a ten-step program toward recovery

My name is
and I am an overwaterer.

I have been growing orchids for about five years. My relationship with plants began innocently enough,

I planted a vegetable garden ten years ago. It was fun and rewarding tending the garden and harvesting the delicious vegetables. Of course, I got very bored during the winter, so I got a few houseplants to get me through until I could start seeds for spring planting. Suprisingly, the houseplants did pretty well for me, I was actually beginning to think I had a "green thumb".

The soil is poor and rocky here so the vegetable garden needed to be watered almost every day unless it rained or was cloudy but I liked that part. It was relaxing to come home from work during the spring and summer, throw on some grubby clothes and drag the hose to the garden to give the vegetables a drink. A lot of the vegetables can't handle stress from lack of water so I felt like I was doing the right thing...our harvests proved it ! During the winter I'd fool around with the houseplants...the collection grew rapidly. It was kind of a hassle dragging the plants to the sink to water or fertilize them but it seemed as if they rewarded me by growing beautifully and I felt that I was doing something positive for them. I applied the same techniques to the houseplants that I used in the garden. Oh I didn't water them every day, just maybe three times a week. Then I discovered orchids. I was at the home center getting some fertilizer and I saw a few Phalaenopsis. They weren't very expensive. And unlike the ferns and Philodendrons, they had flowers. So I tried one, and then another. Within a year, two of the south windows had carts filled with orchids and I had been to two nearby orchid shows looking for more. If you're reading this then you probably know the rest of the story. It's fun to go into the greenhouse during the dead of winter to see what's in bud.

Old habits are hard to break. I don't know whether I consider the slow-growing nature of orchids a blessing or a curse. On the one hand, you often have time to correct mistakes. But you may not even notice the mistake until it's too late. I continue treating the orchids, all 500 of them, just like the other house plants and water them on a similar schedule; at least three times a week. Most of them grow okay and look healthy, bloom regularly. But when re-pot time comes around in the spring I'm always shocked at the state of the roots. Indeed, over the years I have prematurely sent dozens of lovely orchids to orchid heaven. Suspecting that it might have something to do with the water, I had my water supply tested for contaminents (there were none) and pH (it was very slightly acid) and began switching to a more open potting mix; from fir bark to tree fern. It helped a little, but not enough. Too many plants were looking too poorly.

Eventually, with the help of my loved ones, I was able to realize that it wasn't the water quality or the potting medium, it was the hose in my hand. I wanted to see the orchids grow bigger and better so I would water them. But with help, I am changing my ways.

The Ten Steps