Don't worry, this won't be lengthy ~ I haven't been caring for them long enough to write a very big essay. I have learned a couple tips tho that I thought worth sharing if there are any new orchid "parents" out there.
The first, never, ever cut the old flower stems off your Phalaenopsis orchids. I did this the first year (after my cat chewed it in half) but last year, I decided to leave the stem alone. Look what I missed out on by cutting:
extra flower stems! The photo above was taken a couple of months ago ~ below is what the same orchid looks like today:
Three bloom stems about to open ~ two from the old stem and one from the new ~ it's going to be a gorgeous show.
You can bet I won't be cutting any stems when this show is over! Maybe one year, I'll have a ginormous cloud of beautiful white blooms hovering over the pot??
The second thing I've learned is that for Cattleya orchids to bloom, the leaves need to be at least 8" long. I purchased a tiny slip of Cattleya 'Emily Simmons' (a fragrant yellow) a year ago ~ for all of $8.00 ~ that tells you how tiny! In my ignorance, I thought it needed to grow a certain number of leaves before it could bloom. I started with two and now have six but no sign of buds.
I learned that little tidbit when I called the greenhouse for help. Looks like I need to continue being patient before I see any flowers on this one.
The last tip is when you hear orchids like to be "neglected" more than pampered, don't take that too literally, like I did. I'm almost embarrassed to show how badly neglected I let this particular Cattleya become ~ to the extreme I shriveled the pseudobulbs:
They should be plump and smooth since they store the water the orchid needs for survival ~ not ribbed like mine. I don't know what was going on that I abused it so badly? I remember reading orchids should dry out between waterings but this is crazy. Here's a photo of the whole plant:
I sure hope I can turn it around and make up my inattentiveness to this sad orchid.
There, I'm done. I promised it wouldn't be too long. Obviously, I still have much to learn. Hopefully one day there will be more successes than screw ups!