Friday, May 6, 2011

Tales of Poinsettias, Amaryllis, and Dead Orchids

I have a very soft spot in my heart for seasonal houseplants.  I can never get a houseplant and then throw it out.  Every houseplant deserves a fair chance. 

Every Black Friday I buy two poinsettias - one for me and one for my mother in law.  They are cheap, and high quality.  It's become a tradition.  As my spouse browses the tools I head right for the rack of 99 cent pointsettias.  They only have red, but who cares?

My mother in law does what most normal people do.  She keeps it for the holidays and then tosses it.

I overwinter mine.

Then, I put it outside for the summer.  In the fall I bring it in, where it usually proceed to die.  (at that point I don't feel guilty any more).  But the spindly specimen above refused to die.  (it's sitting to the left of Black Friday 2010's plant.)  And not only that, without any special grew a pinkish bract. (it didn't flower).  Right in my northern facing kitchen window.  No "put it in the closet for 14 hours a day, and heaven forbid if you miss one day, it isn't going to color up."

Although....should I admit it, but years ago I actually did just that.  And it really did color up before it died.  But I digress.

Then is the story of my amaryllis plant.

I got this plant in the fall of 2009 from Home Depot-no, make that "I got the bulb in the fall of 2009 from Home Depot".  It was so lonely in its box, and it was 20% off.  How could I resist?

I planted it in a pot,watered, and it dutifully sprouted, grew and bloomed in time for the 2009 holidays.  After the holidays, I put it in another north facing window (I have no shortage of north facing windows), overwintered, and then after frost I put it outside.  It stayed green all summer long.

In the fall I thought "isn't this supposed to go dormant?"  I stopped watering it.  The foliage died back.  I left it until...I think it may have been January, and at that point I thought to myself "I wonder if it will come back?"  The bulb looked green under its brown skin.  So I watered, and nothing.  Nothing for perhaps 6 weeks.

And then there was a sprout.  We had ignition!

March 21 I went on vacation. When I returned on March 31, there was a nice stalk and....the beginning of a bud. (If I knew I would be Blogathoning, I would have documented the entire process.)  Last week it bloomed.  The flowers didn't last long, but I did get a picture.

Last but not least, is my love/hate affair with orchids.

Every year our mall has an Orchid Show.  For three days, center court is occupied by orchid fanciers with their fancy, expensive plants.  Beautiful, expensive plants with their unspoken challenge..."Keep Me Alive.  I Dare You!"

And yours truly always gets suckered into buying one.  And then they last one to two years.  Some rebloom.  They all die.

This one is my latest victim.  Pay your respects.  It looks green but I'm sure it will be joining its brothers and sisters in the next orchid world before the end of the year.

Will I buy another one? 
Or, will I think of next week's Ithaca Plant Sale and save my money for that?

Decisions, decisions.


  1. The amaryllis plant looks nice. I wish I had the space to grow plants around my place. At least your orchids lasted for two years. That beats 2 weeks, which is about how long I had a bamboo plant that someone gave me as a holiday gift.

    For the life of me, I still cannot figure out what went wrong. I don't know if it was the water or not enough light or too much light and I followed the care manual as best as I could, or so I thought.

    The Madlab Post

  2. I am HORRIBLE with plants. Truly terrible. But for some reason amaryllis..(amaryllises? amarylli?) love me! My mom gave me a pot of them YEARS ago. The multiplied and multiplied and broke the pot - literally busted out the sides. So I then had several pots of them. That keep multiplying. And I do NOTHING for them, except water when I think they're about to die. I leave my potted plants outside from the time the danger of frost is over, until it freezes in the late fall. They actually bloom a few times a year now!

    Maybe ignoring them is best?


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