Lady Orchid

They Say it is Fall

Yes, summer has spread her warm, damp wings and has quietly drifted away. The autumnal equinox is now upon us and with any new season, familiar change is always welcome.

The orchid bug that is nestled within me has been buzzing at a cozy, consistent frequency. I have not necessarily been brimming with the same excitement that stemmed from my initial orchid adventures, but I have been very happy. My orchid collection has become quite comfortable and although there have been a few losses due to some very hot summer days, all appears to be well. Not many additions have been made to my orchid garden in these past months. Although I may have one or two orchids on my wish list for later this fall, I have simply found so much pleasure watching my leafy friends come to life and flourish within our home. After the seasonal onset of new growth and new roots, the promise of a variety of fall flowers appears to be on the horizon.

Miniature OrchidsMiniature orchids in the morning.

As my orchids have acclimated to their home, I have been musing over my other plant collections. A few strange, flowering cacti and succulents have been added to the southwest windows in our studio and a handful of hearty begonias are now growing alongside the orchids in our living room. It has felt nice to curate a varied assortment of beautiful creatures, ranging from the subtle and basic to just plain weird.

Stapelia Gigantica + Edithcolea GrandisStapelia gigantica and Edithcolea grandis

STAPELIA GIGANTICAStapelia gigantica‘s emerging buds. So curious to see what these giant ‘starfish’ blossoms will look like and how strong her carrion scent may be.

Years ago, my heart beat wildly for begonias. Sadly, this collection was lost when we moved into one of our older apartments. After all of these years my family and close friends have nurtured cuttings from my previous collection and with their love, they have grown into the most beautiful, robust plants. Each time I have visited their their homes I often found myself missing the distinct foliage and the waves of shimmering pastel flowers. This past spring I finally decided that I wanted to reconnect with a few of my long lost loves.

Begonias and OrchidsOrchids and begonias under the watchful gaze of my ancient aloe.

Begonia Immense Begonia Immense and her beautiful, hairy stems.

With the addition of these new houseplants, I felt the need to re-think potting soil. I remember having bad experiences with many pre-packaged varieties, particularly Miracle-Gro. The thought of overly moist “soil,” small flies and chemicals made me shiver. I love to care for my plants and buying a product that hardly dries takes the fun out of watering entirely. With this in mind, I decided to prepare my own rich, airy mix. I feel that after experiencing the simplicity of varying orchid media, the idea of preparing a nice potting soil that would suit my needs was much easier.

As fall progresses I will surely post a few photos of my orchid blossoms, along with some additional updates.

The Living Dead

More than one post in a month, mmmmm, it must be spring. Happy Vernal Equinox! I will bypass the figurative language concerning the weather and make this sweet and to the point.

As an introduction to my fascination, I thought that I would offer you a fun tidbit. We do not own a television, but I do watch some shows on our computer from time to time. The one television show that I love is The Walking Dead. I absolutely adore zombies.

Thunia marshalliana, Habenaria rhodocheila ‘Orange’ and Monnierara Magic ‘Witchcraft’ have been ‘dead’ aka resting for the past 5 months. This seasonal sleepy time obviously occurs elsewhere in nature too. Bears like to take long, fatty winter naps and outdoor wildflowers and garden bulbs get their rest as well. This sort of cold-induced dormancy and hibernation makes me think of the living dead. I find it so fascinating that plants and other living beings can alter their life processes in such a way.

I purchased Thunia marshalliana in early October of 2014. At this point she had a few leaves, but she was ready to be tucked into bed. This particular eBay seller normally imports their orchids from Ecuagenera, an orchid supplier in Ecuador. I have purchased from them before and sometimes it take a bit of patience and love to make these ladies comfortable.

At this point in the season, Thunia was shedding her leaves upon arrival. Nothing was to be expected except for her oncoming dormancy. When I tugged her out of her pot she was completely root bound. These roots were fresh from the recent growing season. Unsure of what to do, I decided to place her in a larger 6″ pot and stuffed some sphagnum around her. I also used a ridiculously large dowel to support the growth from the current year. I was not going to get ahead of myself, I had some time to think.

About 3 weeks ago, this sleeping beauty decided to awaken. I examined her new growth with excitement and then let her be. To water or not to water? I skipped off, choosing to look into this very soon.

Last night I decided to do some research to see how my Thunia should be re-potted and I was overwhelmed that there were so many methods. Unfortunately, the cow dung and the leaf litter was not an option at the moment. Some folks repeatedly mentioned “soil.” Others grew her in sphagnum and worm tea is not my cup of tea quite yet. I decided to go with my gut feeling.

I had a few bags of different potting media in our studio and picked out what I thought would be suitable. In response to all of the information that I read, I prepared my own little mix. Ancient forest hummus from Alaska (so in love with this stuff,) pine bark mix, a gritty mix with small granite chips and hydro leca.


As I had mentioned, this orchid was very root-bound. Once I un-potted her, I found that these roots had died during her dormancy. I cleansed my scissors and got to work.

Pictured above, the debris from our late night date.

Alongside the larger growth, I found a second growth getting ready to start. I cut off all of the old roots from the previous year and removed the very thin husks from the older cane. After these new growths mature, this tall one will die back and shrivel up. Mature canes on this orchid usually do not last for more than two growing seasons.

Thunia marshalliana is now in her new pot. In consideration of the roots that were removed, I decided to put her in a smaller 4″ clay pot. I placed a hearty layer of rinsed hydro leca at the bottom and then filled the pot with the mix that I made. I also opted use a long wire as a stake. When she begins to grow quickly, extra support may be necessary. Although Thunia will not be watered until the new growths are a few inches tall, she will probably receive a misting or two to moisten the top of her media.


Hello lanky green friend! I will say that I adore the blue tinge of her greenery. And yes, on a celebratory seasonal zombie note, I do suggest The Serpent and the Rainbow, a film directed by Wes Craven that was made in 1988.

Will share some of my spring orchid arrivals with you soon.

With Love,


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