Update on Phal Rescue Attempt

Remember awhile back when I tried the ‘sphag-n-bag’ method of rescuing a Phalaenopsis orchid, but aborted the effort after a couple of days? After I had removed the orchid from the bag, I potted it in a terracotta pot with sphagnum moss. Based on the advice I got on the Orchid Board, I then decided that the orchid would be better off potted in something that would get better air flow, so I bought a black plastic net pot like this:

The pot only cost me $.80 at a local gardening supply store. Win!

I took the risk of repotting the poor plant yet again (I had been effing with it a lot lately) and placed it into the net pot with moist sphagnum moss. It’s been doing ok like this for the past few weeks – at least, no turn for the worse – and just the other day I inspected it to see if there was any new root growth. Lo and behold, I found a tiny green nubbin at the base of the crown, so it appears that a new root is growing! I may have saved this poor sad plant after all.

I hope I haven’t jinxed the orchid’s health by posting about it just now. More updates to come, whether good or bad.

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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Sphag-n-Bag Abort!

Last week I shared what led to my first Phal rescue attempt via sphag-n-bag. This is how it looked five days after going into the bag:

Orchid sphag-n-bag

Yeah, not so good, huh? One of the leaves started turning yellow which is certainly not a good sign.  The sphagnum already appeared kind of dried out but I wasn’t sure if I should open the bag to moisten it. The instructions had said to “place it in a warm, shady location and walk away.”

I headed over to the Orchid Board and asked for some advice – the members over there have always been really helpful to me in the the past. I posted a couple photos and the first response that came in said to take my Phal out of the bag right away, that it didn’t look like it needed to be sphagged-n-bagged in the first place. Then Ray himself from First Ray‘s chimed in and agreed, suggesting that my orchid just looks like it’s not getting the water it needs.

With that advice in mind, I took the orchid out of the bag, removed the yellow leaf, then potted it up with sphagnum moss. I placed it in a smaller pot than before since the root system is so small.  It’s probably not a good idea for me to be messing so much with this poor little plant, so I’m going to leave it alone for awhile and hope that it starts to develop some heartier roots.

More updates to come!

Rescuing an Orchid: Sphag-n-Bag

Last summer I bought a Phalaenopsis at Ikea in Red Hook that turned out to be 2 plants potted together. It took me a couple weeks to realize that there were actually 2 orchids because I didn’t immediately check the roots or repot them. I had read online that planting 2 orchids together is not recommended, so I split them up.

One of the orchids has been doing really well. Bloomed for a month or so, rested for awhile, then produced side shoots and bloomed again. Here’s how it looks today:

Phalaenopsis in bloom

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Choose Orchids for a Long-Lasting Valentine Gift

Are you looking for a last-minute gift for your loved one today? Consider an orchid. Sure, a dozen red roses are THE thing to get your Valentine, but roses wilt and die so quickly. Orchids can last for years if you treat them right – and they aren’t nearly as hard to care for as some people think.

Stop by your local Trader Joe’s, Home Depot, Ikea, or florist and they will likely have some phalaenopsis orchids to choose from. Phals are the easiest orchids to grow in the home. Bonus: they can be a whole lot cheaper than a bunch of roses! TJs, for example, sells many beautiful orchids for under $20. I got this pretty fuchsia phal at Ikea for $15 last spring and it has already produced side shoots and rebloomed for me:

Valentine's Day Orchid

Share the orchid love on Valentine’s Day and you’ll be rewarded for months (and maybe years) to come!

Welcome to Brooklyn Orchids

Pink Vanda Orchid
Vanda blooming at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I’ve been obsessing about orchids for about a year now and I’m still a total newbie.  I love orchids so much that I decided to start a blog about them – and here we are. I’ll be sharing photos (my own & others’), information, links, things I’ve learned, and stories about my own orchids as I try my very hardest not to kill them.

A little bit about me: I’ve been living in NYC since December 2002. Currently, I live in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn and have been in my apartment for a little over a year. My apartment gets really great southern exposure so it has been a good environment for growing orchids. Right now, I am the proud owner of nine orchids (I’ll post photos & info about each of these separately):

  • Five phalaenopsis – two from Ikea, one from Home Depot, one from Trader Joe’s, one from a vendor at the Union Square Greenmarket (I *think* it’s Fantastic Gardens, need to find out for sure)
  • One oncidium from TJs
  • Two dendrobium – one from TJs, one from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • One odontoglossom from the BBG

My kill count is two, my first orchids ever (both phals).  🙁  I don’t think either of them were healthy when I bought them, because I didn’t know what to look for when buying orchids. I’ve learned a lot since then and most of my orchids seem to be doing well now!

I’m really looking forward to writing about orchids and sharing my passion for them. I hope you enjoy this blog and I’d love to hear your orchid stories in the comments.