Friday, September 21, 2012

Battling Little White Bugs


I don't remember exactly when I received my first orchid.  It was beautiful.  The blooms lasted for several days.  And then they died.  And then I tossed the plant. 

A year or so later, someone again gave me an orchid.  It too was beautiful.  But before all the blossoms died, there was another shoot appearing with more blossoms.  I was now interested in figuring out how to keep these plants blooming in my home.

Since then, I have read many books, attended the annual local orchid show on Palm Sunday, traveled to Washington, D. C. to see the orchid show at the Botanic Gardens, and attended demos at our local garden center.  Soon, giving me an orchid plant was the easy gift option.

And then they struck!  Little white bugs that sucked all the life out of the plants.  I do not know what they hitchhiked in on, but it was soon apparent that getting rid of them would be a difficult task.  They were 'mealy bugs'.  They are so disgusting I won't even provide a photo.

Trying not to use chemical sprays indoors, I have been killing them with alcohol - the cheap stuff in a plastic bottle.  I've segregated infected plants in a separate room.  I've gone from 25 plants at the peak down to 14 at present.  Sometimes the plant had such difficulty surviving, that I became the Dr. Kevorkian of the orchid world and placed it in the rubbish heap.  This has been going on for about five years.  Just when I think I have succeeded, another bug appears.

In the meantime, flowering has suffered.  Not wanting to stress these plants anymore than necessary, I've just been trying to keep them healthy.  One orchid lecturer said that 'We don't grow orchids for their leaves', but that is what I have settled for more recently.

Up until I saw a flower shoot appear on a plant several weeks ago.  It was a plant I had received as a gift in the last year, so it has not had the 'bug' problem.  The blooms have been opening and it is a wonderful sight.

Of all the colors available, there is something about these pure white flowers that can't be beat.
This morning when I was checking for bugs and seeing who needed a drink of water, I noticed something even more exciting.  One of my old oncidium orchids has a flower shoot.  Hopefully, when all is said and one, it will look like this:
You can be sure that I will be watching it every day and giving it my tender, loving care.

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