Growing Orchids

I derive great joy and satisfaction (as well as cleaner indoor air) from growing houseplants. While I do not talk to my plants, I do have a certain relationship with them. They are growing, living beings, that I am raising in an artificial environment. To do so successfully, requires careful attention to their placement in the proper sunlight, the appropriate amount of watering, and since they are indoors, periodic fertilizing. Unlike plants in the wild, indoor plants would simply die without proper care. Some plants are more challenging than others to grow indoors and part of the skill in growing indoor plants is learning which will thrive in a particular location.

About 30 years ago, I was at a potluck at a colleague’s home and noticed that she had a beautiful orchid growing there. While I had seen cut orchids before, as well as orchids growing in the wild in the tropics, and indoors in botanical gardens, I had never seen one in a private home before. My colleague told me about an orchid greenhouse which supplied florists, but also sold retail orchids to the public, and upon visiting that greenhouse, I became hooked to the idea of growing my own orchids.

Growing orchids indoors presents special challenges and many people are never able to get them to rebloom. However, the helpful staff at the orchid greenhouse provided me with some good advice, including informing me about which orchids are easier to maintain in a home (as opposed to a greenhouse), what type of light they need, which orchids should be placed outdoors during temperate weather, and the necessity of using special fertilizer.

Orchids are epiphytes, which means that they grow on the bark of other trees, rather than sinking their roots into the soil. In their natural state in the tropics, orchids use their aerial roots to collect nutrients from the rain and humidity. Since we cannot replicate that nutrient rich humidity or rain indoors, the only way to get orchids to rebloom in one’s home, is to give them special orchid fertilizer, which I do once a month.

Right now, I have 5 orchids in full rebloom in my home.

One of the loveliest things about growing orchids and getting them to rebloom is that their blooms will usually last for 2-3 months, so we will continue to enjoy them for quite awhile, as long as I continue to provide them with the proper care.

Growing orchids has many of the elements of systems change:

  • Patience;
  • Perseverance;
  • Attention to detail; and
  • Proper setting and care.

While I wish I could claim that every orchid I have ever owned successfully reblooms year after year, like systems change, not every effort is successful. However, with patience, perseverance, attention to detail, and the proper setting and care, I am able to succeed in both orchid growing and progressive systems change more often than not. Equally important, I enjoy the challenge, including the lessons I learn even when I encounter the occasional failure.

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For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his website: Systems Change Consulting.

Birthday Orchids

One of my hobbies is growing houseplants. In addition to their beauty, they help keep our indoor air clean and fresh all year long, even through a long winter of closed windows. Over 20 years ago, I started raising orchids. Orchids are not only extraordinarily beautiful, but they pose significant challenges in getting them to rebloom. They need special fertilizer since they are epiphytes with aerial roots that do not obtain nutrition from the soil, so they are planted in bark to imitate their natural habitat of growing on the bark of trees in the jungle. Of course, as with all plants, finding the right location for the proper amount of sunshine is also very important.

When our son was born 19 years ago, we bought an orchid to celebrate and put it in his bedroom. The next year, that orchid rebloomed, and I realized that Josh’s bedroom was an ideal location to grow orchids. Sure enough, at least one orchid has rebloomed during Josh’s birthday for all 19 of his birthdays.

Here are the orchids blooming in his room on his 19th birthday.

My wife, Sheryl, does not believe in coincidences, and in this case, I agree that it is no coincidence that orchids have bloomed in his bedroom every year on Josh’s birthday. Sure, I take good care of my orchids. But, Josh has also bloomed every year as he has grown and matured into a young adult studying abroad at the Technion in Haifa, whom we and many others admire, not only for his many talents and accomplishments, but for the caring attitude and empathy which pervades the way he sees the world and interacts in it. So, even though he is far away this year on his birthday, his spirit remains a part of his bedroom, and I believe that contributes to the continued annual reblooming of his bedroom’s orchids.

When parents raise their children, they always hope for the best, but ultimately, as their children become adults, they must acknowledge that their now adult children must make their own choices about how to live their lives. We raised Josh as a critical thinker in the hope  that he would make good choices. Now, on his 19th birthday, we receive much joy from thousands of miles away as we watch him make good choices living and learning in a foreign land. We wish him many more years of successfully navigating life through making good choices as an independent adult while I continue to care for the orchids in his bedroom so that they rebloom every year on his birthday, as a beautiful reminder of our beautiful son.

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For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his website: Systems Change Consulting.