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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Blooming Orchids

Keeping Personal Connections Alive Amid Pandemic

3 plants in bloom on shelves

Group photo of all ‘the girls’ grown by Kriebel


Magenta moth orchid in bloom

Kriebel nurtures moth orchid "Rebecca" for an office mate.


A pink phalaenopsis blossoms.

Kriebel adopted and rehabbed this phalaenopsis, "Isla."


Oncostele blooms in yellow and cream with pink and red splotches.

"This one is known as Oncostele Eye Candy ‘Penny Candy,’" says Kriebel.


Oxalis, or purple shamrock in pot, sits on table

Oxalis, or purple shamrock

Photo: Laurie Doepel

Heather in a white decorative pot beside Fern kokedama

Heather and her sister, fern

Photo: Laurie Doepel

Fern kokedama sits on a table.

Fern kokedama (kokedama = “poor man’s bonsai”)

Photo: Laurie Doepel

The Record asked readers to share pics of their plants grown during the pandemic. Jo-Ann Krieble of NINR responded splendidly:

“Before COVID, I had started rehabbing the office orchids and learning about how to encourage them to bloom again,” she emailed. “Most of them are phalaenopsis (i.e., moth orchids) and are the type most typically sold at grocery stores. I had a collection of 5 or 6 ‘phals’ that I would care for in the office, and then give them back to their owners when they were in bloom. When lockdown happened, I brought them all home so they’d continue to get the TLC they needed. I didn’t get to share their blooms in person this year, but have shared photos with the office so their rightful owners could enjoy them. Photos of 3 favorites are shown here, as well as a group photo of all ‘the girls.’ 

“Rebecca is a phal that belongs to an office mate and has beautiful purplish blooms. Isla belonged to a former colleague and was in pretty rough shape when her former owner left our IC. We didn’t know what she’d look like if I could get her to recover, but she bloomed this spring for the first time in years. Oncostele is the last orchid I bought at an orchid sale just before lockdown. This one is known as Oncostele Eye Candy ‘Penny Candy.’

Aside from producing beautiful blooms that brighten the office, helping others take care of their orchids has given me a way to help keep our personal connections alive during Covid. I look forward to being able to share them in real life next blooming season!”

More Green Thumb Goodies

Laurie Doepel of NIAID also had great success growing greenery throughout the pandemic shutdown and beyond.

There’s still time to see your plant photos in the Record. Email hi-res images with a caption to

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