29 September 2013

Summer of the Orchids

Soon after I posted about the native orchids growing in my front yard, I decided to go to the Coastal Carolina Orchid Society meeting.  I usually don't like being in these groups, because the focus is on one type of plant - it's not these groups, per se, but me.  I can be obsessive about things, as well as be a completist - someone who has to have every one of a certain thing.  I'm better about it now, but I still avoid them.  I like variety.  Back to what I was saying - the main reason I went to the meeting was that they were doing a repotting workshop, and I thought I might learn a little something, get continuing ed credit as a master gardener, and probably get a free orchid as well.  The afternoon was one that I won't forget.

The meeting was held in a science lab classroom at a local university, and when I got there, it was fairly full.  I wandered around, looking at all of the orchids on display - for a "show-and-tell" later, and found out they were having a raffle as well.  They had close to 50 orchids to be raffled off at a dollar a ticket.  People were buying ten to twenty tickets at a time, but when I opened my wallet and I had only four dollars - but I had a strategy.  I bought my tickets, but I waited until most people had made their choices as to which orchid they were trying to win - there were cups next to each one that raffle tickets went into.  Then I went around and tried to put my tickets into only the cups that were empty.  I would have to wait to see whether that strategy would pay off.

The meeting got underway, and they covered club business first.  There was a demonstration of some orchid-cataloging computer software, then a discussion about the best size and type of bark in which to plant orchids - and how much a pallet of it would be if everyone chipped in to buy one.  They finally got to the repotting part of the meeting - they talked about the orchid that everyone was getting, and we just went at it.  There was little discussion on how to actually do it.  After everyone had potted their orchid, they did the show-and-tell like I mentioned before.  Members had brought in their plants to talk about them - there were a lot of great specimens, but it had been about two hours and I was ready for the raffle.

I was a little nervous, because either I would be taking home a lot of orchids...or I wouldn't.  I thought I might win all four orchids, but I didn't want to be that person that shows up for a single meeting and wins a lot and never comes back.  So, drum roll, please...I won 3 out of 4 orchids, and if you add the one I potted up, I brought home four orchids!

They were four different species(?) of orchids - phalaenopsis, cattleya...actually, although a couple of them looked fairly different, two of them were cattleyas.  The fourth was an oncidium - it didn't last very long.  At first I chalked it up to beginner's bad luck, or the fact that it might have different enough growing conditions that it should have been treated differently than the others, but I don't think that was the case.  The leaves died very fast, and from the base toward the tip - the best answer I could find was that it had some kind of virus, and that there was nothing that I could do for it.

It has been close to four months since I brought the orchids home and they are doing fine.  I water them about every two weeks with a little liquid fertilizer and water, and they seem to be doing well.  Now the next thing I need to figure out is how to make them bloom!

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