As I've mentioned a couple times over the years, I like orchids. I like seeing native wild ones while hiking, and I like growing the tropical ones at home. They're just such amazing plants.
Over the years I've had lots of orchid plants, but with various house moves and shifting around, most haven't made it. Also, I don't have a greenhouse and prefer to keep my home on the cold side during the winter to save energy. Most tropical orchids don't like that, at least the ones that will also tolerate very warm summer temperatures.
My houseplant-orchid obsession began in 1996, when I was working in a plant shop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I had just finished my Masters degree, which apparently made me either over-qualified or under-qualified for every science job in the area. So I ended up in retail for a couple years.
During breaks I would read the reference books we kept behind the counter, and the book on orchids was a favorite. The flower that enraptured me most was Aerangis mystacidii. It was the one that I kept going back to look at. It's native to southeast Africa, stays small, and the blooms are clean white stars with long spurs full of nectar. And bonus: the book said it was strongly fragrant at night and early morning (to attract the moths that pollinate it)! Even the name sounded like something out of a fairy tale.
I finally tracked down one for sale in 2008. It was a seedling and had never bloomed, but was a healthy plant. It had three leaves and four roots when I got it. I hung it on my kitchen cabinet where it got indirect afternoon sun, and it put out a leaf or two per year and lots of roots, but still never bloomed. However, the plant itself was very compact and pretty, and I was tickled just to have this species that first caught my interest.
I was patient. And my patience was rewarded.
Nearly six years after this plant came to me, I now have this...
The flowers are beautiful, with the delicate white stars and long spurs that first drew me to the species.
They've been open for a day and a half now, and this morning they developed the fragrance I've been waiting for. It smells like honey and stargazer lilies and gardenia and lily of the valley and something else I can't define, all mixed up together. Glorious.
I've bloomed other Aerangis species before (A. citrata and A. punctata), but THIS is the one that got me interested in orchid growing. This feels like a triumph.