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updated: 11/5/2013 7:45 AM

Freeport woman grows 4-foot orchid

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  • June Runte, 91, holds up her blooming orchid plant at her home in Freeport.

    June Runte, 91, holds up her blooming orchid plant at her home in Freeport.
    Associated Press

Associated Press

FREEPORT -- At the age of 91, June Runte admits she is no Martha Stewart, but she is proud of her green thumb as she tends to her blooming orchid plant at her home in Freeport.

It was four years ago when Runte watched a program on television with Stewart showing how to tend to orchid plants. A plant lover, Runte decided: "if Martha can do it, so can I."

Runte bought a small orchid plant. She picked up a copy of the book "The Beginners Orchids" and did her homework. What she learned about the myth of tending to orchids is this hearty plant is not as delicate as many believe. The proof is in the flower.

Runte showed off her blooming plant Oct. 17 at her apartment complex. Passersby commented as they walked by the pink and white plant. Runte beamed with pride.

"I just find orchids enchanting," Runte said. "Look at this plant I have. It has 18 large blooms on a nearly four-foot stem. I cannot believe how this plant has done in the four years that I have had it in my home."

While many people think the tropical-looking plant is rare to this part of the country, Runte said the Hawaiian wild flower is perfect for any home. She said you just have to talk nice to it and give it plenty of tender loving care.

"I have other orchids, but this one is my pride. I call it the mother plant," she said. "The orchid is a quaint plant, but I tell everyone, do not be afraid of it -- it's very sturdy."

Raising plants is nothing new to Runte. Now retired, she used to farm with her husband, Donald, east of Freeport. It's where she raised her son and daughter. Then she used to raise African violets. Both types of flowers hold their flowers long.

"The last time my big orchid plant bloomed was six months ago, but it was nothing like this time," Runte said as she held up a blossom. "Looking at it makes me smile, and when I get up each day, to look over at it by my window shows the love I have given it."

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