Growing orchids is easy — with a little help to get started. Naples Orchid Society members will showcase some blooming beauties at the annual Orchid Show and Sale next weekend and offer help to visitors curious about growing their own beautiful blooms.
The 40th annual event will feature orchid basket arrangements, which will be available to take home if you are a raffle winner. And orchid plants will be for sale from five different growers.
American Orchid Society judges from around the state will determine show awards for the members' exhibits and individual orchid plants from many genera, which will follow the show's theme, "A Tisket, A Tasket." The best will be acknowledged with ribbons and medals.
See the show Feb. 22-24 at the Baker Center gym at Moorings Presbyterian Church in Naples. Doors will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission costs $8, but coupons are available on the society's website. Each coupon is good for one person; children under 12 are free.
One orchid basket arrangement will be raffled each day of the show. Raffle tickets are $1 each or six tickets for $5. These baskets are made by society members and will include potted orchid plants with ferns or ivy.
You do not have to be present to win.
If you can't attend the show, you can make your own potted orchid basket. You will need a container, a few potted orchid plants, several small pots of ferns or ivy, a little green sphagnum moss or Spanish moss and either wet or dry flower-arranging foam.
Get some sandwich- and quart-size plastic bags to cover the pots or bare plants and a garbage bag for lining the basket. This will protect the basket and furniture from dampness.
Here's how to make your own orchid basket arrangement:
1. Select a basket or container — those without arching handles are easier to work with. Choose a solid color that will not compete with the flowers. Cut down a garbage bag to fit inside the container as a liner. Fold the cut edge under near the inside lip of the basket.
2. Choose orchids from your collection or buy new ones. Keep in mind that blooms of Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium and Oncidium orchids last longer than Cattleyas. Pick a variety of colors and heights. Bromeliads are also long-lasting and can add a splash of color to your arrangement. Have some small fern and ivy plants in pots to add more green.
Clean old leaves and spent flower stems from the plants. Apply cinnamon to any fresh cuts on the orchids to prevent disease.
Wipe leaves gently with cotton soaked in lemon juice for shine. Check for insects and snails. Water plants thoroughly and drain well. Stake up flower spikes so that they present well.
Placing the plant pots into trimmed, individual plastic bags will keep the basket looking fresh for several weeks without having to water.
If plants need water, a little can be added to the bags, but do not overwater; roots will rot.
3. Place your plants into the basket. To add height to some plants, cut foam blocks or wad newspaper and slip under the pots or plastic bags. Smaller pots can be placed on top of larger plants to fill in space. Tuck in the ferns and ivy and spread the leaves around the orchids.
4. If you are using sphagnum moss to cover the roots and tops of the pots, moisten it with a little water and gently work it in around the base of the plants so the plants look as if they are growing out of it. Greening pins, used in floral arrangements, can also be used to hold moss in place.
5. When the flowers fade, take your basket apart and repot plants if necessary. Care for the plants and they will continue growing and the orchids will rebloom next cycle.
Information: call 239-775-5220 or visit www.NaplesOrchidSociety.org.