Do you remember the orchid spheres that were featured in the Tropical Greenhouse during Wonderland Express in 2012? I always wondered, “How did they do that?” and tried to examine them after they were already created.
Orchid Sphere in Wonderland Express
When I heard they were making ten of them for the Orchid Show, I asked horticulturist Elizabeth Rex to show me (and you) exactly how they do it. She and the other talented horticulturists constructed them from up to 150 light and dark purple Phalaenopsis orchids, spending six to eight hours per sphere. I’m not sure any of you will be creating your own orchid spheres at home, but if you do, Rex tells me they will last up to six weeks with proper care. That’s good, because the Orchid Show will be open from mid-February to mid-March.
Keep a look out for other fantastic orchid creations including arches, chandeliers, and trees. I wonder how those were made…
A Phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, is called the “gateway orchid” for beginning collectors: it requires very little care, and yields great rewards with blooms that last up to three months! Early success with a moth orchid leads growers to try other species and, finally, to orchid addiction. But how do you ensure early success?
Phalaenopsis ‘Timothy Christopher’
As a new orchid grower, I was not aware you had to repot your orchids shortly after purchasing them because they are often packed in sphagnum moss, which provides too much moisture for the plant. I was also not aware that you should repot your orchids every one to two years to maintain healthy plants.
Anne Nies, a master’s degree candidate in the Garden and Northwestern University’s Plant Biology & Conservation program, is an expert in all things orchids, both native and tropical. She is also a member of the Illinois Orchid Society, which holds its spring and fall orchid shows at the Garden. She took some time this past fall to show me (and you) how to repot our orchids to maintain a healthy growing environment.
Our first video details step-by-step instructions for repotting a Phalaeanopsis orchid. Stay tuned for part two next week, when Anne reviews the different approach used in repotting a Paphiopedilum orchid, which has different watering and culture needs.
Video note: soaking the orchid you are repotting in virucide should not be a replacement for watering. After soaking the plant in the solution, repot and water well. Make sure your container has good drainage holes, is planted in a well-draining bark media (not moss), and the plant is never allowed to sit in a saucer of water.
Mark your calendars for the Garden’s newest exhibition, the Orchid Show (purchase tickets here). Orchid lovers of all levels are sure to learn a lot more about orchids at the show. Can’t wait!