Guest Author - Susan Taylor
It seems that orchids are addictive. Ask anyone who has started with one of them from the local hardware store and now has a greenhouse full and is considering if there is anywhere else that they can put more.
What is it about these plants that causes this disease? I've looked back at the progress of my addiction and found what I think is the answer…there are just so many different possible types of orchid...so many colors and varieties that challenge us to try to grow them. And the more that you find out and study about them the more you feel that you need to try.
Every one of us who has gone down this path has decided at some point that it is extremely important to try to grow species orchids of their favorite variety to gain a background into the parents of the hybrids they are growing. I have recommended this, but there are a number of caveats that must be addressed before you try it. Most hybrids will grow in a wide range of conditions. Species must be provided with a rather narrower range of conditions if they are to grow well. Trying to grow cool orchids in the south can be done, but it's expensive. You either have to air condition your greenhouse or provide perfect conditions under lights in your home. Likewise, growing warm varieties can even be a challenge in the summer in far northern climates. Make sure you can provide at least minimum conditions for your plants before you try to grow them. Otherwise you're just going to get discouraged and eventually kill a number of plants.
Another thing that I noticed was that I had to have every color of whatever it was I was interested in at the moment. I love the big Cattleyas, the bigger the better. I have them in lavender, purple, white all doing well. I also have a number in the yellows and reds and art shades (oranges, light pinks with a yellow blush, etc.) which have not done well for me. Undaunted, I continued buying them in the hopes that they would suddenly start to grow. I have finally come to the conclusion that they are not for me. I have changed how I grow them in order to see if I can revive the ones that are still alive, but will not buy any more until I'm getting some to bloom. It's just a waste of money for me.
Then, when I had multiple colors of one thing covered, I decided I'd see what else I could grow. Oncidiums, Dendrobiums, Phalaenopsis all had to be added in various colors. By this time my husband had built me a greenhouse so he could move in the house again and I had a wonderful time filling that up.
And now, I have to start giving away, selling or throwing away those that are not growing well, just sitting there, or were not what I expected when I bought them. Your tastes change as your addiction grows and you need to weed out those plants that no longer interest you. Give the best ones to your society newcomers, they will love to get them!