Bob Eaves of West Chester, a volunteer with the American Orchid Society, was holding forth on a subject close to many hearts at this year's tropical-themed show: orchids, and how to transplant orchids to larger pots. Bob's also a volunteer at Longwood Gardens, where - he reminded me - the Orchid Extravaganza continues till March 25.
Question posed to Ed involved when to repot Phalaenopsis? Simplest answer: not when it's blooming. Transplanting then would disturb root hairs and roots. The new pot should be one inch bigger in diameter than the roots are long, Ed said. Put a little dampened wood-chip mulch in the bottom - he likes translucent plastic pots with drainage slits. And don't bury the plant.
Submerge the pot in a bucket. Let it soak a bit, and drain, then put in an east- or south-facing window with bright light. Water every seven days or so, when the surface is dry. Bob says orchids don't like drafts, whether warm or cold. They like a nice ambient temperature with calm air movement. Drafts make blooms fall off.
Bob, you make it sound so easy. I'm one of those folks who still - despite all the reassurance orchid-lovers offer - has fear of orchids. Could be 'cause I live in an old house with drafty windows. I like to think that's it and not the fear of failure that plagues so many others.
The American Orchid Society is in Hall B, three rows from the front, and there'll be orchid Q-and-A's with volunteers from time to time for the rest of the show. No set schedule. But if you walk up and start making noise or shaking, surely someone will come and rescue you.