Sunday, June 14, 2015

Naturalizing With Orchids

I'm a great flower lover. They are simply pretty and make me happy. So I plant lots of flowers. Orchids are something I like but know very little about. Regardless, I plant them around the place anyway. I guess it's called naturalizing with orchids. I've talked about my orchids before, but I've been asked to give an update. I was asked to show how I plant them.  I guess I have about 60 of them tucked into the farm by now, maybe more. If one looks carefully for them, sort of like going on an Easter egg hunt, they can be found in lots of nooks and crannies. 

I've learned that orchids don't need to be planted in soil. In fact, they seem to do better without it most of the time. They need really good drainage. No soggy roots. Not needing soil means I have lots of flexibility in planting orchids around.  I  can stuff a bit of moss into the crotch of a tree branch. Good place for an orchid. The moss is just there for support. Over time the moss rots away leaving the orchid pretty much attached on its own to the tree trunk or branch. 

Or I can make a pouch out of a mesh bag, stuff it with moss, add an orchid, then tie or wire the pouch up in a tree. If I don't tie it, the wind will blow it out of the tree. But after a while the orchid will have grown enough roots to hold it in place. By the time that happens the moss has broken down and I carefully cut away the old plastic mesh bag, leaving just the orchid behind. 

Old logs make nice orchid "planters". Bind the orchids in place so that they don't fall off while their roots grow. Once rooted, they hold themselves. And simple lava rock walls can host orchids too. Shift the rocks and stuff an orchid down in the crevice. Or simply plop the plant atop the wall and place a rock over some of the roots to hold it in place until it secures itself. 

All sorts of planters can be good orchid containers. Cobble together some tree branches, add a rope hanging handle, wallah! 

Not knowing anything about orchids, I'm sure I'm making tons of mistakes. But many of my orchids rebloom, so at least I've got some of them right enough. And being that I'm a bad orchid grower, I'm just tickled pink when one of them reblooms. 

A few things that I've learned about orchids is that some do fine in fairly bright light while others need more shade or semi shade. Some like it wet (with lots of drainage) while others like it a bit drier. Some tolerate cooler nights than others. I'm told that my area is excellent for orchids called cymbidiums. But I have many others that rebloom here and seem happy enough. But I've had failures. I'm not knowledgable enough to know in advance which types don't like my location, so I just give those bloomed out cheap sale plants from Home Depot and Lowes a chance here. Most make it, some don't. 

Perhaps some day I'll take the time to learn about orchids. But for now I'm too busy finishing my house, learning to grow food and how to raise livestock. Lucky for me I live in a spot with good orchid weather. 


  1. I love cymbidiums. Can't go wrong there! I also love phalaenopsis but they seem to be indoor plants. Not in Hawaii though. I loved walking around the roads in Puna and seeing the wild orchids. Great ideas for how to "plant" them!