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The Bursting Bud-Emergence

Thursday, May 13, 2010

First bloom of a young orchid, or any orchid, is not a speedy process. What fun would instant gratification be, anyway? Orchid fanciers learn to enjoy the journey. It helps to have a lot of orchids so that when one's journey slows down or stalls altogether (hear that, Donna?) you can switch your fickle affections to one that's doin' its thing for you.

Another ten days down the road. The scales on the bud hint at multiple flowers to come. Squeeee! Now I'm wondering if it's going to bloom precisely when it would were it living in Guatemala. How cool would that be? Clearly, I have weeks to wait before finding out--this photo was taken in the last week of January. Slowly I turn, step by step (you have to say that in a Daffy Duck voice).

February 3, 2010: I'm having such fun with this post, photographing the plant as it changes. I've no idea when to expect flowers. I've been watching this bud for so long I can hardly imagine the day when its flowers will open and start emanating that heavenly scent in my very own bedroom.

March 1, 2010: It's really cooking now. I fantasize that each little kink and scale on the spike will resolve into a bud and then a flower. I'm misting it several times a day and at night before I go to bed. It's kind of like boiling water when someone is in labor. It's something I can do that seems helpful.

The spike elongates and miraculously differentiates into separate buds. Here it is on April 20, 2010.

By April 28, it's starting to open.
pop pop pop

The color deepens and even more flowers open
and along about 10 AM that heavenly muguet/carnation/paradise perfume, barely remembered from a roadside in highland Guatemala, begins to emanate

and it fills up the room until about 1 when the sun is no longer warming the flowers

but even after that you can catch a whiff until nightfall when it rests and girds itself for the next day of beauty and fragrance.

It surely favors its mother.

Not to be outdone, the little Encyclia cordigera alba plant I bought to tide me over decides to open on exactly the same day as its big purple cousin.
Just to show me, it pumps out a perfume that's even spicier than the purple one's.

I fall in love with it, too, and apologize to it for ever thinking it wouldn't be just as lovely and fragrant as its cousin from far away.

My orchids aren't really so much plants as members of the family, friends who bring me joy. My bedroom looks like a sale table at an orchid show. I bring practically everyone who enters the house in to see them; they're just too wonderful not to share.
We all have days when nothing seems to be as it should.

It's good to have a place to go where everyone is happy and thriving, where abundance and beauty are the order of the day. To to receive affirmation in the sight and scent of well-grown plants; know that this, at least, is something you've done right.


Thanks so much for this post Julie! I've never had an orchid before and never understood the excitement of them. Next trip to town will find me buying my first orchid!

I am always amazed when I see people's orchids blooming up a storm. I can keep orchids alive but they refuse to rebloom for me. I gave one to a friend that has a greenhouse and she called me about a year later to come by and see the orchid I gave her blooming up a storm. Sigh~~ I will just have to admire them from afar.

I hear you, Lisa. Maybe your conditions aren't what the orchids need. But I think it's also important to keep in mind that the time frame with orchid rebloom is months and sometimes years. I waited four and a half years for this particular little dream to come true. And was happy in the waiting, knowing it would be worth it. See, that's why you need a whole bunch of 'em.

Oh, what a beauty! Would you mind a couple of questions about orchids? I bought a phaleanopsis (sp?) at Thanksgiving and it is still blooming, having elongated one of the bloom spikes and then put off another shoot from the same bloom spike. Does this mean it likes where it is? It's sitting in a south window shaded by pecan and ash trees. I'm in Phoenix so they don't get direct sun in that window. I soak it deeply once a week and plan to repot it after it's done blooming, is that correct? Thanks for any insite you want to share. If you don't want to share, that's cool, too! ;0)

Hi Marty,

Sounds to me like you're doing everything right. Congratulations on the elongated spike that keeps on blooming! I have two doing that now, too. Keep in mind that south windows, which are blazing hot in winter and must be shaded by Venetian blinds or curtains, can (ironically) be the darkest of all in summer when the sun's overhead and not slanting in. And a south window that's shaded by trees is darker yet. Your orchid might not get enough light there. I like an east window best of all. I think my south-window orchids do so well in summer because there's also an east window in the (fairly small) room, so they get indirect light from that. Even so, I sense that they just kind of hang on until fall when the sun starts slanting in those south windows again.
Yes, repot after bloom, and don't be afraid to cut the spike off when all the flowers fade so the plant forms a nice new one. This is true of most orchids except Psychopsis!

Thanks, Julie! I have an east window in my sewing room so I'll see if I can set something up in there after it's done blooming. I'll be glad to repot it since it's in a tee-tiny pot and just looks really crowded. I was wondering about cutting off the bloom spike. It has a second spike that is devoid of blooms so I'll cut that off now. Thanks for the quick reply, I appreciate it muchly! I also like the idea of "a whole bunch of 'em." Sounds right to me!

Hmm. Second spike devoid of blooms: you might want to wait on cutting that one off. (No biggie if you already have). When an orchid isn't getting enough light, sometimes it will send up a spike which, instead of flowers, develops a little plantlet called a keiki. A little set of leaves will grow, and roots will grow right out of the keiki, and eventually when it's got enough roots you can cut it off and pot it up and you've got a clone of your orchid. I've gotten a couple of orchids that way, from suffering plants given to me by friends.

A blossomless spike is a cry for help from the orchid. Hoping for a better world for its children than it has had itself. :-) Yes, ready that east window!

I wouldn't have felt so special if I'd known that you bring EVERYBODY to your bedroom.

Wow. I think I need to start buying some plants to grow around the house.

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