Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Orchid, the Sage and the Ant

Growing and tending after orchids is a very rewarding pastime. But, one must have patience. They can be quite fickle: there is no sense in trying to figure out just when the things will bloom . . . or whether they'll bloom at all! Nope. Deep inside their little genomes the Great Mother has locked away a mysterious and unknowable little key and keyhole that remains maddeningly secret to thems of us holding what we regard as "The Magic Mister" - the device that will surely 'feed' the orchid's way into spike.

Such was the way with a particular vanda that I bought about 7 or 8 years ago. It has NEVER had the decency to bloom. NEVER! Vandas can be picky about sunlight so I've moved it here . . . I've moved it there . . . Lots of sun - partial shade - some sun - deadly shade that would make other plants wither - partial sun - ad nauseum. I've fed it lightly at partial strength from what the manufacturers suggest - blitzed it with 150% strength twice weekly - starved it; I've played music for the damned thing, chanted mantras within hearing distance - you name it, I've done it. This orchid, like that famed Ma Richards' dog "won't hunt!".

That is until about a week ago. I'll be switched if the bloody thing didn't go into spike. For no reason. It just one morning decided, I suppose, "Yes. Well, then! Let's have a spike, shall we?"

I don't understand it. It's just one of those great Cosmic Things that one can only accept and then move on. So, it was with some alarm that I discovered just days after the spike's appearance, an ant prowling all over the spike. I thought: "Well, that's just great. Finally got a spike and this interloper comes along to do Goddess knows what mischief."

So, I took down the orchid (knowing in my heart of hearts that doing so would irreparably jinx any chance of the thing actually blooming) and took it outside the pool cage. The ant, almost knowing my plan, hid somewhere within the leaves of the plant. I, being 'on' to his/her game, waited like a cat before a mouse hole. Sure enough, after a few minutes, out it came and scrambled back to the spike. I quickly sucked in a large quantity of air and blew the thing off in one felled whoosh into the air and down to the grass.

Satisfied that I had not had to resort to killing a fellow traveler and had rectified what surely was to become a horrible end to the spike, back inside the pool cage I went and rehung the orchid in it's happy place. With a smile of self-appreciation, I picked up my glass of wine and commenced to examine the rest of my collection to see if I could spot any other signs of immenent bloomage.

As I gazed at a particularly fine Braccia from Belize something caught my eye: could it be? No, surely not. YES! It was the very ant parading across the outside of the screen in full view, heading directly toward the cage door. Stunned, I stood there and watched it manoeuver it's way to the door, head south to the bottom, crawl under the door, across the deck to the trellis where all the orchids are hung and proceed to climb right back up and onto the imperiled spike.

It was at this point that the Law of Allowing crept to the surface of my mind. "For heaven's sake", I thought. "How do you think the universe has managed Lo, these many Eons? You haven't a clue where this ant is in the whole Scheme of Things so bug off yourself!" And I did. This epiphany was a wonderful realization. My smile broadened and I went and sat down to reflect on the Wisdom of Allowing the Universe to flow through you instead of around you. I was filled up, fairly glowing in newly found Resolution.

Then, this morning whilst trying to find a suitable photo to accompany, what I'd hoped to be, this brilliantly enlightening piece, I find the following on this website:

"If, however, the ants are congregating on the leaves or the flower stems, and look like they are feeding on tiny droplets of sap, a greater problem exists. Another insect or mite has chewed into the plant and the ants are merely joining the party. In this case, use a safe insect spray (such as a pyrethrum-based one) to kill the main offenders but don't worry about the ants. They will get bored and leave. " (Italics mine)

. . . . . I think I have some insecticidal soap underneath the sink. ~ Om.


Kary said...

Beautiful flower Mike. Glad to see it finally is putting on a display for you. How did the "I" soap go?

Tallguy said...

But, Mike!! Don't the little bugs, like ants, help the plants do the (sex) thing? And that is how you get more little orchids!! It's all part of the Great Plan.

I don't mind the ants...on the plants outside. I just don't want them in MY house!

Der Geezer von Tampadorf said...

I don't think these cruiser ants were out doing acts of random philanthropy. And, just last evening, I discovered one of them casing the spike on one of my night-blooming braccias from Costa Rica. Grrrrrrrr . . . . .

Anonymous said...


That's just a stock photo I got off the net. It's a cattleya. This link will show you a typical Vanda.

About the I soap. What is that? Did I say something about I soap? I hate getting old . . .

Pamela said...

Awww, poor orchid to get nibbled by ants. I don't wonder you were fed up. Is it true that some orchid seeds take up to 10 years to germinate?