Orchids for Winter Beauty

Orchids are such beautiful flowers, so much variety in their colors and shape from simple to ruffled, single and double blooms, pure white to exotic two or more color varieties.  My gardening calendar recommends orchids for January blooms.  This must be a common idea because the local grocery store floral department has dozens of them in full bloom.  If you are an orchid fan, a visit to the Biltmore House gardens should include a walk through the Orchid greenhouse. This lovely ruffled, lavendar beauty was there on my last visit.  I am trying to learn the difference between a cattleya from a cymbidium, but no guarantees that I got all these right, LOL!!  I think this one is a cattleya variety.

Orchid Garden 2

I think the pretty pink striped orchid with the solid pink lip is a phalaenopsis variety.

Orchid Garden 1

This apricot orchid with stripes has an unusual shape to the lip and column.

Orchid Garden 3

The lady slipper appearance of this gorgeous green orchid with a striped green and white septal has to be a Paphiopedilum. (Say that three times real fast, LOL!)

Orchid Garden 4

I am guessing that this pink beauty is an Odontoglossum, going on the ruffled petals and septal, and the arrangement of the solid pink lip and golden color column.

Orchid Garden 5

About six years ago, I was given an orchid in full bloom. Those blooms lasted a good six weeks, then slowly died off. Since then it has sat with the same leaves, not really growing. This past summer when it was much warmer and more humid than usual, I put it outside for a bit, knowing these are mostly tropical plants. Well, that did something because the roots started growing, and it put out two new leaves. As I lifted out the liner to empty the excess water, I noticed that they were coming through the bottom. So, I thought I should repot it. After months of procrastination, I did get to it last week during one of the warmer days.

Orchid repotting 2

Of course, I knew nothing about repotting orchids, but a search on the internet and a bit of wisdom from the garden center provided guidance. I got some orchid potting mix at the garden center. They take a special growing medium of porous bark-like material that will absorb water.

Orchid repotting 1

Pour out the old mix and discard. The bits have nutrients so the plant can be fed as the roots attach, so you don’t want to reuse the old stuff.  I had to pick off a few remaining bits that the plant was attached to.

Orchid repotting 4

Trim the dead or damaged roots. One of the really long roots that was growing through the bottom of the pot had a damaged section at the top. It was so damaged, that I just cut it off.  I threw it out, and now am wondering if I should have kept it to propagate a new plant.  Ah well.

Orchid repotting 5

Here it looks like I might have been able to divide this plant into two plants. But since I have enough trouble with one plant, I left it alone.

Orchid repotting 6

I placed it in a new wider and larger plastic liner pot, with bottom of the leaves level with the top of the pot.

Orchid repotting 7

Fill in the spaces with more growing mix. Resist the urge to press it into place, this isn’t soil and will damage the plant.

Orchid repotting 9

Then, the liner is placed into a decorative pot I found at the thrift store last week. Perfect size!  I am fairly sure this one is a Phalaenopsis, due to the wide leaves with a crease in the middle.  If I remember right, it had a white flower with a pink lip.

Orchid repotting 8

I watered it well, allowing the excess to drain off, and placed it back into the decorative pot. I bought a little mister at the store to feed it with. The mister will not provide humidity, that will be from a tray of water set nearby, but it will be used once a week with a very weak solution of plant food. I’ll be interested to see if these little changes will result in blooms.  I’ve been keeping it in the bathroom where the overall humidity is higher than any other room in the house, but the light level is lower there due to the north facing window.  So, I am going to try it in the kitchen for a while.

Orchid repotting 10

I have more flowers to show you, as I tend to take pictures of beautiful flowers a lot.  Last year when we went to Wilmington, the hotel had orchids all over the place.

Orchids 4

Red spotted Phalaenopsis was growing near the door.

Orchids 5

This one had green petals and septal with a pink throat and lip, very unusual coloring!

Orchids 6

Peachy pink Phalaenopsis was blooming near the elevator.

Orchids 7

This yellow orchid with a white lip and deep pink throat had two blooms open, and more to come in buds.

Orchids 8

Our local Mountain State Fair garden competition has an orchid category.   There were not a lot of entries, and this one had a ribbon.  It really caught my eye, with its green and purple coloring.  I am thinking it has to be a hybrid of varieties.  Did you know that there are over 10,000 known hybrids of orchids?  I was surprised to learn that.

State Fair 2016 - Orchids green purple

This two tone purple one had a lot of blooms, gorgeous colors.

State Fair 2016 - Orchid purple

Here are a couple more photos from the Biltmore Gardens Orchid house.  These orchids in several colors and varieties were clustered together in a gorgeous display.

Orchid Garden 6

A yellow Phalaenopsis with a pink throat finishes our tour.

Orchid Garden 7

Originally, I planned to show all these orchids with a book review of a non-fiction book called The Orchid Thief.  It is the true story about a man who goes to great lengths to obtain rare orchids, and once prosecuted for theft of rare wild orchids from the Florida state swamps.  He is obsessed with a rare orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii or Ghost Orchid, which is a very unusual white orchid with lower petals that resemble legs.  The reviews are excellent, but I found the writing boring and kind of all over the place.  It does give an interesting glimpse of the mania of orchid collectors – called orchidelirium by the Victorians – and also the seedy underworld of orchid commerce.  The subject of orchids and the world of orchid collectors still interests me, so I’ll try other books on the subject before recommending one.

