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How much of an expert are you?

This is a discussion on How much of an expert are you? within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Somebody once remarked that, being an expert at something means nothing more than being an ...

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  1. #1
    LJA's Avatar
    LJA
    LJA is offline OrchidTalk Tech Admin
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    Default How much of an expert are you?

    Somebody once remarked that, being an expert at something means nothing more than being an individual who's done the most things wrong in any one field, and who's learned by those mistakes. That said, how many orchids have *you* killed? How did you kill them?

    In my 18 years of growing, I've killed, literally, four or five hundred plants. Maybe even more. Some of them were divisions I'd received for free, others were very expensive seedlings I'd had no clue about how to care for. Back when I got into this orchid thing, the web was virtually nonexistent, information was hard to come by and often wrong, big chain stores had just learned that having a garden department might indeed be profitable, and if you told anybody you grew orchids, you were immediately regarded as some kind of mystic.

    Hours after I bought them, I repotted my first orchids in thick, wet, rich soil, wondering the whole time, what kind of an idiot nursery would grow tropical jungle plants in dried out wood chips.

    I lost dozens of cattleyas to a huge scale infestation I was blissfully unaware of because I hadn't bothered to look at the undersides of the leaves. Once I noticed, it was way too late: scale had invaded between sheaths and PBs, chewing away all the dormant "eyes" that would have sprouted new growth.

    One terribly cold winter, the power had gone out in the little greenhouse I had built way in back of the back yard; I only noticed days later because it had started to snow, and the white stuff was accumulating in slow steady inches on the greenhouse roof instead of melting. When I went out to look, every single plant had turned a wet, frozen, droopy brown. I should have been more vigilant.

    My laziness and ignorance took their toll on dozens more: I learned how quickly one needed to deal with rots and funguses instead of saying, "I'll deal with it tomorrow."

    Lack of patience made me over-fertilize and over-water; I burned and rotted roots left and right; and more ignorance and greed made me divide plants way before they were ready for division: I wound up with so many dead sticks in pots I could have built a nice fence with them.

    Seedlings just out of flask cringed and shrank back when I approached: I either drowned them or dried them out so bad they turned to jerky, and one time, furious at various insect pests I couldn't seem to get rid of, I sprayed my whole collection with insecticide mixed at 5X strength. That was me going to "show the f**kers."

    So that's how much of an expert *I* am, and through it all, I've managed to become a pretty decent grower.

    So how much of an expert are you?

  2. #2
    Forrest is offline Senior Member
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    Default

    well, I am not quite sure I agree with that definition of expert, by that standard I have been choosing the wrong doctors!


    I have definately killed a few, though I could probably count them on one hand. Mostly due to not caring. I have had a few plants fall out of favor and not perform well, then perhaps start going and I do nothing to fix it. These have historically been noids or super common dime a dozen type hybrids that had they survived would have been given away by now anyways. Although I have had a compot of Den senile go while in my possesion. To be fair these were the runts of the flask that a friend gave me because they were not worth his time to pot up.

  3. #3
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    uncasteeb is offline Senior Member
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    Not killed 1 yet.
    Must be a real newbie

    1 plant was really annoying me , i couldn,t work out if it was virused or just a cultural problem so i flushed it down the loo .(Miltonidium Isakku Nagatta seedling)
    I,ve changed most of my plants over to s/h & all are growing ok.
    I have fried most of my plants , nearly all of them show some signs of high light but they certainly are growing/flowering ok(moved the HPS light up 10" tonight to give them slightly less light) .
    Over fertilised 1 of my paphs & 1 off my phrags(leaves going brown @ the tips & then dying back ) but both have multiple new growths now.

  4. #4
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    Default learning slowly

    I have to say I have only lost 4-5 plants so far. Most of those were noid plants that were picked up off the clearance rack at boxstore, so I don't feel too horrible that I lost them. I'm a sucker for a bargain so I'm sure I'll have a few more losses coming my way... Most of my plants are growing well but now I need to convince a few more of them to bloom!

    christopher

  5. #5
    RSJ
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    Default Expert in training

    This is a funny thread. If you were asking about general houseplants, then I would be right up there. I"ve even managed to kill the unkillable "mother in law plant". I'm a newbie to orchids so I have gotten a slow start on expertism.

    I have killed 2 phals--one was my first orchid and was a mercy attempt to try to save it. Repotted it about 4 times in 3 months. Didn't live, go figure. The other was sitting on my "temporary" potting bench (aka on top of the kitchen stove with a board over it) with newly trimmed roots while I went to answer the phone. Hubby decides to turn on the gas oven to preheat for dinner and doesn't see the plant (?!), and presto-change-o, lovely healthy phal is fried by intense heat coming from the oven vent. Have also nearly lost a Sharry Baby, of all things, by dividing one too small to be divided. It'll probably be two years before that little division blooms again.

    But, my kids will tell you I hedge my bets. Two weeks ago they were teasing about how I buy plants that are almost dead anyway and then if they live I take credit and if they die I can say they were going to die anyway. OK, that's almost true for the outdoor garden...out there they have to prove they can survive anything and fend for themselves before I bring them home. But i don't usually do that with houseplants. The next day after that conversation I walked in the door with a nobile dendrobium in my hands that the local nursery-lady said she couldn't get to rebloom and she'd just give it to me if I wanted to try. Free orchid...are you kidding? Of course I'll try! So, as I walk in with my lovely pot of sticks which are dropping their leaves, the kids crack up. "SEE! That's what we're talking about!!"

    RSJ

  6. #6
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    Jmoney is offline Senior Member
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    no comment. I'm wanted in 35 states for first degree orchid murder.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jmoney
    no comment. I'm wanted in 35 states for first degree orchid murder.
    LOL, Jason.

    I just want to share what my husband told me during the late 80's when all orchids that I bought, specially phals (they were very expensive at that time)died under my care.

    This is what DH said:
    " It will be much more cheaper, and a lot more easier for you if you just tie the money with string and hung them on the window. Anyway they also come in different colors, green(ten dollars), yellow(thousand dollars), purple(fifty dollars), brown(five hundred dollars)and red(hundred dollars)".

    There were no twenty dollar bill yet at that time, the color is blue.

    I have no idea how many orchids died under my care. The only orchids that I didn't manage to kill are some species of dendrobium and a chinese miniature cymbidium whose flowers are tiny and very fragrant. I didn't even bother to water it sometimes. For some reason, it just keep on growing and blooming. Eventually, I have to abandon it when we moved to our new home.

  8. #8
    Gilda is offline "Master of the Moth and Phrags "
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    Geeze Louis,
    After reading your post, I am like Forrest ,and don't consider myself an 'expert' in the way you describe !

    Out of 4 1/2 years of growing orchids, I might have lost 4 orchids.. and these were given to me in a 'half-dead' state already !

    On receiving my first healthy phal, I read every book, internet article, joined orchid forums ,picked brains, and joined an orchid society to learn about the culture of these beauties ,knowing that their culture was very different from 'houseplants' . Who would want to aquire an orchid ,only to have it fail ? Not moi'............don't like failure.........
    BTW, still have this beauty and it is in bloom !

  9. #9
    LJA's Avatar
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    Default

    Maybe I just had a run of bad luck??


  10. #10
    Cinderella is offline Senior Member
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    Default

    Nah.

    I am up to about a dozen but where I started off the Florence Nightingale of orchids.....save at any cost...I have moved into the Kevorkian camp. Kind of like the publish or perish of the academic world.....if you don't look like you could bloom in the next year or two....goodbye. I have become cruel and heartless because I have limited growing space and that spot could be taken by someone else more productive.

    Kinda like the corporate world....

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