When you buy an orchid or are given one as a present it will be in full flower. Orchids bloom for a long time, but when they have finally finished many of us are not sure what to do to ensure that their orchid will bloom again. I came across some useful advice on the A Way To Garden website. It is in the form of an interview with Greg Griffis who is the orchid grower for Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
RIGHT ABOUT NOW, countless orchid plants in homes everywhere?plants perhaps gifted to their owners, or others we bought for ourselves on an impulse when in bloom last year?could be coming back into flower?but, um, maybe they aren?t.
Where did we fail?
Is it the wrong orchid for our conditions, or did we do wrong by the right orchid? Oh, dear.
I sought advice from Greg Griffis, the orchid grower for Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, where the annual Orchid Extravaganza runs late January to late March. He gave me an Orchid 101, because I think it?s time we improved our track records.
Greg Griffis?s own orchid history is an inspiration: He first became aware of orchids in 2009. Studying Music Education at?West Chester University, he lived close to Longwood, and attended the 2010 Orchid Show there, where he purchased his first plant.?One plant quickly became 20. Greg was hooked.
He has since worked for Parkside Orchid Nursery, Hilo Orchid Farm in Hawaii, and at the start of 2015, found himself back where it all began: Greg became the orchid grower at Longwood. ?He also teaches the garden?s popular beginning orchid class.
Q. The orchid show at Longwood, the Orchid Extravaganza, takes place late January through late March, so thank you for making time to join me despite all the work on that.? I believe I read that orchids were one the first collections at Longwood, since like ?1922.
A. Yes, they were gifted by one of the relatives of Pierre du Pont?about 2,000 plants in the early 1900s.
Q. Wow. And today there are how many thousands of orchid taxa in the collection, and how many plants?
A. At Longwood we have about 6,100, and are somewhere in the range of 2,000 different taxa.
Q. So 2,000 taxa and 6,100 plants and you?re the Orchid Grower and that means you?re responsible; the buck stops with you.
A. That?s right.
Q. What kinds of things does getting ready for the show involve?it?s got quite lavish displays, not just bring out those orchids, right?
A. Actually our collection only feeds the collection display?which is on year-round. But for the show, we?re bringing in plants from all over the country. We have boxes coming on from Hawaii, deliveries from all over the plant just for the show. We actually just had plants arrive from Taiwan today.
Q. So you?re making archways, and hanging things?you probably won?t tell me ahead of time, but we?ll see soon on the website [or in person; get show ticket details].?
So let?s zoom back down to the home scale. As I said in the introduction, things can go wrong when we bring home the wrong orchids (or any plant!) for our conditions?or when we treat a well-suited plant badly. Before we meet the six orchids we?re all going to buy after hearing this podcast, do you want to give us any general ?before you adopt an orchid?? overall advice?
A. I think the first thing I like telling people is that orchids aren?t hard, they?re just different. Growing orchids requires a different mindset, especially when it comes to watering. People are used to growing plants that grow in soil that stay evenly moist all the time, where orchids like to dry out a little bit between watering, but at the same time don?t want to get desiccated. So that watering is probably the most important part of orchid growing.
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