I’ve been plugging away at the same few orchid plants for a few years now. Do you have this problem? The plants arrive in full bloom, of course, but a couple of months later they’ve morphed into the sad little asymmetrical things I’ve come to call Phalaenopsis nakedis. No flowers. Nada. Maybe a new leaf every blue moon.

I’ve tried a lot of tricks to get my orchids to bloom again. I tried ice cubes instead of water. I pruned the plants like someone possessed, hacking off flower spikes unknowingly and then guiltily fertilizing them in the exact way my box of orchid food instructed. I sweet talked them and created humid environments for them with my misty oil diffuser (sans oil). I fretted when the temperature rose too high in my home.

I even moved to a new home a couple of times, but no matter where I went the damn things wouldn’t bloom.

Still, I kept them around. Because what do you do with a plant but keep it around?

After each move I positioned the barren plant babies according to my usual methods. One on the built-in shelves to complement my new living room’s décor, another over there just so on the kitchen counter. If they wouldn’t produce flowers, at least they could still look like intentional, dormant accents near the wine glasses or perched atop a low pile of books.

And then one day it hit me. These things are alive. They photosynthesize… Maybe I should try giving them more light?

So I collected all the orchids and moved them to the lightest spot in the house, the dining nook that gets so much sun my cat rarely leaves it. These has-beens wouldn’t look as intentional on the dining table as they did strewn about the house, but this was no time to bow to aesthetic concerns. Besides, I figured the effort was a real long shot. They’d be back in their correct places soon enough.

Except that a few weeks later they bloomed.

New flower stalks on every plant! Leaves sprouting off like it was some kinda rite of spring (okay, it was spring but there has never been a second coming like this)! I couldn’t believe it. How obvious! How beautifully, ridiculously obvious.

The plants needed MORE LIGHT.

I do not need to tell you now that I am no gardener. I manage to keep houseplants alive, and thus far this has been enough. But the orchids have me wondering… which other proverbial pots have I been leaving put when they needed to move? How many other splendid and obvious solutions lie in wait for my simple decision to give them more light?