Care & Feeding

Orchids in the deep of January- a salve for the winter-weary soul. They're beautiful any time, of course, and many of us would love to have them in our homes. Too often, though, the flowers quickly wither and drop, never to return, and we give up. Keeping orchids alive is, it seems, a job for the experts. Not so, says George Crozer. He and his wife Katie just opened an orchid business in New London, the state's only full-time commercial operation. He swears anyone, with a little training, can grow orchids. "They aren't hard," he says. "They're easier than other houseplants." He'll be at the annual three-day orchid show at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua in mid-February (see info below), and can answer questions there, but he gives us some general advice about the care and feeding of orchids. The main reason orchids don't make it is over-watering. Most varieties don't like to dry out completely, but err, he says, on the side of too dry rather than too wet - too much water can rot the roots. He recommends not misting the leaves because water can collect in the crown. But, one of the vagaries of growing orchids is that some like it wet - you have to know what type you have. The easiest orchids, he says, are the Cattleya, Lady Slipper, Butterfly Orchid, Dendrovian and Phalaenopsis. Apparently, a lot of people are buying orchids. Crozer says they're second only to pointsettias in sales. And speaking of pointsettias, he's working on a Christmas variety of orchid, but don't ask him about that if you see him at the orchid show or, better yet, go to his greenhouse (see address below). He's keeping mum for now. NH


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