Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Buying Orchids When You Live in the Sticks

Besides the outdoor garden, I like to keep a variety of houseplants. Presently, more than half of these are orchids. Contrary to popular opinion, orchids are not hard to keep. However, buying a variety of orchids is hard to do when the nearest center with an orchid club and decent nurseries is a 4 and 1/2 hour drive away.

A Phalaenopsis getting ready to bloom again. I just propped up this flower spike with a bamboo stick, though I really wish I had more stylish supports for my orchids.

Thus, here are your options in rural Canada:
  • Drive far, far away to a real nursery that sells a variety of orchids, which are actually labelled with their proper names. Carefully transport them along with your bulk food and toilet paper purchases back to your house, preferably not in the back of your pickup truck.
  • Buy at the nearest Wal*mart or grocery store, where you may find a small but nice Phalaenopsis (and nothing else). In case you need orchid potting medium, Wal*mart now sells that too, which saves me another 2 hour drive.
  • Buy orchids on eBay and have them shipped to your rural post office. This is my chosen method and seems to be inexpensive too! I buy only from Canadian sellers, to save the hassles of phytosanitary certificates and delays due to inspections at the border.
Dendrobium nobile "Angel Smile" in foreground:

I suppose this is free advertising, though I don't even know these people, but I just bought a really nice Dendrobium pattaya from eBay seller "Macrovulgaris in the Greenhouse", who is in Surrey, BC. It came in great condition and is definitely flowering-size, as it has some stubs of old flower stems on the tops of its canes. I've bought a few other orchids on ebay and have generally been happy, though NEVER try to buy one in winter time. I had some orchids come looking like wilted yellow compost matter, after some glitch resulting in a November arrival.

These orchids are getting natural light,
while the immature and small non-flowering plants stay under lights in the basement:

Just remember not to buy solely based on the allure of attractive flowers. Read up on orchids and find out their light, humidity, and temperature requirements. I can really only grow orchids indoors, so I only grow ones that do well in indoor environmental conditions. The common moth orchid, Phalaenopsis, is probably ubiquitous in stores because it does well in ordinary house conditions. Otherwise, I have Paphiopedlium "Magic McNavy", and several types of Dendrobiums.

Phalaenopsis, name unknown:

I've never had a Phalaenopsis that didn't rebloom, though one took 2 years to do so. If you are patient and give the orchid good conditions, it will reward you with several months of blooms. I have one that has been blooming continuously since last November! I anticipate more blooms into August.


Anonymous said...

Excellent! your den. nobiles have been blooming ( in a much older post, they had not been blooming)

they look great! do you let your nobiles dry out a bit, or stay evenly moist?(during the drowing season)

Gardenista said...

Once the dendrobium nobiles have any little buds on the sides of the canes, I let them go dry. If I continue watering them, they will just grow a new plant for every bud! Currently, I still water the ones with no flower buds (or full blooming flowers) every few days to keep them moist. I suppose that they produce flower buds mainly due to neglect, whether intentional or not!

easygardener said...

Apart from phalaenopsis I find zygopetalums are also very easy to grow. Mine has a lovely nutmeg fragrance which is an added bonus - though I don't know if they're all scented.

Jeff Hamilton said...

Your new (and old) orchids look great. I've purchased from Macrovulgaris in the Greenhouse before as well and was pleased with the plants I got. I love your NOID phal st the bottom of the post. Why is it that some of the nicest phals are sold as NOID? Love your blog. I posted a picture of one of my NOID phals on my blog recently, if you'd like to see it.

Philip Estenson said...

Great post about orchids and I like the photos. I bookmarked your blog. Thanks for sharing.