In article <354d6c64.9731208 at news.tc.umn.edu>, mcca036 at tc.umn.edu (James
> I have my first orchid (Moth). It finished blooming 6 weeks ago but
> the blooms remaine. The look as beautiful as when they first bloomed.
> Do I leave them on the stalk until they die?
What do you mean by "finished blooming"? If they haven't dried up, the
spike is still in bloom. Perhaps you mean all the buds have opened up?
Many, perhaps most, of the orchids commonly available to gardeners are
extremely long lasting (possibly this is part of the reason why they have
become successfull commercially).
In any event, when the last of the flowers have fallen off, examine your
"spent" flower spike carefully. you will notice (starting from the base)
thatthere are little nodes or bumps covered by very small (1/4" diameter,
maybe) sheaths of tissue. These occur at fairly regular intervals along
the stem until you get to the first flower or (for big, mature spikes) the
first branching of the spike. You'll notice that this flower of branching
emerges from one of these nodes.
Now go back to the base of the spike and count up to the second or third
node (neither of which should have had flowers or branches), and cut just
above it. If your plant is strong and you are growing it correctly, it
should send out a secondary spike from that node and have a second bloom.
The flowers wont be as big or as many, but you can continue to have more
blooms for many more days.
This sort of treatment is okay if your plant is in good health, but it
really isn't a good idea to do it a third time, unless the plant is
several years old, just bursting with energy and raring to go. Evey time
you force it to bloom, it saps the plant of stength. In fact, a plant on
it's last legs will sacrifice what little life-energy it has, to put out
one last, heroic (if often pathetic) bloom in a desperate attempt to
reproduce itself before it goes to that great big rainforest in the sky.
If your plants are sick or not doing well...cut the spike off immediately
upon spotting its development. It might (if you play your cards right
afterwards) save your plant's life and keep it going for another day when
it will have the ability to flower without paying the ultimate price.