Sunday, July 10, 2011


If you’re new to orchids and you’re thinking of starting a collection, check out Orchid Magic. It’s a fun read and the writer asks you to take an oath: I will not kill my orchids.

Phalaenopsis equestris (Click on pic to enlarge)

A plantlet growing at the tip of the spike

A friend gave me my very first orchid. It was a baby phalaenopsis equestris. I knew I was not doing anything right because for years and years the orchid had only three leaves. Every time a new leaf appeared the oldest leaf would dry up and drop. Then one day the plant decided to bloom and reward me for my patience. Lucky I didn’t cut off the spike after the blooms dried up because a new plant grew on the spike. From one orchid I soon had several new plants and still had many to give away.
A new spike on the cymbidium aloifolium  
The spike grows to about one metre

Close-up of the cymbidium aloifolium

The cymbidium aloifolium I got from a colleague who lived a few houses away. I was admiring the plants outside her rented house while waiting for her to get ready for school—we car-pooled—when I noticed this blooming orchid in the dirt under a mango tree. 'Poor orchid,' I remember thinking, 'you should be up in the tree, not crawling on the ground.' Zuraidah let me tease out a plantlet (or keiki—Hawaiian word for baby) from the mother plant and I stuck it in the branches of one of my bushes. One day it bloomed and it has been blooming once or twice a year ever since.

My cattleya bloomed recently

I love cattleyas too but I find them very fussy. A few years ago I saw a spike forming in one of my orchid pots and was so excited and looking forward to the bloom. For no apparent reason, the spike refused to let the buds cut through the sheath enclosing them. Then it withered, shrunk and turned brown. There was no flower show. Of the cattleyas, I have only three colours: pure white, white with yellow lip and purple. The pure white cattleya bloomed three weeks ago and the flowers still look fresh. The purple blooms don’t last as long.
Drendrobium anosmum

I bought one dendrobium anosmum  at Gaya Street several years ago. This plant multiplies quickly, grows very easily and produces a spray of scented, light purple flowers. I dream of my dendrobiums developing multiple spikes so the flowers will look like a thick curtain of lilac stars but I guess that’s asking too much. 

I was so excited when a freak appeared recently!

I dream of having a shower like this! (Google pic)

Orchids don’t need much room and are easy to take care mainly because they are off the ground and weeding (or digging!) isn’t necessary. But you’ve to keep the slugs and snails away otherwise they'll climb up and make your orchids their permanent home. They’ll have no reason to leave when succulent leaves and pretty flowers make ready food.
 I sprinkle ‘siputox’, which comes in tiny pellets, under my orchid shed. The snails party on these and ignore my plants. The ‘organic’ method is to put a little left-over food in a bowl/container, add some water (so the solid food is swimming) and leave in your yard. The slugs and snails will have a swimming party and drown! Oh, they love beer too!  

Maybe you have orchids and would like to share something about them?


  1. I was just about to ask you about Cattleya orchid as I read and scrolled down...You have Cattleya orchid too! Beautiful. It's one of my fav type of orchids.

    My mom has only two types of orchid, the dancing lady and the white moth orchid. I don't know the scientific name for both orchids. I shall ask her whether she shares your tips in getting rid of the snails or not. :)

  2. Hi Chegu Carol! Thanks for dropping in. Cattleya orchids are so beautiful! I'm always tempted to buy new plants to add to my collection but they're quite expensive and may not even like me!
    Your mom must have what we commonly call Sabah Orchid. That's phalaenopsis amabilis...think 'ikan bilis' senang ingat! I forgot the name for dancing lady. Oncidium?
    Ask your mom how she gets rid of snails. I've found those tiny snails living in my plants (so high from the ground!)

  3. Hi Tina!

    Your orchids are lovely. I know nothing about them but my mum used to have heaps of them. I'm planning to get one too but probably the type that grows indoor and requires minimal care :) Bout the snails, well don't if it's applicable to orchids but my grandma used to use salt to get rid of them.