How To Kill Your Orchid

 Brought to you by the Orchid Society of the Palm Beaches
 By Milton O. CarpenterMilton Carpenter

I have been growing, and killing orchids for 50 years now and it occurred to me that I should pass on to others some of the basic, as well as advanced methods I have discovered, and in some cases “stumbled upon” to accomplish this purpose!

 Basic Rules: Never seek information on how to keep them alive.

For example
a) Don’t try to distinguish what KIND of orchid you have
b) Don’t ask for help from other orchid growers,
c) Don’t subscribe to the AOS Bulletin
d) Don’t go to local orchid society meetings,
e) Don’t purchase the AOS handbook on orchid pest and diseases
f) Don’t call the AOS Director of Information Services.

Aside from pouring on petrol and striking a match, consider the following:

  1. Give the orchid far too little or much light.
  2.  As most orchids like fairly good air movement, either give them none at all or a veritable hurricane.
  3. Don’t worry about what particular temperature your orchids like – a good “rule of thumb” is to treat them all alike.
  4. Forget that most orchids like rather high humidity and let the humidity drop as low as it will. Never “damp down” the benches and floors on really hot days
  5. Remember to water every orchid every day (drence thoroughly) regardless of what kind of media or pots they are in – or very seldom water the orchids at all, allowing the pseudobulbs (those things between the top of the pot and the base of the leaves) to become very shriveled and wrinkled.
  6. Never be concerned about the quality of the water you are using – whether it’s loaded with chlorine, sulphides, or whatever.
  7. Repot your orchids only when you have to and only “when you have spare time”.
  8. Use just about anything handy to pot your orchids in, it really doesn’t matter and there is no truth to the thinking that certain types like different potting media (that’s the stuff you put in the pot). Potting in plain old dirt from your garden is a good idea.
  9. Fertilize only once or twice a year, but when you do – really pour in on, perhaps triple or quadruple the formula.
  10. Try to never be concerned about insects or diseases – just let nature take its course.
      1. Because orchids prefer the full light spectrum, put them under heavily colored fiberglass.
      2. Arrange your greenhouse or growing area near a brightly illuminated city street lamp so they won’t know the difference between night and day.
      3. Try to locate your orchids as near as possible to heavily traveled roads – the carbon monoxide (and other goodies) will help with your job.
      4. Keep turning each pot around about one quarter turn each day so they will become thoroughly disoriented.
      5. If it gets cold, put an unvented kerosene heater in your greenhouse – the fumes can work wonders.
      6. If it gets cold, don’t do anything – perhaps they will just go into hibernation.
      7. When you water, always try to water late in the afternoon or (perhaps) at night, the water standing in the new leads creates unusual effects.
      8.  When potting your plants always use a pot about four times as large as the plant roots, remembering that that’s the way they grow in nature.
      9. If your plant starts to look sick, NEVER take it out of the pot to see what’s happening with the roots, after all, what you can’t see can’t hurt you, can it?
      10. Should you notice some kind of insect on a plant, just put it under the tap and wash the critters off – don’t bother to check other plants in its vicinity and don’t worry about some kind of pesticide, that stuff’s hard to handle properly and besides it leaves the greenhouse smelling poorly for days.
      11. Never spray a preventive fungicide as it leaves an ugly residue
      12. Always use the same knife or plant shears when cutting from on plant to another and don’t bother to sterilize – this is the democratic way, whatever malady one has, soon they will all share!

I am sure there are those of you who have discovered more unusual ways to kill your orchids but I have only been growing these plants for 50 years and I’m still learning!!

Another method, which I have found to be quite successful, can also be found in instructions on how to destroy sunglasses or camera equipment. You simply set the orchid on the roof of your car and drive away….very effective.


A special thank you to Milton O. Carpenter for allowing us to use his article. Milton is a past President of the OSPB, AOS and Accredited AOS Judge….Thank you, Milton!!!

Stimulating, cultivating, sharing an interest in orchids

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