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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - January 11, 2009

From: Hamilton, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care for non-native red orchid
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

In a nutshell, I was away for about a week and before leaving I watered my red orchid (as instructions said you were only supposed to water it once a week and place in a spot with sunlight but not direct/extreme sunlight). I came back from vacation and my plant is wilting! I of course am very sad, as this is my favorite plant and a birthday gift. How can I recover this plant? I need help!

ANSWER:

While there are orchids native to North America, Phalaenopsis corningiana (red orchid) is not one of them. Rather, it is a native of Borneo, probably quite a different environment than your home. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the care, protection and propagation of plants native to North America, and recommend plants native to the area in which they are being grown. So, we have no knowledge of what might be wrong with your plant, nor information in our Native Plant Database. We did find information saying that this plant needs a strong humidity in the atmosphere, especially at night. In nature, night condensation covers the leaves abundantly. It is quite possible that the indoor environment, with a heating system, allowed your plant to dry out. About all we can suggest is lightly misting it in the evening, and see if it perks up. Here is an article about your plant, wildorchids.us Red orchid: A Rare and Extremely Exquisite Flower

 

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