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Winter Bloom

02/01/2011

I’m very excited about my forthcoming orchid bloom. Here’s a photo of where it stands now:
Paphiopedilum

This is a Paphiopedilum, or “slipper orchid.” There are numerous varieties. We have another type that hasn’t spiked yet this season, but could. When we moved to a new apartment last year, most of the orchids didn’t bloom. Not only did the light switch from easter to western, but the temperature zones became a lot trickier.

Most orchids I can even remotely try to grow in an apartment setting need a cold snap to prompt a bloom and require indirect light. In the old apartment, there were several nooks right near a window but just outside of the sun’s glare. So it was easy to let enough cold air inside in winter to give the plants their little burst of chill. Now our windows are all above baseboard heating, and there’s only one that doesn’t get direct sun. So it’s been a challenge to find the right home for each plant.

The Paph in the photo has been really happy as far as its greenery goes, but I wasn’t sure that it was in the right spot to bloom. So when it spiked about a month ago, I was ecstatic—and surprised. It’s bloomed in October in the past, so I’d pretty much written it off for this season.

To the right of the Paph in the photo, you’ll see another grassy plant. That’s another slipper orchid, one that produces giant, buttery blooms like this:

Orchid

This photo is from fall of 2009, in our current apartment, but the bloom had already started in our old place when we moved. So far this year, nothing. The leaves seem perfectly happy, and it’s sprouted another batch for the season, but it has yet to produce a flower, and I am afraid that it’s just too far from the window. More than the smaller, purple Paph, this one needs that little zap of cold to bloom.

Ironically, our apartment is colder overall then our last, and it often drops a full ten degrees at night in winter—just what an orchid needs. So you’d think that the general draftiness and chill would be enough to trigger the orchid’s seasonal behavior. Apparently not.

But there is still a little time left this year, with at least one other plant beginning to flower. So perhaps they’re all just settling into their new home. I’ll post more photos when the flowers open.

Now if I could just get the cactus to bloom …

[To see how this beauty bloomed check here.]

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