Caring for Orchids a Rewarding Hobby
They call her Mother of Orchids. Well, they may, after reading this.
“I bought my first Phalaenopsis at a grocery store,” says Larissa Boiwka, orchid hobbyist and owner of Wilde Hunt Corsetry, “and they kept dying.”
A disappointment to say the least. She did more research on what was happening with her plants and how to properly care for them. That was three years ago. Now she has over fifty orchids, some thriving, some on their way to recovery, and some whose health is yet unknown.
“I didn’t realize how many varieties of orchids there are,” she says. “It’s amazing to have something incredibly exotic and colorful in the middle of winter. It’s pretty nice to be able to have that, and it really got me through this horrible weather this season.”
Orchids are not difficult to care for, they are just different from typical house plants. They do not grow in dirt; rather along the bark of trees, or in loamy soils. Many of the plants purchased in grocery or big box stores have not been cared for properly and once the blooms wither, so do the plants. With proper care, orchids can bloom for months each year, and live indefinitely. Some can be nursed back to health, but not always.
Gardening is a hobby that Boiwka and her partner, Jeff, share.
“He will bring home rescues for me,” she says. “They are so much labor but it is so rewarding when they actually bloom.”
It can take three or four years before an immature seedling can bloom. The key is to have humidity levels as high as you can.
“Placing orchids in a tray with pebbles and water helps create the necessary humidity,” says Boiwka. “Some do not like direct light, and a sheer curtain panel can protect from that.”
Different planting mediums can be purchased for orchids. Boiwka has used bark and clay. A clay aggregate will allow for more aeration between the stones which helps the plant thrive. MSU fertilizer, developed by Michigan State University specifically for orchids, keep the plant healthy.
“Repotme.com has custom orchid mixes available when you really get into caring for them,” says Boiwka.
Boiwka feels a big mistake most people make when caring for orchids is over-watering. To know when to water your plants, she shares this advice:
“Carefully place a bamboo skewer into the center of the pot. Take it out. Hold the skewer to your cheek. If it is damp, do not water.”
Those interested in orchids may consider joining the Central Ohio Orchid Society. It’s a group that exists to ‘preserve and extend knowledge concerning the culture, use, enjoyment and public display of orchids.’ To be a member, you must have at least one orchid in your care.
“The society brings in speakers who talk about orchids from all over the world,” says Boiwka.
The group also sponsors judging. In the fall, they will host the Mid-America Orchid Congress, November 6-9, 2014 at the Franklin Park Conservatory.
Boiwka has just started getting into participating in the orchid shows.
“I have one that I think has potential,” she says.
For now, orchids remain a passionate hobby that fills her studio with vibrant colors.