When You’ve Killed Your Weight in Orchids

There’s a saying that you become an orchid expert when you’ve killed your weight in orchids. Some people wince in horror when I repeat that, but orchid lovers usually just laugh and nod. Growing orchids means sometimes making mistakes and killing plants. I’ve grown them for over 25 years, and earned my expert status a very long time ago. Fortunately, my mortality rate is far lower than it once was.

Cattleya cernua, aka Sophronitis cernua, miniature orchid species, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaOncidium strictum, aka Symphyglossum sanguineum, orchid species, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaComparettia macroplectron, orchid species flowers with water drops, grown indoors in San Francisco, California

Red Cymbidium, orchid hybrid flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaOberonia toppingii, miniature orchid species with tiny flowers, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaCyrtochilum macranthum, aka Oncidium macranthum, orchid species flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

These photos are all orchids I’ve killed. Many are older plants which are long gone. In fact, a few of these photos are a dozen years old. Some died because I watered too much or not enough, forgot to repot, or let pests get out of control. Others died for reasons beyond my control, like raccoon damage, or having a short lifespan. Most importantly, I’ve tried to learn from each of them, even if it was only about the limits of the growing conditions I could provide.

Ponerorchis graminifolia, Grass Leaf Orchid, aka Orchis graminifolia, miniature orchid species flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaCycnoches barthiorum, orchid species flower, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaSedirea japonica, orchid species flowers, Japanese name: Nago-ran, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

Bulbophyllum pardalotum, miniature orchid species flower, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaPolystachya zambesiaca, orchid species flower, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum orchid hybrid, orange and yellow flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

Now, don’t get the idea that I used to run some type of orchid slaughterhouse. I have orchids which have thrived for decades, despite this visual record to the contrary. Whether beginner or expert, all growers need to continue learning. With tens of thousands of species and countless hybrids, orchids are an endless field of knowledge. There are always more mistakes to make, and more orchids to kill.

Explore posts in the same categories: Growing, Photos, Problems

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