Update, just to be clear, none of these flowers belong to me – they are all pictures I took while at the Biltmore House in Asheville or the Hilton Hotel in Wilmington.  The only plant I have is the bedraggled one that I repotted, it isn’t flowering but I have hope.

Are you a fan of orchids?

Orchid Potting Mix on Amazon.

Sharing at Share Your Cup, Saturday Sparks at Pieced Pastimes


24 thoughts on “Orchids for Winter Beauty

  1. Patricia

    Love orchids. My husband has had very good luck keeping his blooming. He puts 2 ice cubes in his pots once a week and once a week african violets fertilizer liquid 7 drops ( what we had on hand).

  2. Sandy

    I love orchids. I have had several plants over the years that have bloomed only once, but I have one beauty that will bloom quite regularly.

  3. I have an orchid that my son gave me and almost killed it when our sun room got too cold last year. It has new leaves but that’s it. I don’t think it likes it’s pot. Oh well. They made a movie from that book and it was quite good.

  4. Orchids are certainly intriguing – years ago, was neighbor to a wonderful family who had “migrated” from West By God Virginia to Illinois (fun family!) – they had established a beautiful glass greenhouse on the side of the home, entranced from the kitchen, FULL of orchids – so beautiful, each one so different from the other. It was always so pleasurable to share morning coffee there, with all of them. Nice memory!

  5. They are certainly beautiful flowers, aren’t they? My dad had a large greenhouse where he grew all different varieties in our yard so I have always been a big fan of them. I raise most of mine outside now and bring them in when they are blooming.

  6. Good luck getting your baby to bloom after repotting it! I have one orchid now, which bloomed for about 3 months, just sitting the last 4. Might give repotting/feeding a try one time, as I have not had success with this before.

    I find that Trader Joe’s is a great place to look for smaller orchid plants in a wide variety of bloom colors and might need to get a few soon.

    When we lived in MD, a Christmas trip to Longwood Gardens in PA to see the lights always included some time in their fabulous orchid houses.

  7. Pat Evans

    I have 6 orchids, all Phalaenopsis. All have rebloomed but one and one of them constantly sends out new buds on the old flower stems. There’s a name for these rebloomers and for the flower stems, but I don’t remember them. Your orchid may indeed need more light, filtered is best. I had one in a north facing window and when I read about the light needs, I moved it to the dining room, but out of direct sun. Low and behold, it bloomed! They are fun, but I haven’t had luck with anything but the Phals. Too dry and cold in my western NY house.
    I read the orchid thief years ago and don’t remember much about it (can you tell, I’m getting old with the not remembering?). But there was some interesting detail in the history.

  8. catsandroses

    Love orchids, but I’ve never tried growing them myself (I have all I can handle with African violets, lol). Your preparations look excellent, though, so am feeling confident that yours will re-bloom (especially with all your success getting your amaryllis bulbs to do so!)

  9. Marianne

    I have two orchids. Both are phalaenopsis, and both have flower spikes right now, so I am expecting flowers come spring. I always repot them after their flowers fade in the summer. You don’t want to increase the size of the pot too much. They seem to like to be pot bound a bit. As far as watering, I water about once a week. I let them stand in a bowl of water for about 10-15 minutes so the bark soaks up the water, then I fertilize them with 1 tsp/1 gallon of water with a orchid fertilizer. The flowers are beautiful but I prefer my African violets as they bloom more!

  10. Linda Wagner

    Beautiful flowers, I know a lot more about orchid’s now than I did before reading your blog. Thank you for the information. hope you have a great day! Linda

  11. Good Morning Carole! Each of these Orchids are beautiful. Deanna gave Hubby and I Orchids last year for Christmas and they bloomed off and on all year long. I did not have a clue about all of the specifics they needed for their care; I will have to write down this information and use it for them this year. Thank you for sharing and have a fantastic creative day!

  12. Okay….I was gifted an orchid from one of my students. I just trimmed the last of the dead bloom stems off…I’m assuming the blooms will be dormant for winter??? After seeing all your blooms I really want to succeed in it’s care. 🙂

  13. Rosemaryflower

    Wow, those are so pretty. I was visiting my sister yesterday in Maryland and she has a lot of plants.
    Your orchids are beautiful!

  14. These are beautiful Carole, what a variety. I love orchids and have seven or eight around the house, most have spikes right now. Happy New Year.

  15. Mary Jean Cunningham

    Oh, I hope your orchid gets happy and blooms! A few of my neighbors grow them, for which I am very impressed – I thought they required a greenhouse, special handling, etc., but I guess maybe not. I hope you’ll let us know how things go since the repotting. If you have never had the opportunity to visit Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia, I recommend it wholeheartedly for any time of year but especially in the winter when the greenhouses lift everyone’s spirits – and they have a wonderful orchid display as well, as another commenter noted. My first indoor plant love since I was a child is African violets, although they don’t always love me back, LOL!

  16. These are all so lovely. I have a few books by a writer named Jean Hersey. They are old and out of print now but I picked up used ones on Amazon. She takes you through the months of the year as she goes about her gardening, rug-hooking, traveling, etc. One of the most descriptive writers ever…anyway, her and her husband raised orchids and had a greenhouse just for them 🙂

  17. Jann Olson

    Wow, these are gorgeous! I have never had an orchid. I think they are so beautiful, but always seem a little fancier that what I am. lol! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

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