Orchid Revival

I’m one of those softies that walk by the floral department in the grocery store and see these beautiful blooms calling my name. I have very little experience with them, but the price has been right for a few years now.

The common “grocery store” orchid is likely in the genus phalaenopsis, also called the Moth Orchid. That’s what I have, and it’s the only orchid I’m discussing here. I’m still no expert, but I have revived my orchids from near death, thanks to YouTuber Michael from Michael’s Orchids. He is an orchid aficionado and has many wonderful how-to videos for the beginner.

When I redesigned my new kitchen, I had a window sill expanded to hold some small pots. They were supposed to be for starting herbs before repotting in larger pots, but it quickly became a home for one orchid, two orchid, three orchid, more.

I will note that the first thing many orchid growers will point out is that my orchids “shouldn’t be on a window that gets morning sun.” My windows are Pella 350s – triple pane, green glazed, highly insulated, energy efficient windows that block 86% of the sun’s rays. And while I sound like a commercial (I get no benefit from this shout-out), I became such a fan of this window that I put them through my entire house. I simply mention this because when I do projects, I’m often asked what supplies I’ve used. Plus, my orchids like their home here.

I had tried some orchids years before in my sun room when they were much pricier, but they died a few months after bringing them home. I didn’t bother much to learn how to care for them. The results were obvious.

“Grocery store orchid” prices dropped significantly, and they started calling my name again. When I bought the current batch, I thought I could keep them alive for a few months, and my kitchen would look like it belonged in a magazine. The orchids would probably die, and I’d go back to the original plan of herbs on the sill. When they had gone through a second bloom, I realized I may have a chance and purchased some fancy orchid pots that went with the kitchen theme.

But these orchids seemed to like their space for only about a year. I had learned enough on how to water and fertilize, but that was about it. The orchids began to suffer. All the leaves were droopy and wrinkled, so I started my search on how to care for orchids. Mind you, I didn’t have a clue that there were as many different varieties or genus of orchids as there are car models. And there are nearly as many experts telling you how to care for your orchids with conflicting information.

Then I found Michael. His explanation and understanding just clicked for me, and I decided to trust what he suggested even if it meant they would all die. They were dying anyway, so I didn’t have much to lose. He made so much sense, and when I had enough guts to look at the root system, all became clear to me why my orchids weren’t going to live if I did nothing.

I started with the 7-day tea bath/dry out program Michael recommended and then went full out and transitioned them to semi-hydroponics using leca beads (clay beads). No more peat moss, sphagnum moss, bark, and other medium that breaks down and rots the roots. I jumped on Amazon and purchased most of the supplies he recommended and kept a journal.

I’m back!

With seven orchids on the shelf in need of rescue, I invested more money in the supplies and new technique than I paid for all the orchids. But the cost has certainly been worth it as I’ve watched them bounce back into shape and bloom again just after four months!

While I lost just one, three of them are doing splendid, and the other three smaller ones are still looking promising. I don’t know which colors survived, but the only one I’m sure of is the white one.