Personal experience on growing orchids | Daily News

Personal experience on growing orchids

Flowers, plants, trees are the love of my life. I love the colour green and plants are mostly green. But unfortunately my trials with plants were unsuccessful till lately one of my orchids bloomed that sprig of orchid flower inflorescence changed my attitude towards life. I made a note in my smart phone. ‘Don’t give up hope even my orchid bloomed’.

Although in the remote past I tried to grow orchids I gave up soon because it was a total failure. Very rarely there were flowers but they did not interest me much.

Lately my husband started buying orchid plants from `Diyatha Uyana’ flower exhibitions. There are two cement posts on either side of the doorstep on which two upturned cement bowls are constructed. In both, there were orchids. They must have been there for years and one on my left side had one bunch of flowers. The other one grew extending branches all over but there were no flowers.

I was bent on making that one also bloom. I sprayed the leaves with liquid fertilizer 5:14:5. The ratios were nitrogen: phosphorus: potassium. For the plant to grow healthy leaves nitrogen helped, the phosphorus for roots and potassium for flowers. For flowering phosphorus content had to be high. One fine day in February I saw a bunch of flower buds in the orchid plant it was a great triumph.

Facts I learned about growing orchids:

1. The orchid should be in a clay pot (not plastic) with large holes at the bottom and around. The plant should be tightly packed with coal or stones but not with soil or mud.

2. They should be closely associated with another plant like a tree fern.

3. They should be securely fixed to a stand and not moving or swaying in the wind.

4. They should not be exposed to direct sunlight one orchid in the sun had tiny buds somewhat resembling flowers but they did not develop into flowers. I thought they were transient forms between floral and vegetative stems. Internet said plant developed transient forms due to mutations which are caused by UV light or carcinogens. Plants develop sinapate esters to protect themselves from UV light and most plants in the family one of which is Brassica napns develop a lot of that chemical.

5. The medium in which a plant lives should not be disturbed because the plant bodies or mycelia of beneficent fungi that live in the medium should be able to thrive without breaking the mycelia. The fungus absorbs sugars from the root of the plant and in turn supplies the plant with nutrients like phosphorus.

6. Metals like aluminum and iron should not be used when growing plants. Their compounds inhibit absorption of phosphorus by plant roots.

7. Salinity in soil greatly affects growth of plants. I found out that some of the four o’ clock flower plants (hendirikka) that were growing as weeds did not develop seeds. Flowers fell off even as buds before opening. I started watering them profusely and they started developing seeds. Flowers don’t develop mature embryos when stressed.

8. For an orchid to bloom, it should have a friendly stable atmosphere that resembles one in a forest. Food, humidity, shade from direct sun, stability and association with other friendly plants matter.

Those are the things I learned by caring for plants mainly orchids. When I think how a bunch of orchid flowers brought hope in my heart I am indebted to them. 

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