Feb 20th, 2022

Orchid Love: Phalaenopsis & More

LeAnne Wingo works a full-time job, is a wife and is a mother to a busy 11-year-old boy.  Still, she somehow also finds time to cultivate and grow orchids in her free time. She calls it her “escape.” Are you wondering how she has time to care for her orchids while balancing motherhood and a full-time job? She says it’s more the other way around — her cultivating and tending to her orchids gives her the peace of mind to do her job and parenting well.

Leanne Wingo with a Phalaenopsis orchid

Leanne Wingo with several Phalaenopsis orchids in the Conservatory at Lewis Ginter.

“I love discovering new blooms and how they can sometimes last for months! Growing Orchids has definitely impacted my life in a positive way — it provides great stress relief and allows me to pause for just a moment thru hustle and bustle of everyday life.  I appreciate the patience it takes. The nurturing has been such a stress release for me and has become my happy place,” Wingo says.

She describes how she had wanted a greenhouse for quite some time, her bathroom and parts of her home had become so full of plants, she knew she needed more room, and then, in March of 2020, just as the pandemic was shutting things down, her husband found a greenhouse for her. It became her refuge. Around the same time, she also started working from home, due to the pandemic, which allowed her to embark on a new orchid hobby. Wingo joined the Virginia Orchid Society about that time too which allowed her to meet and befriend other knowledgeable orchid growers in the region.

She explains, that it’s not motherhood as much as work that is stressful. Tending her orchids counters that. “I have my ‘she-shed’ of orchids and I can take a second to recharge my mind,” she says. “Seeing a new bloom, or a flower spike that is starting to emerge, or even a new leaf excites me and I’m proud of those little milestones!”

Leanne Wingo with a Phalaenopsis orchid and more in the Orchid Wing of the Conservatory

Leanne Wingo enjoys visiting the orchids in the Conservatory at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She got really excited and started telling me all about them and identifying them which was really fun!

Phalaenopsis: How it Started

Wingo’s love of orchids emerged in 2015 after a friend gave her a Phalaenopsis orchid, or moth orchid, the kind most commonly sold in stores. “I had it a year and a half, but I just didn’t know how to take care of it.” When she got the winter blues in 2017, she made the connection that having the orchids — and plants in general “just helped recharge and reset me and get me back to a good space.”

“After work, I walk my dog and I get my son situated, but then I designate the afternoon to water my orchids and tend them. I love its calming effect. It is soothing and it is my time. Watering and checking for new developments, it’s just time to myself.”

Now, she’s an accomplished grower. Wingo has Phalaenopsis, dendrobium orchids, and more. She explains that she has learned a tremendous amount from orchid groups on Facebook where she says she’s met people from all walks of life who have one thing in common — orchids. “We do [Facebook] Live from our greenhouses and homes and show other people our plants and give each other tips.” It’s been a great way to make new friends during the pandemic too. “It has totally branched me into a new community of people with similar interests who share a passion for growing and who love of orchids.”

Leanne Wingo with a Phalaenopsis orchid

Leanne Wingo with a white Phalaenopsis orchid. This one is also called a moth orchid because it looks like a moth.

Tending Orchids in her She-Shed

Wingo’s “she-shed” is an 8 x 10 greenhouse with a shed attached, where she uses fans for air circulation and two heaters in winter to warm the space. Wingo explains that right now, most of her Phalaenopsis are in bloom. Wonderful, but not the best timing for the Orchid Show, which isn’t until March 4-6, 2022. “My goal is I would love to enter at least one orchid in the show,” she says. “I have buds forming on a dendrobium. Maybe that’s the one!” she says with excitement.

We hope you can join us for the Orchid Show & Sale,  March 4-6, 2022 in the North Wing of the Conservatory. You’ll also want to check out the free educational classes and orchid sale with many vendors. Check our website for more updates and details as we get closer to the sale to see the classes offered.

Orchid Show & Sale, March 4-6, 2022
Friday       1 – 5 p.m.
Saturday   9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday     9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

You May Also Like