ORCHIDS - BY GLADYS JEURINK
Most of us have
seen an Orchid but have no idea how many different ones there are. The CATTELYA,
most often found in corsages, especially in the past, is the idea most
have of orchids when actually there are 35,000 species. If you went to
the orchid show in Lincoln in November you saw many of the different
ones with every color, shape, and size you can imagine.
Actually their size varies from an inch to 20 feet tall. Some are perfumed varying at different times of the day.
from demanding very bright light (VANDA)
to low light (PHALAENOPSIS),
also called MOTH ORCHID. Some
like to be kept damp (PAPHIOPEDIUM),
also called Slipper
Orchid, while others such as DENDROBIUMS,
need to dry between watering. So
just like many other flowers, you need to know the orchid you are
getting and what it prefers. These differences have made orchids
“difficult” to some. There
are many beginning books available.
The Lincoln Orchid Society also has special instruction pages for
the more common orchids. Many full service garden centers and your
County Extension Service also have instructions on how to grow orchids.
If you have access to the internet you can find lots of useful
information on growing orchids.
think orchids are too expensive to work with but their blooms may last
several months. Most other
house plants can’t do that. They
are not hard to grow when you find out their needs in regards to water,
food, light, and air are the same as any other plant.
One big difference though, is that many of them do not need soil.
In the wild they cling to rocks and branches up in trees living
on anything that lands on their roots.
Soil is too tight and doesn’t give them the air they need. So I
think people have tried just about everything to make them happy. Bark
was most popular for a long time, but now you can get coconut fiber,
marbles, or just fasten to a piece of bark or cork.
So far I have decided to favor coconut fiber as it holds some
water but doesn’t stay soaked if you pour it through. I put the pots
on the dish draining rack in my sink. You can check for scale and mealy
bugs at the same time. Our
Lincoln water contains a good deal of calcium which can build up making
them unhappy so I use distilled water some of the time to wash it off
their roots and the fibre.
There are some
orchids that will grow in soil. Nebraska
has 17 native orchids most growing in loose soil or leaf litter.
One of these soil orchids is LANDISIA
DISCOLOR or JEWEL ORCHID
and is as easy to grow as a Geranium but it has velvet black leaves with
red markings. It blooms for
me every year in fall or winter with small white blooms on spikes.
Misting will spot the leaves so be careful in your watering! If I
break a limb off as they grow fast, I stick it in another pot with
ordinary potting soil and soon I have another orchid to give away. They do not like South windows as their leaves fade.
Two of my
orchids are ONCIDIUMS,
also called DANCING LADIES
with blooms on long slender stems that sway in the breeze like a ladies
skirt. They like small pots
but get fairly large so plants can fall over easily.
I lay a rock or two gently across the top of the pot to prevent
this. They also look good
in a hanging pot. They like
light (South window), course bark around their roots, and have storage
pseudobulbs so don’t need as much watering as some others.
Mine are yellow and brown with spots on the skirts.
My favorite is
slipper (Paphiopedilum) that comes in all colors including black, and
sometimes two colors in each bloom with spots and strips.
They are called terrestrial as they grow on the jungle floor, not
in soil, but in the leaves etc. This gives a clue that they do not need
as much light. When I see
buds I move them to my North window.
I have had the blooms last two months. Needing to be damp all the
time, but not wet, cocoanut fibre is loose enough for this. As with some of the other orchids, if the foliage is
yellowish it means too much light.
If a very dark green, there is too little light.
The easiest one
of all to grow is the MOTH ORCHID (Phalaenopsis).
It is listed in one book as the longest blooming of two to three months
if it doesn’t get too warm. They
grow in the tops of trees but down lower where they do not get as much
sun. When the roots come climbing out of the pot and wander around it
means things are going well as they can absorb moisture from the humid
air which you can make by putting gravel and water under the pot but not
high enough for the water to touch the pot. This is called a pebble tray
and is very good for most houseplants in our dry homes.
the Moth Orchid to bloom, let them experience a cool period of about 60
degrees F. for three weeks. They will bloom about the same time every year.
One of mine has a big brown spot on its leaf where it was against
the window pane a few nights ago when it got 26 degrees F. outside.
They have big fat, long leaves and seem to be tipping out of the
pot. There are orchid
fertilizers available but some of my friends use the long lasting
Orchids can go
outside in the summer if you put them according to their light
preference. Some do well hanging in trees but be sure and watch the
watering when the temperatures go above 90 degrees F.
vanilla comes from an orchid. In the book “Orchids Simplified” by H.
Jaworski, he says “It’s the cured seed pod. The Spaniards found the
local Indians mixing it in drinks with another
Copyright Dec. 9,