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Epiphyte Experiments

September 21, 2010

Finally, a houseplant-related post again!

*~*~*~*~*

I’m not particularly interested in orchids, but I’ve ended up with a few, one way or another. It started with a miniature Phalaenopsis I got as a birthday present from my father, and then I got myself a few more, because they were cute, colourful, and, most importantly, small enough that I could still find space for them even in my plant-crowded room.

Eventually, though, my room grew too crowded even for these small plants, and since I can’t bear to throw anything out, it was time to get creative.

Orchids are epiphytes, I reasoned. They don’t really need pots. So I fished out a small wicker basket from under my bed*, planted the orchids into it, along with some Rhipsalis cuttings, and hung it from the curtain rod.

Now, with two work rescue Phalaenopsises, a keiki from my mother’s Phal, two work rescue Tillandsias and another Rhipsalis I hadn’t yet managed to give away, it was time for another basket.

First, I shook all the bark chips off the orchids’ roots, removed the dead roots and pruned back the spent flower stalks to make them a bit easier to handle:

I put a layer of bark chips (mostly the ones I’d just shaken off the roots) and damp sphagnum moss into the bottom of the basket (of which I have no idea where it comes from. Probably a one-time gift basket.)

Next I put in the big plants, i.e. Phalaenopsises and Tillandsias (blurry picture alert – sorry!)

I filled up the rest of the basket with bark and sphagnum, trying to poke it down in between the orchid roots (and force them into a more-or-less upright position), then planted the keiki (which had been in a tiny, tiny pot) and the Rhipsalis. If I’d had more of the latter, they would have gone around the edges, to trail down, but since I only had the one rooted cutting, it went into the centre of the basket.

Finally, I pushed some wire through the wickerwork to make loops to which I could attatch some string to hang the basket from – even I though I didn’t know where to hang it (my curtain rod isn’t sturdy enough to support such a large basket, and drilling holes in the ceiling is so exhausting!).

But just a few days after I’d planted it, my best friend saw it and said she wanted one too. I said, ‘I’ll make you one when I’ve got plants I can use again.’ But a few hours later, I’d changed my mind: ‘You can have that one – but you owe me a basket, and I’ll want a pup from one of those Tillandsias back as soon as I’ve got space.’ After all, there are more Phals to rescue at work already, and one of them is a small-flowered variety that I like rather a lot more than those two. I’d be stupid to clutter up my precious space with plants I don’t really want anyway.

We’ll see how the Tillandsias like life in a basket. My orchids seem to like it rather a lot, and the Rhipsalis is thriving, too:

Hanging in the shower after watering

That basket was originally lined with plastic and contained a planted arrangement for Valentine’s Day – I know I got it at work, but I can’t remember which work – either during a trial week for a job I turned down (still glad I did that), or later during my apprenticeship.

Now, the plastic is gone, and roots are poking out through the wickerwork – I find those curious little roots so cute!

A wire loop with string is also visible in this picture.

It’s a great way to both keep plants happy and use those baskets that keep piling up under my bed!

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* which is my storage space for everything that doesn’t fit into my wardrobe – sewing machine, old textbooks, wrapping paper, axe…

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