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Orchids Again, but Wrapped in Dog

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You may remember my blog from last November, when I picked a sultry warm day and repotted every durn one of my orchids, spread 'em out on the front lawn and about kilt myself bending and stretching and fetching and washing and spraying.

Normally, you shouldn't have to repot an orchid more than once a year. But I had bugs. Lotsa bugs. Tiny white bugs aswarm in the medium and awful awful Boisduval scale and mealybugs around the base of the stem and regular goopy sticky scale all over the underside of the leaves. It was verging on horrible. By the time an orchid starts to look peaked from bug damage (mostly being sucked dry by scale), you had better jump to fix it. Mine were not yet looking peaked, but I wasn't going to wait for that. See, they talk to me and tell me when it's time to intervene.


Last November, I repotted most of my plants in mixed bark medium, and therein lay the problem. Bugs just love living in that stuff. I decided to knock every single plant out of its pot and take a hard look at the situation. Sure enough, the plants in bark all had bugs, and the plants in Aussie Gold, which has diatomaceous earth in it, were virtually bug-free. OK. I had ordered enough Gold to redo almost everybody, and I went for it. Thirty-two times. Sigh. There are thirty-two of them.

There followed three days of futzing around with orchids, capped by a washing and spraying extravaganza. I won't use anything stronger than pyrethrins, which is probably why I continue to have bugs. Fine. I'll continue to have bugs, and I won't croak young.


There was orchid medium dumped everywhere, hoses and bags and trays and was ridiculous. But the weather was glorious for it all--raining and warm--and nobody got sunburned, least of all me. I just sat out there in the rain soaked to the skin and dealt with it. Enjoyed myself, in a painful, back-breaking kind of way.


The sun finally broke through, but by then everyone was potted and taken back inside.
I think the hardest part of any job is cleaning up everything you've pulled out while doing it. Blaa. You want it to be over, and then there's cleanup.


Mether, I get very tired just watching you. You are never still, do you know that? You should nap more. Look at me. I nap all the time and I think everyone would agree I am more lovable than you.


Chet Baker, what kind of thing is that to say?


Forgive me, Mether. It's just that you have been diddling with your orchid plants for three days now and you have barely done anything with me. When will you be all done?


When the last plant is washed and sprayed and potted in sterile medium, Chet Baker, that's when I'll be done. But you know I love you more than all these orchids thrown together. Don't you?

Yes, Mether. And I also know that your readers find me much more lovable than orchids. I am the whole reason they put up with your plant stories. And I would add "hamster stories" to that.


Well, all right, Chet. You've got me there.


That dog is wise beyond his years...

Lovely orchids! Is that Begonia "Bonfire" on the pedestal? I have one for the first time this year and I'm really enjoying it. Nothing like watching a new plant grow well throughout the summer!

"Bonfire" it is, Deb, and it was my Plant of the Year last year. I grew this plant from the TUBER left from last year's plant. Yes. A softball-sized tuber lay there after frost took the plant. I was flabbergasted. I guess I'd never thought it would be a tuberous begonia. I stored it in the basement in a cool spot and started it back up in the greenhouse in March. I will say that it has never had the large leaves that last year's plant had; it isn't quite as spectacular, but that could be due to the growing conditions, temperature. I don't know. I find them hard to start from cuttings. Everything will look fine for a few days and then bam, it wilts.
Although I snuck a cutting of a SALMON one at a greenhouse and it rooted! Next year it should be spectacular.

What a coincidence...I just returned from my friend Mary's greenhouse, we were unpacking 50 orchid plants from Carter and Holmes ordered by Black Hills Orchid Society. Some individual orders and Society's plants for the Orchid Festival to be held next week at our local Fair.
It was like Christmas, and thankfully none needed to be potted.
What fun to come home and find your orchid post.
Mary's personal order was for an in spike psycopsis, I hope it turns out as neat as yours.

Psychopsis mendenhall is the Giving Tree of orchids. Mine has had 11 flowers in 14 months, a never-ending cascade of joy. This is why I work so hard to keep them healthy--they repay and repay.

Oooh--a tuber! Good thing it is pouring rain or I'd be outside digging in my pot. Hope I can resist till fall! I'm intrigued by the thought of pinching at the garden center...

Poor, patient, neglected Chet. (Is sighing part of the performance?)

He doesn't sigh, but he does this thing with his tongue--sticks it out and then draws it back in, just once--that cracks us up.

Chet is very mistaken about the hamster stories. It made my day to imagine a sweet little hamster that cuddles and falls asleep on people.

As of 11:24 PM Eastern Daylight Time I see nothing but big white empty boxes where (I presume) pictures of orchids and a dog would be expected.

