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In the Garden: Learn about orchids at annual show and sale

Exotic-looking orchids, such as this lady slipper orchid, will be on display at the Spokane Orchid Society’s Orchid Show & Sale next weekend. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)
Exotic-looking orchids, such as this lady slipper orchid, will be on display at the Spokane Orchid Society’s Orchid Show & Sale next weekend. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)

It seems like two bucks doesn’t buy much these days – maybe a cup of black coffee or a burger from a fast-food restaurant. Why not use those two bucks to surround yourself with beauty instead?

Next weekend, the Spokane Orchid Society will put on their annual Orchid Show & Sale at the Spokane Community College Lair, and it’s a sure thing attendees will swoon over the hundreds of amazing orchids on display.

“They will see many orchids in bloom and ones they’ve probably never seen before if they’re unfamiliar with orchids,” said Jim Pearce, president and show chair for the Spokane Orchid Society. “There will also be vendors selling orchids, pots, potting media, fertilizer and orchid artwork.”

He will give demonstrations on orchid culture at 1 p.m. Saturday, and on orchid culture and repotting at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Visitors will have the opportunity to ask members about orchid care as well. Pearce suggests taking a photo of the plant or the flower so they can more easily answer those questions.

Back this year is the re-potting station, where members will re-pot or divide orchids for a donation. Visitors can bring a new pot or purchase one at the show.

For those who have been wanting to get started in growing orchids, Pearce and advertising chair Alan Alexander recommended choosing a Phalaenopsis (moth orchid) or Paphiopedilum (lady slipper orchid).

“Both of these are basically houseplants that do well in most home environments,” Pearce explained. “Temperatures of 70 degrees F. during the day and 60 to 65 degrees at night work well.”

He suggested providing the plants with early morning direct sunlight or a shaded south window.

When it comes to watering his orchids, Alexander likes to put them on a schedule and also spritzes them with water once a day during the winter and summer months due to the dryness of the air. Orchids should never be overwatered or left in standing water, however.

He fertilizes his orchids every time he waters, using an orchid fertilizer diluted in water. “Once a month, I use plain water to flush out the pots, which removes excess fertilizer and minerals, as well as any potting media that has broken down.”

Getting orchids to rebloom can be challenging for some, but Pearce and Alexander recommended putting them in a cool, dark area that has a 10 to 15 degree drop in temperature during the night for a couple of weeks. This initiates the growth cycle. Pearce said he starts this in mid-October for two weeks because the plants “need to feel that ‘brrr!’ ”

Both men readily admitted to being addicted to growing orchids.

“I’m still growing an orchid that my folks gave me back in 1963,” Alexander said. “I enjoy the challenge of getting one that you can keep growing over a long period of time.”

“I love the colors, shapes, smells and the oddity in the flowers,” Pearce said. “It’s an all-consuming hobby that I really enjoy teaching others about. And I’ve never met a person who only has one orchid.”

Susan Mulvihill is co-author, with Pat Munts, of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” Contact her at Susan@susansinthegarden.com. Watch this week’s “Everyone Can Grow A Garden” video on my YouTube channel, youtube.com/c/susansinthegarden.


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