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A simple way to water orchids

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Courtesy of Lynn Hunt

(Read caption) Orchids aren't hard to grow – if you water them correctly. Thanks to watering with ice cubes, this Phalaenopsis orchid won't be killed with kindness.

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The tendency is to equate orchids with steaming jungles, fancy corsages, and – to those who love old mysteries – a rotund Nero Wolfe tending his rare beauties in a glass garden.

But not so for thousands of casual indoor gardeners across the country. They think of orchids not in relation to the tropics or fat, fictional detectives, but in terms of an addictive and rather uncomplicated hobby.

In fact, despite myths surrounding the aristocrat of flowers, those who’ve tried growing orchids insist they aren’t terribly finicky -- as long as you get the water requirements right.

The image of temperamental, high-priced orchids is rooted in history and legend. Confucius wrote that orchids were flowers of great refinement to be held in high esteem. Until the 18th century, orchids were revered and heralded as medicinal remedies and aphrodisiacs.

During the late 1700’s, exotic orchids imported from mysterious parts of the globe captivated plant fanciers. Serious collectors were willing to pay thousands of dollars for an unusual specimen. Orchid raising became considered the passion of wealthy hobbyists.

Fortunately, these days you don’t need to take out a second mortgage to start your orchid collection. That’s a good thing because early in snowy February, I desperately needed to see something in bloom.So I bought a pretty Phalaenopsis (Nero’s fave) orchid at a local store and hoped I’d guess right as to how much water it might need.

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