noticed that orchids are more and more common on store shelves? And not
just nurseries and garden centers!!! I see them in groceries and hardware
stores with the prices well below what they were years ago.
A bouquet of
flowers lasts a few days, a potted plant may bloom a week or so but an
orchid may last for several months.
People tend to discard them after blooming but you can put them on
a shelf in low light, keep them damp, and have a new set of blooms about
the same time next year.
think orchids are too expensive to work with, but as mentioned above,
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 of any
kind 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. To water 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
The most common
orchid is probably the Phalaenopsis, also called the Moth Orchid. They
grow in the tops of trees but down lower where they do not get as much
sun. It is for me the easiest to grow as it doesn’t require bright
light. Too much, and the leaves tend to yellow, and too little and they
get a darker green. It is listed in one book as the longest blooming,
lasting two to three months, if it doesn’t get too warm.
When the roots
come climbing out of the pot and wander around, it means things are doing
well. Do not cut off as they can absorb moisture from the humid air. You
can increase the humidity around them 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
the Moth Orchid to bloom, let them experience a cool period of about 60
degrees F. for three weeks. They
will then bloom about the same time every year.
But be careful as 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 down to
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 Osmocote.
Last winter my
greenhouse heater failed and of course the orchids were the first to drop
dead. They need to be above 50
degrees F. in most cases. However, I am back in business as I have been
given several “discards”. Two of them are in bloom right now. One is a
white with a brown center and the other is a yellow one with spots.
favorite is the Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum). The bloom does look like a
slipper for a fat foot. They
also do not require a very bright light as they grow in the decaying
leaves and other debris on the jungle floor. They do not like soil as it
keeps too much moisture against their roots.
They will survive in the soil that has been loosened with sphagnum
moss or fine bark chips. They like high humidity so you can plant them
with other plants or on a pebble tray as mentioned above. Make sure you
keep the water below where it can enter the orchid pot.
Some of the Paphiopedilum orchids have mottled leaves while others
have green ones. The big flowers come in any number of colors and may be
striped or spotted and may bend the stems so I like to add a support in
the pot. One garden center has small ornamental clothes pins shaped like
Butterflies to pin the long orchid stem to a small stake.
Be careful in
watering an orchid or bacterial rot may happen in the leaf axils. After
watering, a facial tissue will absorb drops of water that are stuck.
Slipper Orchids cannot store water like some orchids, so do not let
them dry out!!! Hot sun will burn their leaves, so an east window will be
best. They will need to be
repotted if their media breaks down as it will hold too much water.
There are some
orchids that will grow in soil.