For more than 30 years, Eddie Weigle has done what he knows and loves, working as a plumber.
But seven years ago, he had a customer throw a monkey wrench at him, although not literally, and introduce him to a pastime that today is a great source of pleasure.
"I was at the home of a long-time customer one day and was told out of the blue that I was bequeathed a greenhouse filled with hundreds of orchids," Weigle said.
Weigle accepted the generous gift. But it came at a price - for the plants.
"I killed over 500 orchids that year," he said. "At first, I grew the orchids everywhere, and they didn't like that too well," he said.
Fortunately, things have gotten better. Between trial and error and learning from fellow gardeners, Weigle has learned how to properly grow and care for the beautiful blooming plants.
"Today, I have a small greenhouse with over 1,000 species of orchids."
Given his introduction and early history with the plant, Weigle is certain that "anybody can grow orchids. There are over 30,000 species and over 250,000 hybrids."
One of the most popular and easiest types of orchids to grow is the Phalaenopsis.
"Not only is it one of the easiest orchids to grow, but it is also one of the longest blooming," Weigle said. "Blooms will stay anywhere from 3 to 6 months."
The striking plant is often seen as intimidating to would-be growers, but it should not be.
"First of all, you do not have to have a greenhouse to grow orchids in your home," said Sharyn Altman, a master gardener who has grown orchids for many years.
And there are just a few simple rules to follow to enjoy the plant.
"Don't over-water an orchid," Altman said; it is a surefire way to kill it.
"Just give them a little humidity by adding rocks on a plate or tray where the plant rests," she said. "And when the plant is blooming, it does not have to be in direct sunlight.
"Orchids do require good drainage, and they need to be planted in special terra cotta pots made especially for them," she added.
Rules aside, Altman stresses that the most important thing to remember about orchids is "If you like it, just get it and enjoy it," she said.
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