Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winter is for Houseplants

I am tired of hearing gardeners say they have nothing to do until Spring. They can't garden. What about houseplants, people? I love winter, because I have time to spend with my houseplants. Of course, I have more than most and taking care of them could be a full time job, but this is a good time to concentrate on your houseplants. I painted some plant stands this week,  put some African violets on wick watering resevoirs, moved some plants around, etc. But, the best thing about winter and early Spring is the orchid and African violet shows and sales. This is the place to buy the unusual plants, ones you can't find anywhere else. I love the miniature orchids and violets, because I have so many other plants, and space is at a premium. Plus, they are easier to sneak into my already huge collection of plants! Yes, my husband will probably read this.....of course, I'm not really fooling him.
The best thing about going to plant society shows and sales is the amount of free information available. There are flyers, classes, and the best part, a whole bunch of people that are very knowledgeable about their chosen plant. These people love their plants and are so willing to share  expertise and personal experiences with a particular plant. Okay, let's face it-they are plant geeks and so am I!
Following are some pictures of the plants found at the show I went to last weekend in Grand Rapids, MI at the Frederick Meijer Gardens. This show was hosted by the Grand Valley Orchid Society.

One of the displays at the show.
The displays are the "show" part of the event. The businesses that are selling orchids, put together these displays which are then judged and awarded ribbons. They allow you to see the orchid flowers and then you can go to the sales room and buy the ones you can't live without.

Epicattleya Rene Marques 'Flame Thrower'
I loved this Epicattleya and it actually might be residing in my home right now. Anything that is green and pink is a "must have". 
Monnierara Millenium Magic 'Witchcraft'
This black orchid is very unusual. Not my cup of tea, but interesting. It did draw a crowd. 

Potinara Dick Smith 'Aloha Spirit'

 Sometimes we wonder where hybridizers come up with the names of their plants, but this plant does say Hawaii to me. Absolutely gorgeous!

Miltonopsis Herr Alexandre

I love pansies so these orchids are my favorites, but I haven't as yet tried to grow one. Why, you ask? Because the experts always say they aren't the easiest orchid to grow. That usually doesn't deter me, but orchids can be expensive and, like I said before, I try to stick to the miniatures.

Trichopilia suavis

Potinara Mount Yellowthorne 'Sun Peak'
Paphiopedilum  Star Stone
The slipper orchids are unusual and many people only collect this type of orchid. Quite a few varieties are so shiny, they  look unreal, like plastic.
Phragmipedium 'Cape Sunset'


Cymbidium Lamp Lighter

 It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or an expert, there is an orchid that will work for you. The moth orchid, or phalaenopsis is one you see everywhere and I find them easy to grow and they flower reliably every year for me. Go to one of these shows, sit in on a class and learn as much as you can about the plants you are interested in.
 There are four more orchid show/sales coming up, I know you'll want to attend. These shows are in Michigan, as that is where I live. Check your local orchid societies and other plant societies for the show/sales near you. 
The first is February 23 and 24 in Lansing, put on by the Greater Lansing Orchid Society. For more information go to . 
The next show is put on by the Ann Arbor Orchid Society on April 20-21. The website is .
The third show is the Michigan Orchid Society show and sale in Madison Heights March 23-24. The website is 
The fourth show is a little further North in Michigan. It is put on by the Northwestern Michigan Orchid Society in Traverse City. The dates are May 25-26. The website is 
Another show going on, unfortunately at the same time as the Michigan Orchid Society, is the Michigan African Violet Society show and sale in Ann Arbor on March 23. If you like African violets, this is the place to be. These aren't your Grandma's violets! I'm sure her violets were lovely, but the varieties that are out there now are astounding. There are also many other kinds of gesneriads to see and purchase, as well.
Here are some pictures of the types of plants you might see (and buy, of course): 

Variegated foliage is gorgeous.

Streptocarpus 'Silvia'

Episcia 'Cleopatra'


The Michigan Cactus and Succulent sale and the Michigan Bromeliad sale are in the fall. Go to their respective web sites to find the dates. 
See, there is lots of "gardening" to do in the winter. It's called indoor gardening, and it is my favorite kind of gardening. 


  1. Beautiful photos! I have not been having luck with orchids lately, but I am trying to propagate a few different African Violets right now. We will see how that goes.

  2. Thanks eastward designs! I just repotted my African violets today and started some new ones. Good luck!