I’m sorry

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In January I wrote how I thought I got the hang of growing phalaenopsis. At that time my purple phalaenopsis gifted me with eight beautiful flowers. I was overjoyed. How well would the plant next time, I mused. Maybe eight flowers again? Or even more? Well, I can answer this question now: Three. Three measly flowers. Three! To say that I wasn’t disappointed would be a lie. And I thought things were going so well! The flower stem grew long and strong. Roots were everywhere.

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That was the state when I left to spend some time away. When I returned I saw how the spike began to grow some buds again. Right now it looks like there will be three buds. It’s still less than I was expecting. However, there is a new spike forming so I’m hoping for a better flower count again.

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The Minho Princess look-alike is in spike, too. Last time it took four months for the first flower to open. The plant can take its time but I expect a marvellous flower display!

Phalaenopsis Purple Martin

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As you know from my post here I’ve been dreaming of getting a Phal. Purple Martin. So one weekend I finally took a trip to the local orchid nursery, Orchideen Rehbein, which is run by an elderly woman. The room where Renate Rehbein sells her orchids is tiny, equipped with a few tables on which the plants are displayed. I remember seeing a lot of phalaenopsis, a couple of paphiopedilums and a few masdevallias. There were quite some pretty flowers but my eyes zoomed right in on the Purple Martins. I wanted the strongest plant which means: lots of healthy roots, spikes and buds. Funny enough, after I thought I made my decision, the owner brought out another plant that she kept separate for decorative purposes. It was the best plant out of that bunch. So I bought it.

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The color is amazing! It reminds me of Milka chocolate, that kind of shade. And the dark purple lip is adorable. It does look as if the flower is pouting. Flower size is about 3 cm. One reason why I wanted this hybrid so much was the fragrance. It smells like herbs and a bit spicy but you need to get really close to notice it. On sunny days the scent is stronger but this isn’t a flower that will give you a headache.

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I really want to grow it well so that it will be strong enough to produce lots of spikes and flowers for me. I’ve seen pictures of older plants and they are amazing! Phal. Purple Martin is capable of flowering on several spikes at the same time which is a huge plus in my books.

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Right now I need the plant to adjust to my growing conditions. It sits in a 10 cm clear plastic pot potted in bark, inside a clear glass vase on my windowsill with my other phals. In the picture above you can see that there is  a second spike forming buds which really makes me really excited. And just like my other phalaenopsis root growth has kicked in.

Phal. Minho Princess look-alike in full bloom

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The Phal. Minho Princess look-alike is in full bloom now. Doesn’t it look absolutely stunning? When I bought the phalaenopsis last summer I knew it would look really pretty in full bloom. But as I wrote before that didn’t happen. So this is the first time I’ve seen it with every flower open and it’s better than I could have ever imagined. I love how the flowers cascade down and create movement for the eye to follow. I will definitely stick to not staking the spikes.

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The back is really pretty, too. At first the color is a faint green shade which later turns into a soft pink. The striping is much more noticeable from the back, too. This flowering taught me that you don’t necessarily need a fancy setup like growing under lights or RO water or special fertilizers in order to get a nice display of flowers. Just a windowsill, plain tap water and a basic fertilizer.

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When one of the buds opened up I was surprised to see that the flower looked different from the others. There was much more striping! I’ve seen such irregularities on orchid forums but never in person. It’s quite  interesting, isn’t it? At some point the plant got a bit confused, I think.

First rebloom of Phal. Minho Princess look-alike

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In 136 days the spike went from being a tiny nub to a fully grown spike with ten buds and one bloom. Those were 136 days well spent because I fell in love with this plant all over again.

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The flower is gorgeous. Cream background color with faint and bold purple stripes, which look like brush strokes. Yellow splashes on the lip. So gorgeous. I can see why someone named a similar looking hybrid “Minho Princess”. It’s definitely a princess.

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It’s the first flowering since I bought this plant which is always interesting. When you buy a phalaenopsis in bloom it’s usually the very first flowering of the plant which means the flower count, size and shape can change. In addition it has been grown in a greenhouse with better conditions than you could ever achieve at home. Due to young age of the orchid and the change in growing conditions the first flowering at your place will be different.

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Compared to the first flowering the flower count is lower (11 vs. 14). However, the flower size improved (8,4 cm vs. 7,7 cm) which is great. Next time I’m hoping for a higher flower count and more branching. That would be nice. I didn’t stake the spike because I like the unstaked look better. There is something utterly elegant and breathtaking about a branch of blooms arching away from the plant. I can’t wait to see the plant in full bloom, it will be a beautiful sight.

Are you starving your orchid?

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So this post is overdue. You see, I took the pictures two weeks ago and now every bud but one has opened.  Since I’m keeping a data sheet for my orchids I could track the time it took for each bud to open. The first flower opened on 22/11/13, two months ago. And right now there’s still one bud left! I can’t remember if it always took that long to flower.

