Friday, January 11, 2019

My Year of Orchids: Thriving in the rain

It’s coming down in sheets today and I couldn’t be happier. Winter is supposed to be “rest” time for a lot of the orchids but when you’re stuck up in a tree with your roots exposed to sun and drought, even in winter, water never hurts. This is a much different situation from people who are potting their orchids, or even orchids that are growing in the controlled environment of greenhouses. Epiphytes in the wild CAN dry up but they don’t love it. They love water. And this isn’t any old water. This is rainwater. The real deal. 

So, why rainwater? I know people who harvest gallons of it for their orchids. Harvard PhD here thought it was because they were cheap. Water is expensive here but lots of people use well water for irrigation and I found the reclaimed water to work just fine. Well. At least it didn’t kill any of the plants. So what is in rainwater that you can’t find anyplace else?

Every drop of water that falls as rain starts its life as water vapor, attracted to a particle of dust in the upper reaches. So every drop of rain that falls has a “nucleus” of dust. In dust are trace elements that the orchids use as nutrients. Strange to think that when it rains the plants are actually receiving a coating of dust, a shower of nutritive molecules. I’ve read that orchid roots take up ions rapidly, and they hold onto them. This makes sense when you consider that rain is continuous, threatening to carry with it the traces of deposited dust. Ultimately the orchid gets its trace nutrients this way.

My babies’ first soaking I wrote to Kathy that some of them were ready to go on a rampage. Well they looked great compared to how they had before the rain, but it would take several months before they showed signs of life. Rain rain don’t go away!

No comments:

Post a Comment