Updated: Jul 17
One of our society members, Kevin Englisch (find him on Instagram) contacted us to bear witness as he attempted to break the world record for the most flowers on an orchid plant (monopodial) to beat the current world record.
The stakes were high and the flowers to beat was 106, verified on January 11, 2016 by Karen Bartlett in the United Kingdom. With bated breath, we saw Kevin carry the gigantic orchid and placed it on a lazy suzan on the kitchen island. After counting the flowers, we hit record on the video for the final count. Unfortunately we lost count because there were just so many stems!
Wine charms to the rescue!! We searched the kitchen cabinets and came up with an ingenious idea to add a wine charm to ever stem counted. Once we were confident that the plan would work, Kevin pressed the record button and he counted 1, 2, 3 ... all the way to 131 blooms! The record was beat. We were thrilled and humbled to be in the presence of such an incredible specimen of hard work, dedication and spectacular blooms. Kevin almost gave us all a heart-attack when he asked if he should take all the blooms off the stalks and display them on the kitchen counter!
Kevin proceeded to show us how he uses technology to keep the orchids happy, humid and illuminated in their "homes". When we asked if growing orchids was something he always loved to grow, he admitted that once you get started with orchids (and having success) it can become a plant obsession. This is something that every gardener can relate to!
A little bit about Kevin:
Kevin is a software engineer with a passion for gardening and growing orchids. When he's not developing web applications he can usually be found tending to his gardens, playing video games, or hanging out with his two cats, Ellie and Smutzie.
Kevin's Plant Passions:
My favourite aspect of gardening is collecting data regarding my plants, and using that information to adjust their environments and feeding schedules to get the most out of each one. Each year I’m in a competition with myself to see if I can outdo my previous records. Then I get to share most of what I learn across several online communities so others can benefit from what I’ve learned, as well as techniques I've developed that are successful and repeatable.
What is the best plant advice you've received?
Don't be a helicopter parent to your plants and practice patience. Care was provided to my plants when I felt they needed love instead of looking for signs they needed it. Many of my plants suffered from over watering, over fertilizing, too much light, too much training, and other issues. And, similarly to how a watched pot never boils, a watched plant doesn’t grow!
What is the worst plant advice you've received?
Starting seeds, and planting seedlings directly into a fresh banana or potato. It's supposed to provide a good environment and nutrients for a young plant. In reality, the only thing you'll end up with is a container filled with rotting produce and a healthy population of fungus gnats. Using ice cubes to water orchids is another. The melting ice won't do much to hydrate the plant, and doesn't provide much nutrition. Water not absorbed by plants will pool at the bottom of the plant's pot, stagnate, and cause root problems.
Your favourite plant show to watch or book to read
Books: The Farmers Almanac.
Your advice to new gardeners
"Feed the soil, not the plants." This is advice I didn't understand until I had gardened for several years. I thought I could purchase some manure each year, a high quality fertilizer, and those would be adequate to feed my plants. However, each year I noticed a decline in yield. It wasn't until I built up the health of my soil with compost, leaves, grass clippings, and other organic material that it sprung back to life. Not only are the plants happy, but I've built an entire ecosystem within my soil. I still apply manure in spring before I plant, and feed organic fertilizer throughout the growing season, but my garden is much less dependent on these resources while producing significantly more fruits, veggies, and flowers.
Thank you Kevin for your sharing this gardening highlight with us! Want to know if Kevin's orchid made it into the Guinness World Records? Click on this link to find out!