Monday, July 18, 2011

Butterflies on Sale at Kroger...


Phalaenopsis
We were in Kroger the other day and they had Phalaenopsis orchids (sometimes called the butterfly orchid) on sale for $10. Normally I walk right by the supermarket floral display because I'm not a big fan of their products. But these caught my eye. Partly because they were very colorful but also, because my first introduction to horticulture was working as "slave labor" on a commercial orchid range in St. Louis, MO - Nettie's Flowers. We grew mostly Cattleyas for those big, gaudy corsages but also had some other species, including the Phalaenopsis. So it was kind of like a little trip down memory lane.

Cattleya
I don't know how orchids got the reputation of being difficult to grow but nothing could be farther from the truth. The plants are tough as a boot, don't require every day watering and the flowers last for a very long time. If there's a down side, it's that they are slow growers and susceptible to  a few pests - especially scale.

Phalaenopsis are relative newcomers to the market because commercial growers couldn't tie up valuable greenhouse space for the 3-5 years it takes for a seedling (or tissue culture liner) to flower. Now, these young plants are imported from places like Taiwan, ready to flower in a matter of weeks. They're kind of pricey but consider the cost of a plane ticket from Taiwan these days.

We put our orchid in the kitchen window and enjoyed it for weeks. It finally dropped the last of 7 flowers and now I have a nice little plant, that with any luck, will bloom again next year. In the mean time I'm looking for another sale at Kroger.

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