The Orchid

I have always thought that orchids were hard to care for and hard to grow. Turns out that is kinda incorrect. While the answer to "can anyone make an orchid grow" is probably no, I have found that an orchid is generally like most other house plants. It needs to be repotted when it's root system gets cramped and it likes to be in a well drained pot, much like other plants. 

When I got my orchid, it was a very sad little plant. It's roots were bound and rotting from being over-watered in too small a pot. It's leaves were yellowing and shrivelling. Needless to say it's grown 3 new leaves since it's been with me and three new roots are poking out too.

After I got it, I went online and did some research on how to help it survive. There are tons and tons of forums to read through for information. The best information I got was to repot. Different orchids have different substrates, or soil, that they prefer, and I had no idea what kind mine was (still don't if I'm honest). So first battle, figure out what to buy. I went to Holes Greenhouses up near St Albert. I've been there before and they have a huge Orchid section (which made it easy to look for a similar orchid plant). I bought a bark substrate kit that included moss and instructions on how to repot an orchid and an orchid pot (regular pot with a ton more drainage holes). I also bought some fertilizer (if I've learned anything from my planting experiences, fertilizer helps).

 Fooood!

Fooood!

Now, orchids have a very weird root system. Most house plants' roots are exposed in the earth; tiny white hair-like threads. Orchids roots are surrounded by vegetation, much like a tree root is still surrounded by some kind of bark. Because I am constantly half-assing this gardening thing, I looked up videos on how the repot an orchid. There are literally a million of these videos and all of them essentially say the same thing: Pull off the moss, release the roots, fill the pot with soaked substrate, and place your orchid back topped with damp moss. Easy. 

So I opened up the plastic pot that the orchid was in. Let me tell you, once you smell putrid rotting plant guts you will never be the same person again. Urg. The moss that the orchid has been previously planted in had compressed and rotted into a clump of glorpy mess. Luckily I was doing this repotting outside. With my hands (joy of joys), I separated the moss mess from the ruins of the root system. A lot of the vegetation shell of the roots had rotted away in the moss BUT the hair-like root centres remained intact. I had already got out and soaked my bark substrate from my orchid repotting kit. Mixing it with some regular potting soil, I put some on the bottom of the new, bigger orchid pot. Then all that was left was to plunk down the roots, cover them with more bark/soil substrate and top it off with some damp moss. Done. I fertilized it every two weeks on it's weekly water cycle during the summer. It seemed to enjoy not being rotted to death. 

It still going too! After the repotting, it lost two of it's oldest leaves (which I was worried about until I saw the new roots and leaf growing). After that, it kept growing and growing! I haven't seen any sign of it growing flower stems any time soon but that's fine with me. It will eventually!

Gardening experience. Check!

-Andrea

The Half-Assed Hobbyist