But I can tell for sure that I’ve never had so many flowers on this phalaenopsis. Maximum count was five. This time there are eight gorgeous flowers for me to enjoy. That’s three more than usual! I’m taking a guess here and say, it has to do with my new watering and fertilizing routine.  I used to be really scared of overwatering, so I waited until I was really sure that the potting medium was dried out. And watering consisted of drizzling a small amount of water into the pot. I was even more scared of fertilizing. I have this cheap general liquid fertilizer for houseplants (the cheapest I could find) and the instruction on it says to mix one cap (25 mL) of fertilizer with 3 L water. Well, three liters are way too much and you could really only measure 25 mL, so I had to guess the amount I needed. And since I’m such a scaredy cat, I also seldom fertilized.

To put in into a nutshell, I starved the poor plant. Not so badly that it would die but it certainly couldn’t flourish. Researching phalaenopsis on the web helped me a lot to improve my care. I began to use the skewer method: Have a skewer/wooden stick in the potting medium (best in the middle) so that it will be as damp as the medium. The medium is dry when the skewer is dry to touch and not cold. This method helped me to decide when to water. You can’t say: I water weekly all year. There are several factors that influence the speed with which the potting medium dries out: the current needs of the plant, temperature, airflow, light level etc. For instance, last summer I had to water every four days whereas now I can wait up to three weeks.

In addition, I became more confident with fertilizing. The first thing I did was to buy a small plastic syringe (5 mL) from the local pharmacist. I then calculated the amount of fertilizer I needed. Since I wanted to feed each time I water, the fertilizer had to be diluted. I chose to use 1/8 of the amount instructed on the label which is 0,5 mL fertilizer mixed with 500 ml tap water.

This all resulted in more frequent watering and feeding which I’d like to think benefits my orchids. Of course, it could also have nothing to do with my new care routines. Maybe since the plant is older now it can grow more flowers?

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Moving on to my other orchid. Back in November last year I discovered a new growth in a leaf axis and assumed it to be a spike. Well, as it turns out I was right! However, I’ve forgotten how much time it takes to grow a new spike. Patience will never be my strength.

Great week for phalaenopsis

It has been a busy week for my phals:

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The small phal bloomed! And I totally forgot how deep the color is. Look how dark the lip is! It’s so adorable. I was quite surprised when I came back from vacation in October and saw that the spike reactivated and grew several buds.  This plant had this year’s first bloom in July so I wasn’t expecting new buds so quickly after that. You can still see the first flower of the last bloom. Such a hard worker.

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Besides growing buds it’s also working on a new leaf. It’s taking it very slow though. I noticed the new leaf at the end of August. So it has been almost three months and it’s still so small? I guess it’s putting all energy into the flowers.

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For the last couple of months the bottom leaves have slowly turned yellow and dry and then dropped. At first I wasn’t concerned but now it’s probably the fourth leaf. Is this still normal? However, the roots look fine to me. Since a new leaf is growing I will sit back and observe.

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I believe that my other phal is a Minho Princess lookalike. The flowers look very similar. Of course I will never know for sure since this plant came without an ID and I don’t even know which nursery it’s from.  This is one drawback of buying orchids at a big box store. On the other hand, they are super cheap there.

My Minho Princess lookalike hasn’t slacked off, either. I bought it in bloom in June and at the end of August it started growing a new leaf. Compared to the other phal it had a head start of one week but look how big the leaf already is!

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In addition, I discovered a growth in a leaf axis this week. I’m pretty sure it’s a spike since this would be an odd place to grow a new root. So exciting! It probably will take a few months until the flowers appear. This will be the first bloom since I got it so it’s special to me. The roots have been doing good, too.

Orchid bug: 1. Me: 0.

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It’s over. The orchid bug has gotten hold of me. I tried to resist it for as long as I could but with a mother whose windowsill is brimming with those plants and with my fondness of flowers, the outcome was predictable. I stood no chance. How could I when these little buggers come in so many shapes and colors?

I’m particularly drawn to phalaenopsis. Especially the ones with unusual colors and patterns. I don’t care for the plain white ones or the ones which are white with a pink lip. I find them quite boring. But picotee or deep color make my heart sing!

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Right now I’m quite enamored by the Doritaenopsis Purple Martin. It’s a phal with lavender flowers. Purple and blue are my favorite colors, so this color is perfect! And that’s not all. The flowers are fragrant and it seems like the plant stays in bloom for a long time! I’ve been looking up a few nurseries that sell Dtps. Purple Martin online and it’s way more affordable than I expected. The only downside is the fact that most nurseries demand a minimal purchase order value. And the Purple Martin sells for less than that so most nurseries add a low order fee. And I would have to pay shipping, too. Not to mention the hassle with actually being home and receiving the package. I heard horror stories where the mailman just gives the package to someone in the same building without informing the adresser. I think I’m going to wait till next spring and buy one at the local nursery if they have it. Just need to be patient…