Orchid Surprise

I got my first orchids after moving into a freshly remodeled house five years ago. Home renovation shows always include an orchid or two in the “after” footage. I thought it was a rule. Though space for a plant was limited, the master bathroom seemed like an ideal location.

My first two selections were miniatures with variegated foliage and mauve-ish flowers on four-inch stems. They were small, in pots that matched my color scheme, and inexpensive. Dormant orchids in net bags rather than pots were so cheap, I decided to try one of them as well.

My first orchids as they look today

The bathroom wasn’t nearly as well lit as I thought. After a few weeks, I moved my trio of orchids to my kitchen table. It’s about two feet from a big window and gets an hour or two of morning sun and bright light throughout the day.

To be honest, I didn’t expect my orchids to live for more than a few months. Not only were they still alive a year later, the variegated plants had bloomed again. I was hooked. Over the next few months, I picked up six more. I have no idea what kind they are. Most were out of bloom when I bought them and marked down to ten dollars or less.


My orchids require very little attention. I place ice cubes in the pots to water them every few weeks and douse them with liquid orchid food maybe twice a year — when the thought occurs to me. When it rains in warm weather, they might go outside for a few hours or overnight. Once in a while, I remove dead flower stalks and leaves.

I must be doing something right. At least one of my orchids has been in bloom for the past five years. Each new bloom is a bigger surprise than the one before. The long-lasting flowers typically emerge between November and March, but have also bloomed in other months.

The dormant orchid I bought is my fastest grower. Rather than up like all the rest, it tends to spread. After five years of growth, it finally bloomed last month.

The “dormant” orchid finally blooms this year

Without flowers, I can’t tell my orchids apart. Whether individual plants bloom more or less frequently than every year is a mystery. Marking the pots and keeping track of bloom times would make predicting when each plant is likely to bloom possible.  Frankly, I’d rather be surprised.