My wife and I are not what you would call gardeners. In fact we take bets on how long plants that we are given as gifts will survive. So I want to share our experience with the two orchids that we received as gifts. They came with lots of advice on the proper care and feeding of orchids. We didn’t listen to any of it. If a piece was written on how not to care for orchids, it would have been based on our experience.
The first orchid was a gift from my brother and he sent it to us just before we left on our move from Massachusetts to Florida. It was given with love so we decided that the orchid should accompany us on the move in spite of the poor traveling conditions for plants in cars during the summer heat. We found a “safe” place for the orchid in the back seat and after the strange look from the receptionist at the first hotel we named it Alice. It didn’t mitigate the look but gave us a sense of eccentricity traveling with our pet orchid. Between Boston and Washington DC, Alice lost all of her flowers in spite of our bringing her into the hotel each night. She was turning brown and looking peaked. We tried to leave her in the trash at the hotel in Arlington VA. A change of heart caused us to retrieve her from that fate and she made the rest of the journey. When we arrived in Florida she was wilted and brown. A little water perked her up a bit, but we weren’t hopeful. Alice got parked on the porch and received intermittent watering’s and little attention.
Shortly after not killing Alice, we got another orchid from Mary’s brother and sister in law in Sanibel. We had a grand total of a couple hours in the car with a stop for lunch. By the time we got home, this unnamed orchid looked worse than Alice. Over the next week the leaves turned brown, the flowers fell off and the stems dried out. We couldn’t bring ourselves to declare her dead so we placed her on the porch next to Alice and waited to see which would die first.
Orchids are the type of plant that elicit a good deal of emotion from those “experts” that have kept theirs alive. Don’t place them in direct sunlight said one friend. Another said that watering should be done every other week by placing an ice cube in the pot. Someone else said take the plants out of their pots and let them sit in water for an hour, then put them back in the pots. Mary actually took that approach a couple of times. Somehow the orchids stayed green and only lost a few more leaves.
We moved into our new home in the summer and the orchids found a nice spot in the sun room. It’s air conditioned and doesn’t get direct sun. I poured some water in the pots every now and then when I thought about it. One afternoon Alice began to sprout buds. The buds became flowers. She now has almost a dozen flowers in bloom and looks great except for the partially dried stems. They aren’t brown enough to be declared dead, but they just don’t look all green and supple. Alice’s friend has a stem shooting skyward and looks to be on a path to blooming as well. For plants that need special attention, these have done very well with none.
I can’t help but think that all of the advice that we received on orchids was just so much noise. Our world is filled with people and their opinions. While some is good, most is just noise. The orchids did what they had to do to survive and thrive with no special attention. We can all learn a lesson from their success.