I picked up a few orchids that weren’t going to make it from the clearance shelf at Kroger last year, and learned a LOT about orchids. I’m not an expert, but I learned that the reason you can buy orchids everywhere is because they have become a mass-market export of Singapore.
Unfortunately, the whole process – which takes years of care in miles upon miles of greenhouses – is designed to have the orchids peak when they get to the store. They look so perfect and infallible, don’t they? And the watering instructions are so simple! What could go wrong?
Well, the whole process of leaving the greenhouse, forcing them to bloom for sale, and all of that, is a shock to the system. So that’s why they all die as soon as you get them home.
On top of that, they are given to you in the cheapest possible potting substance. Phals – the kind of orchids mass-produced – need a bark potting soil. It drains well. If you have roots in moisture even a little too long, they rot and die very quickly.
I managed to save one plant through learning all of this, and it lived in a strawberry quart container. It drained well, and it’s been doing okay. It’s been growing new leaves. The flower stalk went away a long time ago, but hey, it might come back!
I realized last night it wasn’t really doing so great in the strawberry container, and just repotted it – into a giant pot. It’s not a long-term solution, because they like to be a bit pot-bound, but it’s alive. Pretty soon, I’ll have to invest in some actual orchid pots.
Anyway, it’s alive, which is better than most all of its brethren are doing right now.