I Think I Impregnated My Phalaenopsis
Running a site called “Plantgasm” with the tagline “I love plants too much” invites a certain kind of joke. But rest assured, I’m not doing anything naughty to my plants. It’s all consensual, I promise.
Plants are, it turns out, pretty much all about sex. They spend their whole lives building up the perfect flower at the perfect time. Flowers are actually sex organs and orchids have especially kinky sex lives.
All orchid sex is a ménage à trois, involving two flowers and an unsuspecting insect. Each flower sings a siren song, using color and scent to seduce the bug inside. (In some places, orchids and insects co-evolved so that only one species can pollinate a specific orchid.) Some orchids even role-play, dressing up their flowers to look and smell like an especially slutty insect, drawing suitors to them in a sexual frenzy. (Just watch this video and try not to feel bad for the poor humpy bee.)
Orchid sex also involves toys. While the insect is in the flower, the orchid attaches a strap-on to the insect’s back. Yes, really. The strap-on (aka viscidium) is a bit of the flower that holds two pollen balls. The insect departs, unable to remove the package. When the insect with the straped-on pollen balls enters another flower, the viscidium deposits the pollen in the second flower. Kinky!
Since there aren’t a whole lot of winged insects in my house, I decided to try pollenating a flowering Phalaenopsis myself. After a bottle of wine and some light conversation, we went at it like animals. I used a toothpick to pop the viscidium off a flower. I could see the two orange pollen balls attached, but they’re almost invisibly tiny. I then turned it around and reapplied them to the same flower (some orchids can self-pollenate). To see how hot this actually is, check out this sexy video. NSFW!
That was a few weeks ago. After we all sobered up, we never spoke of it again. But lately, I’ve noticed a change in the flower. She was withering away. Usually when a flower dies, it just kind of goes droopy and then falls off. But this flower was drying out instead.
So I looked behind the bloom, and sure enough, a baby bump! Usually the flower stems are thin and lightly colored. This one is dark and getting fatter.
We all discussed it and decided to keep the baby (or, rather, the nearly 1 million seeds that can come from a single pod). Unlike other pregnancies, this one will only take about four months. It won’t involve a hospital, but it may involve a lab. When the seed pod is ready, we’ll ship it off to an orchid flasker. If we’re lucky, a year or two after that, we’ll have a bottle of babies. In addition to being all about sex, orchids are also all about patience.
So that’s the birds and bees of orchid love. I’m so glad we had this little talk.