an orchid and its seed pods are the beloved vanilla beans, topped only by saffron as the most expensive spice in the world.
- Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants..Charles Darwin studied them extensively.
- Popularity of orchids reached its peak in the Victorian era when “Orchidelirium” or “orchid flower madness” set in, causing wealthy orchid collectors to hire expeditions to travel the world in search of new orchid varieties!
Where to get your own orchids? I find the least expensive and fairly healthy orchids at Whole Foods although it is hit and miss when they have them in stock. You can also try to Google for local orchid growers (Google “orchids” + “your state or location name”). Many states have their own orchid shows. Even in the snowy New England we have a local orchid show in New Hampshire every February. Many growers will offer discounts at shows to make your purchase even more affordable. A good healthy small to mid-sized Phalaenopsis will range from $15-40. The bigger the plant the bigger the price as a general rule.