Good afternoon, all — We’re always hyped to have fresh herbs in the store (and on dinner.) But what happens when you can check Basil, Parsley and the usual crew off of your garden list? Well, there are all of the other plants we get really excited about, many of which make better houseplants than herbs — Today’s blurb will introduce to a few edibles you may have seen in the market in their rooted, potted, growing plant form:
First on the list is the Meyer Lemon:
Thought to be a cross between a standard orange and a lemon way back when, the important part is the resulting citrus — yellow like a lemon, but much sweeter, like an orange. Growing to about an 8-10 ft tree, it’s not going to take over your living room, all you will need to supply is plenty of light, preferably a window with at least several hours of direct sun rays reaching the plant. Keep this fella in a well-draining soil and keep evenly watered, feeding as needed (it is a fruit tree after all.) As an added bonus, enjoy glossy green foliage and heavily fragranced flowers — these can be grown outdoors in USDA Zones 9+ you lucky devils…
Next up are two epiphytic plants — apathetic plants will be discussed in later postings — the Vanilla Orchid and Dragon Fruit:
The vine you see is indeed an orchid — enjoying warmth, bright light and high humidity over regular waterings, this vine will grow and grow, then mature once it hits about 10 ft. At this length, it may flower and can be hand pollinated resulting in the vanilla bean prized by bakers and the sweet-toothed worldwide. The alien to the right is a species of cactus, which can be cultivated just as the orchid, but with much more direct sun. Naturally, these two plants are found in Central America, but this cactus is typically growing on rockier surfaces. High humidity is important and so is a little patience . If the tasty, sweet fruit doesn’t entice you, perhaps the sweet-smelling nocturnal flowers are more your speed.
Add that to your plant repertoire!
Ready for a multi-faceted lecture? I am! Go, it’s project time!
Part one: our unlikely greens, ORCHIDS! Maybe I’m one of the few folks out there who appreciates orchids in form and function, both in and out of flower. Seriously, from the lobed pairs of leaves of the Phalaenopsis orchid, to the strappy leaves held on awesome pseudobulbs of several other varieties!!! Wait… Pseudobulb??? It’s the stem and storage organ between two leaf nodes on your orchid plant.
Plants in the Orchidaceae family (orchids) have many specialized features, but are prized largely for their stunning show of flowers. There’s a lot of odds-and-ends information about this unique group of plants, and a little know-how regarding their care. I’ll nerd-out on orchids for you any day of the week given the chance, but for this bit I’ll keep it simple and to the point: These are unique, awesome plants that seriously deserve an infomercial or two (“Set it… and forget it!”); their care is relatively minimal as far as time and effort go. While their flowers are temporary, you have to admire the fact that they will often last months on end from start to finish (take that, Geranium!), and once all of that sparkle and glamour of soaring spikes of flowers is through, we are left with still an interesting houseplant. Green and oxygen-giving, just like they’re supposed to.
In efforts of further reducing my carbon footprint, I’ve been using some leftovers as really neat orchid pots. Check it out:
Part two: carboard cylinders. I love the diverse range of candle scents by Kobo
. Browse the collections – there’s everything from fun&fruity to dark&intriguing, and I have to admit, I’m a bit of both. These eco-friendly candles are hand-poured with USA grown and produced product, talk about local! Obviously, some effort’s been put into that packaging — if you flip the carton over, you’ll find a note encouraging you to reuse this lovely container. Done, and done!
Orchids grow in very loose mediums – not your standard potting soil. Often grown in chips of bark, I prefer to make a mix of bark, spaghnum and a little bit of soil, just for water retention. Planting your orchids directly into these cardboard cylinders is both beautiful and highly functional. The breathability of the material allows the orchid’s potting mix and roots to get some fresh air - they never like to stay too wet. As for other care: diffused to bright light is ideal and humidity is key. It’s only a small task for me to mist my orchids and the soil surface once a day to provide a humid microclimate within my home.
Various orchids, potted in salvaged Kobo packaging
No one’s flowering right now, but I’m content to admire, sit, and wait… So I hope you can, too. Branch out and add a new plant family to your collection and a little aromatherapy!