Orchid Culture Dumbass Awards

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Well-Known Member
Jun 7, 2006
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I am submitting myself as the first entry for this award. Today I realized that I (a chemist by the way) misread teaspoon for tablespoon on my bottle of MSU fertilizer. All along I thought my phrags were getting a little too hot, but no, they were being fried with excessive fertilizer. The crazy thing is that my paphs have shown no distress with 500ppm fertilizer and my catts have been taking 1000ppm!!
I AM AN IDIOT!!!!!!! But, I'm sure I'm not alone.
Anyways, this will be a sort of contest. I invite you all to enter your stories in this thread and at some time we will all vote and the winner will win something entirely stupid for your entirely stupid act of orchid culture bastardization.
My very, very first orchid was a beautiful Dendrobium Andre Miller. The only thing I didn't like about it was the "stupid bark" someone had planted it in. The thing obviously needed some potting soil, and I was just wise enough about "gardening" to give it some.

To this day I can't keep a Dendrobium alive in my care. I think they have all conspired against me for my first act of orchid murder.
Wow. But, alot of beginners cant get past the whole "no dirt" aspect of orchid culture. Excellent entry, though :)
My first orchid was a Paph given to me by a friend. In a couple of years, when it had several growths, I divided it into single growth divisions. I almost killed it, but what did I know back then... I see now, in retrospect, that it was pretty stupid to do that.
bwester said:
Wow. But, alot of beginners cant get past the whole "no dirt" aspect of orchid culture. Excellent entry, though :)

So my stupid isn't stupid enough. :)

Let me see if I can think of something that I have done recently that I should have known better.
I had problems with over watering. I watered whenever the top of the medium was dry. I went about this for like 3 weeks. But my phals were fairly resilient to the over watering and my paph uniflorals were in super tiny pots so they all survived. The one that gave it away was my bllra tahoma glacier. I looked at it and was thinking to myself "why is the big green thing wrinkly?", I hadn't known it was called a pseudo-bulb back then. I uprooted the plant and looked at the roots and started pulling off the roots off the thing stringy interior. First thing that came to mind was "This is not right" I posted on a forum and they told me I had rotted the plant and found out it was from over watering. After that I used the old "stick in the medium" method to track how moist the medium was.
Your Andree Millar didn't like potting mix?? I put all my Latourea section Dendrobiums in just that...and water them before they even start to dry out.

I guess one man's mistake is another man's solution.

Dumbass Moment...probably any time I used bark, ok I joke...kinda...

Seriously though, my "head shaker" looking back was on my first orchid, Psychopsis papilio. I managed to bloom the thing, but repotting was another story. I had never read about orchid care, just many years of housplants and garden plants and saw a picture of one and told my mom to ask her orchid growing friend if he could find me one. After about the fifth flower, I decided to repot it...but only because it's pot seemed too small. So, I pulled it out of its pot, bark and all and put it in a bigger pot and filled in with more bark(like you would most houseplants). A month later it had no roots and declined rapidly. But because of this mistake, I spent many years afterwards learning and experimenting and getting more addicted than ever. Now I have lots of Psychopis plants, and no root problems so that plant didn't die in vain.

Mercedes-benz 560 specifications
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Well, I think some of you know of my best dumbass moment...but lets not go there. ;)

On a more positive not, Blake, I did the fertilizer thing, but realized it after only one watering - MSU, misread directions. Yep, been there!

Otherwise, putting my plants outside and not realizing the sun really WOULD cook them! Only lost a couple Paphs that were ousted due to the fact that I had no room left inside and they were no big loss. However, I lost a couple of nice Phal violaceas, but I still contend my first blunder was my biggest.
Marco said:
You had phals??? :poke:

ummmm, no? gosh, I must really seem snobby huh? :eek:

Ok, for a few minutes I did.
When I first started growing, I "accepted" a lot of free divisions of other genera of orchids from someone who was trying to unload them. But I quickly ran out of room. I don't think I managed to bloom any of them before either torching them in that sun accident last year, or selling them. The Phals I actually had a few until recently. I do love certain Phal species, but I just don't have the room to keep them. The passion isn't there.

But again - Jane has one of my violaceas and Barb has the other. So I can keep an eye on 'em!
Heather said:
But again - Jane has one of my violaceas and Barb has the other. So I can keep an eye on 'em!

Cool. :) I think I saw your Violacea at Jane's. If it was the one in the window then I did see it. I think it's in spike!
how did your miltonia collection take the excessive sun :poke:
bwester said:
how did your miltonia collection take the excessive sun :poke:

You know, my doorbell rang this afternoon (mistakenly - I'm on the 2nd floor and they were looking for the first) but my first thought was, "I'm not expecting anything! What day is it, Monday? No one would ship a Milt on a Monday, would they?!"

I live in constant fear!

I once tried to see if Sanicel, a crumbly, coarse corn-cob material used (hopefully not anymore) as reptile bedding,as a potting medium...it looked good. Fortunately, I just tried it on only one plant, a phal, I think....of course, with all the starch in the cobs, the medium turned to glue immediately....I don't think I've ever killed an orchid more quickly...It was also lousy as a reptile bedding....I think it gave a tortoise an intestinal blockage...but that was a lonnnng long time ago. I now kill my orchids in far more prosaic ways. Take care, Eric
Breaking spikes are generally considered pretty dumbass and I've down that more than once (extra dumb).

The most recent event was when I went to staple a split seed capsule in a coffee filter and turned it upside down to get a better angle with the stapler. Lost almost all the seed.:sob:
Best Old Dumbass Move:
Julie and I also had a dendrobium that needed repotting. After not getting the darn thing to stop wobbling in the bark mix, we also added dirt to give the roots "better support". I'm sure you know the rest of the story.

Best New Dumbass Move:
I had just received a small single growth division of Paph White Knight from a friend. I naturally started to repot it upon returning home. When I went to pull a dried leak off the base of the growth, I ended up pulling the whole growth off the crown. Doh!

Best Guest Dumbass Move:
A nice elderly gentleman once asked me to come over to help him determine why his Phals were losing leaves. When I got there, he told me he was perplexed by the Phals' poor health. After all, he conscientiously added water to the crown of the plant daily, just like you would for a bromiliad!
Um, I once had a roth too close to the window...one night there was a severe cold snap and, yup, frozen and then mush. I was very, very sad. Granted, it wasn't huge yet, but it was a wonderful cross.

I also (let's blame this one on the demon liquor) used those cornstarch-based peanuts at the bottom of paph pots. I caught site of the sticky, oozing crap coming out the bottoms before I'd made it through the table full of victims. (It also helped that one of my cats was playing with a peanut escapee and it was getting stuck to his mouth periodically...hard not to take note of that sight.)

Oh, the usual....not remembering to repot until the roots turn to mush....repotting a paph that happens to have a single healthy root and breaking it off...(a favorite of mine...)...or back in the days when I used bark, nearly wiping out my collection by using Rexius bark...(which my phrags actually loved) which had the most amazing ability to rot superfast, taking the roots with it...oh..and leaving splinters in your fingers during repotting...Take care, Eric