I wouldn't be surprised if you found a diploma from the Chaplin School of Pathos tucked in with his AKC papers.

(Howza bout this word verification: hypergro)

poor, sweet Chet. He sure knows how to pour on the guilt, doesn't he?


I am exhausted just READING about it Julie! Whew! Congratulations on getting it all done. :c)

julie,what species of orchid would be the right choice for a beginer and can you recommend any good sources of info in getting started?thanks~!

Hi Laurie,

It's hard to go wrong with a phalaenopsis. It's the one with the huge oval leaves, it's the one you see in Lowe's with the long stalk with big roundish flowers on it. My first orchid book was by Ortho, and I think it's called Growing Orchids. Great book.
There is a lot of orchid culture information in some of my former posts. Try typing orchid into the search box and see what comes up.
The American Orchid Society web site is fabulous. Lovely information on individual genera and their culture requirements.
Good luck!

Delicious photos! One of these days I'm going to give in to my temptation to get one of those Home Depot orchids. Wonder where that thought came from, hmmmm? :)

Can I just say how fantastic it is to see this whole process unfold, mess and all? I love Martha (you know the one), but in her world this project would look so much easier and cleaner and well, then we'd all feel so inferior. Anytime I venture out to my little flower pots or garden I end up a mess. As it should be.

Thanks as always Julie!

Everything's better wrapped in Bacon.

Thank you, Jen, for reminding me what drives me crazy about Martha's how-to's. Everything is bathed in white light and everything is so darn clean; the countertops are spotless and there's no lime crust on her flower pots or algae in her trays. Whereas mine are gross and stanky and smell of patchouli and must be scrubbed every couple of months. And I spread crap everywhere when I work. And I am not standing at a waist high countertop in a starched white blouse and matching gloves, but am wearing my oldest tissue-thin T-shirt and fat shorts (so I can squat and groan, bend and suffer).

Waak! My dad used to wrap hamburgers in bacon before grilling them. Then sharp cheddar cheese on top. mmmm.

hee sure did tire me out! I'm with Chet..will take a nap now.
Great story...thanks Chet!

Oh Julie, my back and knees are hurting just reading about your 3 days of orchid repotting efforts. You need a little drop-down potting workbench so all of this and be done without bending over. Then you'll only have to bend over to pet Chet.

I'm a new reader and fan. FYI, that dog that Chet couldn't tell if it was a skunk or a cat was a Japanese Chin. I know, I have two. Often mistaken for a pekinese. Old breed, born and bred for no other purpose than to be adored. So many laugh out loud moments in your blog! My daughter has 3 Bostons and THEM THINGS ARE HYPER!

Thanks for leaving a comment, LateBloomer. And thanks for the enlightenment on the Japanese Chin! I must, however, correct your grammar.

Them things IS hyper

is the proper way to say it. Glad to know you and your daughter are surrounded by good dog love.

Great to see your dog..Its very nice i guess..thanks for sharing with us..

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Remember comic books? He should have his own.

Hello Miss Julie,
I stumbled upon your blog while googling Boston Terrier images. It's a delight. I enjoy your way with words, and due to them, I am reviewing my opinion of birds. Mostly (of course) I enjoy the Chet Baker perspectives. They are so similar with those of my Boudicca (The Boo for short). You said in one of your previous entries that you would like to populate the world with Boston Terriers. I get that. Thank you.

Posted by Anonymous August 28, 2009 at 4:27 PM

Julie, I am a first time Orchid owner. My sister sent a lovely arrangement of about 10 orchids in one basket. Great sister, don't you think? I am about to re-pot them. They are no longer flowering and the paperwork said to re-pot after flowers are all gone. My question is does each flower need it's own pot? Also, I noticed that your pots don't have holes on the sides. I take it that is not necessary. Any tips for me?? Thanks, Renee

Wow. Your sister must really love you, Renee. Yes, each plant needs its own pot. You have an instant collection. I'd recommend figuring out what kinds of orchids you have ASAP because different orchids have different light and care requirements. The American Orchid Society web site is a great resource. No, you don't need fancy slotted pots. I use plastic because it's easy to get it off the sticky roots, and you can cut the pots if necessary. Clay's awful for that--you can injure the plant trying to get it out of the pot.
If you have an assortment, try Googling images of Phalaenopsis and Dendrobium orchids. They're probably the most likely types to be in a mix like that. Good luck!

Julie, It just so happens that you are correct. Those are the two types of plants I have. I have a few pots with holes but need a few more so I think I will try the plastic ones. I will check out the AOS web site. My older sister and my mother got similar arrangements with just as many plants. I will share with them your comments. Thanks for your help.

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