Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One tough orchid

This is a photo of what my phalaenopsis orchid should look like when it next blooms. I say “should” because it’s been nearly three years since I’ve seen it in all its glory; forgive me if my memory is rusty.

I bought the plant at Trader Joe’s in Newport News, Va. If you are a fan, you know that store sells delicious snacks, quirky party food, cheap wine and, on occasion, beautiful flowers. I was sucker for the elegant blooms. But orchids are temperamental and testy. They are slow to bloom. They want humidity, but not too much water. They want light, but not too much direct sunlight. The orchid bloomed for several months, the nothing. The leaves were green, but no shoots for future blooms.

I was very ill in the spring of 2008 and the orchid was nearly forgotten. In other words, my neglect nearly killed the thing. When my husband and I moved to Bristol later that year, I left the plant behind with my parents. They can grow virtually anything and I asked my dad to adopt the sickly orchid. As in: Please keep this plant, I nearly killed it and don’t know what to do with it now.

So he listened as well as you might imagine: He repotted it, brought it back to life, drove it across Virginia and delivered it to me in person months later. Within a couple of weeks I noticed a small shoot. The plant must have heard me talking about it, because the shoot quickly withered away. Dang.

So for the last two years or so, the plant has just sat in the kitchen, mocking me. It has shiny green leaves and is growing, but no sign of blooms. Then last month, I noticed a little bump under one of the leaves. Slowly it pushed its way higher. I was flabbergasted – it is a shoot, with four “bumps” on it. I gave it some orchid food and moved it to another window. The “bumps” are now clearly future blooms.

I figure it will still be a few weeks until the orchid blooms again and I am anxiously awaiting the flowers. I suppose some people would have given up on the plant long ago. After trying to give it away to my dad, then having him return it, I figured I was supposed to keep it after all.

I don’t know if they orchid is offering some life lesson. I have killed many plants and nursed many back from the brink. But I know that after nearly three years without a blossom, I want to see what this plant can do. Look for photos to come when the blossoms open.

No comments:

Post a Comment