Friday, April 18, 2014

A Passion

The Orchid Bug

I can remember it very clearly---over a decade ago- my dad walking out of a craft tent at a Chicago art fair (of all places) holding one of the ugliest plants I had ever seen, an orchid. He spent $65 dollars on a plant that looked absolutely ridiculous and I thought he was crazy...........

Now 10 years and 100's of orchids later, I look back fondly at that memory and wonder what I would have told someone if they would have told me that later in my life, this plant (aside from my wife and kids) would be my passion.

Spotted-Tathiopedilum "Winston Churchill"

Orchids have been here long before us and will be here long after us. If a plant is well taken care of and given exactly what it needs, it will last through multiple generations. There are orchids in the Smithsonian's collection that have been there since the 1800's It is neat to think that my kids also catch the "orchid bug" so that they might inherit some of my most prized plants.

These little (sometimes not so little) plants have long been sought after and held with much wonder and amazement. The first orchid was brought to England sometime in the 1700's and was truly by mistake. A well to do plant lover had sent men to the jungles to find a different species of plant. When the ship arrived back in England, the gentleman found the plants he desired and they were packed inside another tough, rubbery looking plant. Curiosity kills the cat they say, however in this instance- this one man's curiosity started something in the plant world that could challenge the tulip craze in the Netherlands. Figuring, why not? He planted the odd specimen in a pot and put it in his greenhouse. Roughly a year later it bloomed and to the worlds amazement it was unlike anything they had ever seen. We now know this plant to be the corsage orchid. Our friend the Cattelya. Now....hunting orchids was dangerous, many died in pursuit of that one unobtainable I prefer to walk into my local grocer or plant society, thank you very much..... not one to live life on the edge all of the time.

Everyone will ask you, " but aren't they hard to grow?" Simple answer. no. If you can grow African Violets, you can grow an orchid. Your average orchid that you will see at your local supercenter or grocery store is a Phalaenopsis Orchid. Large flat leaves, tall flower spikes with beautiful moth shaped flowers in every color under the rainbow. For the beginner, Phalaenopsis, or Phals, are the best choice. They can take the climate that the average home is going to provide. Average temperatures of 65-72, nice bright (but no direct sun) window and weekly watering is all they require. Watering is the key here. Not enough... the plant will die, too much and the plant will die. Best advise-- once a week take the orchid out of the decorative pot, go to your sink and run temped water through the pot for about 2 minutes. Let it drain- DO NOT let it sit in water. Like all plants, a yearly re-pot is good for them and will entice new growth and new blooms. Too expensive you might say?? Not anymore! I was at my local garden center superstore and they had a double spike miniature phals for $8.96... you can't eat at a fast food restaurant that cheap, and this plant will last a LOT longer than that greasy food ever will!

Grab an orchid, get a book about them. Read up, educate yourself and you will be amazed at what these little plants will do... but be careful- much like a potato chip- one is never enough......


Ian and Lisette
Our Guest Blogger is Ian Kitson that has been a collector of orchids for a long time. He garnered his passion from his father. Ian works for Central Insurance Companies. He is civic minded. Ian and his wife Lisette, have had their home on the YWCA CHRISTMAS WALK, a local fundraising event. He is a man of many talents, one being a talented artist. They are involved in the community and we are blessed by this. Thank you, Ian

Christmas at the Kitson's

Louise and Sue

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