Manhattan’s Garden District is Orchid Mecca

Paradise Plants White Phal
Photo credit: paradiseplantsny.com

I didn’t even know that Manhattan had a Garden District until a fellow orchid-loving friend recently enlightened me. Yesterday morning I found myself in midtown Manhattan for a doctor’s appointment and decided that I would check out the Garden District afterward, as it was nearby. And behold, I found a whole slew of garden shops on W. 28th St. between 6th and 7th Aves – some of which almost exclusively sell orchids! Holy moly, was I in heaven!!

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New Orchids: To Repot or Not? That is the Question

Most orchid nerds will tell you that you should repot any brand new orchid almost as soon as you bring it home. This is recommended so that you can take a good look at the orchid’s root system and cut away any rotten roots (see my post on identifying healthy vs. unhealthy roots). Conversely, you may find a really nice set of roots like these:

Healthy Phalaenopsis orchid roots
Photo credit: velvetdahlia, Flickr

You may have also heard not to repot an orchid while it’s in bloom. So, what exactly are you supposed to do with these two conflicting pieces of advice when you bring home a new orchid that is in bloom, like my latest orchid purchase?

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Great Ikea Find: Lady Slipper Orchid

Along with the month of March came a lovely day in Brooklyn: sunny with temperatures in the 40s (as I type this my weather widget says it’s 49 degrees)! I’ve been hibernating in my apartment a lot because of all the shitty weather we’ve been having—February 2010 broke the record for snowiest month ever in NYC. Ugh, all this white stuff is not for me. So when I got up this morning and realized how nice it was outside, I decided to take a long stroll—something I haven’t done in awhile.

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To Do: Queens Botanical Garden

I just now discovered that there is a Queens Botanical Garden. I’ve lived in New York City for more than eight years and I didn’t know this! I actually found out on Twitter; this morning I started following @NewYorkology and they had re-tweeted (re-twatted?) a post from @queensbotanicl about being closed today due to the snow.

The QBG comprises 39 acres of land in Flushing, about an eight block walk from the last stop on the 7 train. That neighborhood is quite a hike to get to if you don’t live in Queens (I just made a trek out that way earlier this week to go to Spa Castle) but if you jump on a 7 express you’ll get there a whole lot faster.

Admission is free until March 31, 2010; they’re going to start charging adults $4 on April 3. Seniors will pay $3 and students with a valid I.D. will pay $2. Four dollars is really cheap for admission to any attraction in the NYC area, so I wouldn’t mind paying a bit to check it out – especially when plants will be starting to bloom!

Greenies will be excited to hear that the garden has a composting project that offers information and education about the process. The garden doesn’t appear to have an orchid collection, but that’s not going to stop me from visiting. Once the weather warms up I’m going to check the QBG out and will report back here.

How to Identify Healthy vs. Unhealthy Roots

Roots are the basis of any orchid plant. It’s very important for your orchid to have a robust root system; the orchid takes in water and nutrients through its roots which in turn allows the whole plant to grow, thrive, and ultimately put out those beautiful blooms.

First I’ll take a moment to show you what roots look like on the most common orchid, the Phalaenopsis (aka moth orchid). Phal roots, when healthy and moist, are a nice green color, like so:

Healthy wet orchid root

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My Recent BBG Visit and Orchid Purchases

One of the best parts of Funemployment is having the opportunity to take advantage of deals like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden‘s Free Winter Weekdays (which ends March 2). Once I discovered I could visit without paying a dime I knew I HAD to go see their orchid collection, which is in bloom between November and March. The orchid collection is located in the Aquatic House portion of the Steinhardt Conservatory, which I had somehow completely bypassed during my previous BBG visits.

So a couple weeks ago I made my way to the BBG, armed with my fully charged digital camera. I was the only visitor inside the Aquatic House at the time and it was so peaceful to have the whole place to myself. The house isn’t all that big, but there are a ton of orchid plants inside and it is definitely tropical in there; I had to take my puffy winter coat off immediately. There were plenty of Vandas in bloom:

Purple Vanda orchid

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