Brightening up the house one blossom at a time

I think it’s truly amazing how parents manage to instil in us ‘loves’ and ‘passions’ for a number of different things. I know I definitely got the love for music and dance from my parents, which seems to have been passed onto them by their parents and grandparents. It also seems that with each generation these passions grow deeper. Taking the love for anything theatre related, my siblings and I are somehow all involved and work in the arts sector. I’m very sure that is a result of the upbringing we had and the fact that we were always surrounded by music and dance and were regular patrons of the theatre. Another passion that my parents shared with us is one for anything green and anything that blossoms.

The Madre and Padre love plants and flowers and mum has quite a knack for the green stuff. Her plants always flourished at home. Growing up I remember having flowers practically every week at home. Almost every Sunday morning, in spite of his terrible hay fever, dad used to buy a big bouquet and take it home to mum, and every Valentine’s Day daddy would get my mother, my sister and I, a rose and a card each. Dad’s quite the romantic, I have to say.

Photo by Peter Mercieca
Sis & I with daddy

Mum has a particular obsession with orchids. These plants are truly beautiful. When they blossom they light up any room with their vibrant colours and patterns. Mum’s obsession seems to keep growing year on year. The house has literally become full of orchids, but whenever I walk in, I tend to slow down my pace and walk around the different rooms and stairs where they’re placed, just so I can appreciate their beauty. Some of them have grown so beautiful that I’m pretty sure mum could win a competition if she entered them into one. See image below….

One of mum’s amazing orchids

This passion seems to have been passed on to me… When my husband and I were house hunting, I literally used to pay particular attention to which windows and rooms were best suited for orchids. It might very well be the case that I chose the house I wanted to make a home when I finally found the right window for my orchids. Then when I was getting ready to move out of my parents’ house, a few weeks before my wedding, instead of buying the bed linen and all that, the first thing I wanted to get was an orchid. I think the first orchid moved into the house before we did.

I can’t go shopping at Lidl without stopping at the flower and plant section, just to see whether there’s a new “baby” calling for a home. I’ve got about fifteen now, but I’ve kind of had to stop buying more, seeing as I don’t have any other windows with the right light for them. This breaks my heart a little. Out of these fifteen, two are yet to bloom. All the others have been opening a flower at a time, making my house, particularly my kitchen, just that little bit more colourful.

Some of the orchids that have started blossoming in my kitchen

Having these bursts of colour around the house has definitely been uplifting during this lockdown. It’s always good to have something pretty to look at and put a little smile on your face every time you pass by. Furthermore, seeing the process of growing a new stem, the bud starting to sprout and the flowers eventually starting to open, is truly magical. It also helps me learn to be a little more patient, which does not come easy to me. The cycle of orchids seems to be a year long. They spend a couple of months with flowers, but in between they have a whole process of losing the flowers, the stem drying out, months with just leaves… and then the new cycle begins. One day you walk past and find that a new stem has sprouted and every few days you see how much it’s grown, until you finally start seeing flower buds again. I’m a very impatient person, but realising how long this plant has to wait for it to boast off its full glorious beauty tends to put things into perspective and reminds me that sometimes we just have to wait for things to happen because unfortunately, everything takes its time.

Of course these beautiful creatures do not go without incident under my clumsy hands. I’ve had one or two accidents that have almost brought me to tears. Two of the orchids are placed in the stairs, and I remember a couple of occasions where I accidentally bumped into them last year, breaking off a couple of flowers. My biggest and most beautiful one (I’ll post a photo of it in bloom last year, below) has not started blossoming yet and it’s all my fault. When I saw the stem growing, I tried tying it to a rod to make sure it grows straight before it starts bending at the top. Naturally when a stem is in the beginning of its sprout it is more fragile. Rachel of course tends to forget these details. As I was placing it in the rod, I managed to break it off. The pour thing actually started growing again and a few weeks later, I did the exact same thing. I actually managed to break it off again! This gorgeous and super strong plant seems to be as determined as I am, and did not give up on me. Third time lucky… the stem is happily growing longer now, but I’m still waiting for the flowers.

Last Monday, whilst sorting out some new plants that my hubby and I got, I decided to water my orchids and shift them around a little. I’ve got a couple of them on the kitchen island since they don’t all fit on the windowsill. As I lifted one of them to check whether it needs water, I accidentally hit it with the kitchen hood and broke off two flowers. I swear I had tears in my eyes when I saw the flowers on the hob.

I did not take photos of the flowers that fell out, but this is a photo of a dried up orchid. I think they still look super pretty.

For anyone interested in keeping orchids at home, don’t give up on the prospect. Mum was told they’re difficult to take care for before she bought her first one, and I used to think that maybe hers grow so beautifully because she’s great with plants. But honestly if I’ve managed to keep so many living, some of them for three years now, I’m sure anyone can do it. They’re not high maintenance. They just need a good spot in the house where they can happily see natural light and a bit of watering every now and then…. and I mean literally every now and then. In winter I sometimes go three weeks straight without giving them a single drop.

These are the tricks I’ve found helpful along the way:

  • Make sure they’re in bark, not soil. (This is also brilliant for anyone who’s scared of insects like me. You’ll find a lot less insects in this bark than you would in soil.)
  • I prefer having them in glass pots so the roots can see light. It’s a lot easier to tell whether they need watering too.
  • Put pebbles in the bottom of the pot so if you water them too much, the water will seep through the pebbles and not remain in the soil.
  • Place them in a spot with good natural light, but not in direct sunlight
  • The side of the pot will look like it’s got moisture on the inside, most of the time. Only water them when you see that they are drying up. The number one killer of house plants is of course, overwatering.
  • Occasionally (this does not need to be often at all) give them some sort of vitamins.

Now that I seem to have figured out this orchid business, I’m trying my luck with other plants… Let’s see how this goes, or rather how many I’m going to kill and destroy!

I cannot write about a passion that my mum passed on to me on Mother’s Day, and not share a picture with her, so here’s one from my wedding day which truly has a special place in my heart…

Photo by Sebio Aquilina

Do you have any green-thumb or lack thereof stories?

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