grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Rescuing Orchids

I bought this sweet little miniature orchid at the Milwaukee Art Museum in the Spring when we went on a road trip to meet Gayla Trail and listen to a gardening lecture she was presenting at their show Art in Bloom.  We're all so citified that I think we were a little worried about being trapped in the car for that long (nearly 2 hours!) so I conjured up some Southern survival principles and made us homemade pimento cheese sandwiches and other various snacks for the trip.  Getting there was a lot of fun.  We drove through torrential rains and got lost at least 10 times even though it's a straight shot from Chicago to Milwaukee.  We ate so much on the drive that when we arrived and Gayla wanted to have lunch, we were all too full, but also too embarrassed to admit we'd eaten pimento cheese sandwiches all the way there.

While standing in line to get our books signed after the lecture we spotted these lovely little orchids.  In truth, I think it was Mr. Brown Thumb who spotted them then seduced us all into buying one.  Or rather, he bought one and we all copied him knowing if we didn't, he'd be bragging about his orchid all over social media while we sat bathed in regret that we didn't get one, too.  That could have been me!  That could have been my orchid!

Everyone was skeptical about buying them.  Orchids bloom once then sit naked for a couple of years before blooming again.  We've all killed at least one.  We whined a lot but eventually we all (me, MBT, Jessica, Kim) bought one as a souvenir.  Mine did great for a while, despite the neglect.  It's in a perfect spot in the bathroom with lots of indirect light and close to the water for convenience.  Still, I never remember to water it.  And it's still in the same tiny pot it came in because I'm too afraid to repot it.  Eventually a few months ago the main stem turned completely brown.  I noticed some of the roots had shriveled up too.  The only reason I didn't throw it out was because the leaves were still green.  So I started trying to revive it, watering it once a week or so.  To my surprise, some of the roots started to plump up.

I did a little research on the dead stem last night and it appears this is quite common and doesn't necessarily mean the whole plant is dead.  Most articles I read recommended cutting the brown stem all the way to the base of the plant so that the plant can focus all its energy on regeneration.  So that's what I've done.  I have no idea if this little guy will make it but I'm going to try my best to revive him.  I have the signed books from Gayla and the memories of the insightful discussions and laughs we had chatting during lunch and dinner but this is a living memory of that fun drive and meeting new friends so I'd like to save if I can.  If you have any tips for rescuing orchids please pass them on.  Otherwise, I'll keep you posted!


  1. Good luck! My fingers are crossed :) I got one for Christmas last year and don't think it's going to bloom again this year, but I remain hopeful! Lol

  2. Its really an awesome post, which is really impressive too. great work done. keep updating more and more.

  3. I am soooo impressed you have kept your orchid alive. Mine's toast, but the memory is still good. You guys need to come back up here to Milwaukee some time.

    And I think it's about time I give orchid growing another shot.

  4. Patience, more than anything. Good root structure is key. I rescued a $2 orchid from Lowe's about six months ago and it's actually going to bloom for me! Something about the change in temperature set it off and it's doing very well. Hope yours cooperates.