Another way to learn patience

There are several proven ways to learn how to be patient, and I’ve tried a few. For example: Fly-fishing for salmon in a Scottish river (salmon caught? zero). Putting up wallpaper (aaargghh). Taking part in a 24-hour police stake-out (okay, I’ve never actually done that).

But I’m learning another method: Growing orchids. Now when I say “growing” orchids, I am talking about “growing” on a very modest scale. Namely, on a window sill in our main bathroom in the house in Daglan.

I know there are orchid lovers who have entire glassed-in greenhouses devoted to the plants. These are the kind of people who know not only the Latin names of each variety, but the common English names: Little Brown Betty, Mandarin Butterfly, Georgia Peach Jam. (Yes, I made those up.)

If you’re like us, from time to time you buy a flowering orchid plant on a whim, or someone gives you one as a gift. It’s beautiful; you put it in a window sill; and eventually the flowers die and fall off. Then the whole thing looks barren, with just a twig or two in the air, and then you throw the plant away. Well, I decided a while ago, those days are over.

For my new regime, I went online and found a YouTube video on caring for orchids, and we’ve been following the advice ever since. And now we have two orchid plants in our bathroom that happen to be flowering (sort of) at the same time. And here they are:

They are lovely, aren’t they?

The one with the darker flower, on the right, had many such flowers, but they have been slowly withering and falling off. The plant on the left has (finally) started blooming again.

The entire process really does take time. What I’ve learned is that when a branch has lost all its flowers, you cut it off. Eventually — and this could take weeks — a new branch starts to emerge from the base of the plant. Eventually — and again, this could take weeks — buds will appear and then blossom. Magic!

What else have I learned? Water the orchids just once a week, and even then don’t water too much. Fertilize lightly along the way (yes, you can buy specific orchid fertilizer in a nursery). And don’t expose the plants to too much sunlight.

I think that’s it for the basics. But if any real orchid experts have anything to add, please use the Comments feature at the bottom of this posting. Thank you, thank you very much. (Elvis accent.)


This entry was posted in Flora and fauna, Life in southwest France and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Another way to learn patience

  1. Deb Laing says:

    What good timing as I have just been given one as a gift so I will follow your advice about caring for it.

  2. Robert Jefferson says:

    We used this regime to successfully maintain Orchids back in the UK and found that we would regularly get re-growth and new flowers, albeit it can take several months between floral displays. One other thing we found, is that they need to kept in a cooler place for a period whilst in their dormant state.

    Sadly now we are in the sunny and arid Charente, every specimen we’ve purchased drops its flowers within a couple of weeks. Clearly the dank and dreary weather of the northern reaches of the UK suited them far better. We will be experimenting further, but maybe the summer dry heat is just too much for orchids, which I assume, like some humidity which was plentiful in Lancashire.

    Returning to the UK just for the orchids is definitely a step too far.

  3. Caitlin Woodbury says:

    One ice cube, once a week, provides just the right amount of water.

  4. Edward McGaugh says:

    Mel does the same with great success. If you really want to go hog wild try removing the stick and let them grow naturally. We think they look more interesting that way. I think the stick is there to aid in shipping. Without it they grow horizontally.

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