Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Orchid Obsession

Most gardeners have at least one plant they're obsessed with . . . and for me it's orchids. Who can resist such beauty. Given the right conditions . . . dappled sunlight . . . humidity . . . water . . . good air circulation . . . they reward their owners with a bounty of beautiful blossoms. Here are photos of some of my 50 plus plants.

(Click on the photos to enlarge them for better viewing)

Here are some large gorgeous cattleya blooms.

These phaleonopsis are pretty in pink.

What about some purple and green beauties. The green cattleya is one of my favorites and it blooms about 3 times a year. I've actually had that orchid for over 20 years and it's HUGE...

And, don't forget the hot-colored yellow and orange orchids. They really make a statement.

I photographed this orchid as it opened from a bud to the full-fledged flower. It was really neat to watch its progress each day.

Our orchids seem very happy to live beneath the Live Oak tree that shades our deck. This is the best location we've ever had for them, and fortunately, we can view them from inside the house...an added bonus for us.
Remember that green flowering orchid I mentioned before. In this photo you can see how large the actual plant is.

A large majority of them are kept on a plant stand located on our back deck.

 The others are hung on various metal and wood holders as the one below. My neighbor Nancy came up with the design and my husband built it. It works great for holding a number of large cattleyas.

Taking care of them is really easy. They're planted in a regular orchid potting mix. Anywhere from 3 to 4 times a week...depending on whether it rains or not...I spray them with the garden hose. Every six months I add a new packet of slow-release fertilizer...like Osmocote. The packet of fertilizer was my mother's idea. Since you can't toss the fertilizer pellets on top of the bark...because they'll fall out..she came up with the idea to place them in a small piece of netting fabric...close with a twist-tie...and, voila' you've got a nice little fertilizer packet to place on top of the bark. Now, every time you water, the plants get fertilized...resulting in dark green healthy leaves. See, anyone can grow orchids!
You can see the fertilizer packets sitting in the pots in this photo

One very important thing you must do...after the blooms have faded on newly purchased orchid plants, repot them with a prepackaged orchid bark mix into an orchid pot...clay (see photo above...the clay pot has large drainage holes on the side) or wire basket with a coconut liner. Most store bought orchids come in a plastic container that does not allow for good drainage. To leave them in the plastic container is surely the kiss of death!

In winter when the temperatures drop below 50 degrees we must bring them inside for protection. To make the job easier and less time-consuming, we place as many as possible on the table and cart shown below. We can easily bring them inside the house...and just as easily, place them back outdoors when the temps warm up a bit.
Growing orchids really is easy...but don't say I didn't warn you...buying one leads to another and another...next thing you know...you've developed a new obsession!

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