Phalaenopsis replay

Our phalaenopsis orchid started popping its buds about one week ago, and the second one opened early this week. The plant will be in bloom for many weeks.

Some 30 or 35 years ago (I did no research on that assumption – just used my old memory), moth orchids replaced mums to become the most popular flowering potted plant in America. Siri just disagreed, telling me it’s the poinsettia, but somehow that doesn’t seem like a fair comparison. Anyway, the orchids are pretty special.

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Changes in how they are propagated made that all possible. Growers can increase their numbers rapidly by tissue culture. That’s why you can find beautiful flowering phalaenopsis orchids for $18-$25, and that’s why impulse shoppers like Neil end up with so many.

Let me take you back 12 or 14 years when my friend Jimmy Turner, formerly of the Dallas Arboretum, introduced me to a self-watering pot called Lechuza. I ordered mine online, but I’m having trouble finding the metallic gray Maxi Cubi pots that I bought. Mine are 5.25 x 5.25 x 10 inches tall. Jimmy admitted they were odd looking, and he said they were expensive, but he told me it was the first self-watering pot he had ever liked. Jimmy’s word is gold, so, I bought several. Yes, they are expensive! I grew my African violets and orchids in them. They thrived. (Still do.) Good luck navigating their websites, both in Europe and the U.S.

This is a plant I bought last year, February 2023. We enjoyed its bloom stalk last year. Following my wife’s re-election to the McKinney ISD board of trustees, I finally repotted it into a leftover Lechuza in May. Like others before it, this plant has done really well.

Jump ahead to early March 2024 as the new growth was starting to show. There was a tiny point of a flower stalk shooting up out of the ground. Four weeks later, you see what we have.

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The meter looks like a thermometer – that’s how I know when to put water into the reservoir. A fiber wick pulls it up into the very porous potting mix. I have applied a very small amount of liquid plant food every 6 or 8 weeks over the past year. I don’t want to add too much, because there is no way to leach out any excess.

This is where the orchid lives in its north-facing window. Click image for larger view.

And sharing the photo…
This is pretty much my recycle center for things that I love. You’re also seeing:
Devil’s ivy I showcased in e-gardens several months back. This plant is made up from cuttings I rooted in water and then planted into a loose, highly organic potting soil. They have done splendidly. The mother plant has regrown. It now is slightly larger than this offspring, and it’s ready for another round of cuttings. It’s sitting on the floor beneath all of this.
What appears to be an old radio horn. It’s actually a base into which I could slip one of my first iPhones to play music out of my library. Great nostalgic sound. Gift from our son Todd.
Old table radio. I collect old radios. The person who said “I’m an old radio guy” was correct. I have probably 60. This one just looked right sitting there.
Actually, the wooden “table” is a 1930s radio. The speaker and tuner are both hidden behind what appears to be a drawer front lower left in my photo.
The ceramic art piece of a mom comforting her child given to my wife by our daughter Erin. That has special meaning to us both.
My Amazon clock has gone wacky and has decided that this guy from College Station likes an orange dial.
And finally, the real reason to click to enlarge, is my little table-model greenhouse given to me last year by our granddaughter sweet Ella Grace. She had assembled it from a kit, but you’ll see how she has personalized it for me. She said she spent 30 hours making it. I love Ella, and I love her greenhouse!

To wrap it all up, the orchid is for Lynn, but the collection is for me. This is Neil’s corner.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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