Brooklyn Orchids

Keeping the Faith

The Orchid That Won’t Die now looks like this:

Orchid nubbin
This poor thing is just a nubbin
Orchid on its last leg
Is there any hope??

When I came back from vacation three weeks ago, this little phal was showing real signs of turning around: a new leaf, the slightest hint of a new root. Shortly thereafter, the largest leaf died off so I removed it. That turned out to be a mistake, because the root seemed to have been growing from the base of that leaf. The plant was then left with one small leaf plus the new leaf that had begun to sprout while I was in San Diego.

A couple days ago I noticed that the small leaf was shriveling and turning yellow, and then began to mold. So this morning I removed that leaf, and the plant – if you can even call it that anymore – is what you see in the photos above. The reddish-brown stuff along the edge of the leaf is cinnamon, which I applied to the area that I removed. Cinnamon has antibacterial properties and should help prevent infections.

This poor orchid is so far gone that I sorta can’t believe I’m even still trying. But as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve given this orchid so many chances that I’m not going to give up until it’s finally, officially dead. It seems pretty close, but you never know. Amazingly, I have faith!

At least I have more good news on the Oncidium front: my Twinkle Fragrance Fantasy is sprouting a second spike! In the photo below, you can see it starting to poke out from the large leaf on the left:

New Oncidium spike
Second new spike on this Oncidium!

I’m curious to see how long it takes for this plant to put out blooms after it throws out a spike. You know I will be posting updates here as I get closer to seeing the flowers!  🙂

An Oncidium in Spike!

I was just misting my orchids with water when I noticed that my Oncidium Twinkle ‘Fragrance Fantasy’ is in spike!! Apparently I haven’t been paying close enough attention to this one, because the spike is already about one and a half or two inches tall. You can kinda see the spike peeking up out of the center of the plant in this photo (click to enlarge):

Oncidium Twinkle 'Fragrance Fantasy' in spike
My first Oncidium is in spike!

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Meet My Newest Orchids

Last week I gave in to the lure of 20% off orchids at Orchids by Hausermann and ordered four more beauties to add to my collection. On Friday afternoon, my newest additions arrived!! They all look like they’re in good shape, and one of them even has a small spike growing! Click on the photos below to see larger versions.

Newest Orchid Additions!
From L to R: Encyclia cochleata, Phal hieroglyphica, Huntleya heteroclita, Phal violacea

The Encyclia cochleata is the largest of the four, and it’s still a pretty small plant, about 10″ tall at most. Here’s a closer look at it:

Encyclia cochleata
My Encyclia cochleata

The Huntleya heteroclita is so much smaller than I expected. Huntleyas are in the same family as Zygopetalums, and the two Zygos in my collection are literally about 10 times larger than this Huntleya! It may just be a seedling, I’m actually not sure. But it’s a cutie:

Huntleya heteroclita
Teeny Huntleya heteroclita

The smallest of my new orchids, however, is the Phalaenopsis violacea, which arrived in a 2″ pot:

Phal violacea
Adorable Phal violacea

Last but not least is the Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica, which has a small spike growing from its base! I will be SO THRILLED if this plant blooms soon!!

Phal hieroglyphica
Phal hieroglyphica

You can see the little mitten-shaped spike in this close-up:

Phal hieroglyphica spike
Phal hieroglyphica spike!

I haven’t repotted any of my new orchids yet (BAD!!) but I am going to do so this week to make sure all is ok with the plants’ roots.

In other news, this morning I finally bought a thermometer/humidity meter for my Orchid Room so that I can actually start to monitor these things; I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile! Already, I see that the humidity in the room is just over 50% so I think I’m going to get a small humidifier.

How to Identify a New Orchid Root vs. Flower Spike

Something is poking out of the base of your orchid plant. Is it a new root, or—even more exciting—a flower spike? It can be hard to tell the difference, especially for orchid beginners. In a Phalaenopsis orchid, both roots and spikes are usually green when they begin to emerge, which makes it that much harder to distinguish the two.

I’ve found that with orchids, the easiest way to learn is with our eyes. So, I write bearing visual aids.

The long silvery thing in this first photo is a healthy, dry root. And the small green nub you see to the right of the long silvery root is a new root beginning to poke out from the plant stem. New Phalaenopsis roots usually appear with a green tip, and as they grow longer they will become silvery near the base of the plant. If you click the photo to view the larger version, you will see there are actually two new roots coming in – the green one on the right that I already mentioned, and a second one just above the longer silver root.

New orchid root
New phalaenopsis orchid root

This next photo shows a brand new flower spike growing out of the base of another one of my Phalaenopsis orchids. It’s a slightly brighter green and a tad flattened, with what looks almost like a tiny mitten at the tip. It’s this mitten shape that, for me, is what most easily distinguishes a root from a spike.

New orchid spike
New phalaenopsis orchid spike

In the third photo you can see both a new root (silver, on the left) and a new spike (green mitten, on the right).

New phalaenopsis orchid root and spike
New phalaenopsis orchid root and spike

Cool, huh? I’m always excited to see ANY new growth on my orchids – whether it be a new root, spike, or leaf – because new growth is a sign of a happy and healthy plant. Of course I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more spikes, because that means MORE FLOWERS! but I’ll take new roots too. Growing orchids at home sure is a good way to strengthen your patience muscle.

Updated to add: I receive many questions from readers about orchids that have leaves and roots growing off of the spike. These are called keikis (baby orchids), and they can be viable plants on their own once their roots grow long enough. I have written a separate post about keikis and what to do with them. Read all about keikis here. 

P.S. For another great source of information about how to successfully grow orchids, I recommend signing up for a [Affiliate Link] free Orchids Made Easy newsletter from Ryan “The Orchid Guy.” He brings tons of tips and advice straight to your inbox, every day!

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