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.