Orchids: Flamboyant, Intriguing, Beautiful and Exotic.
Orchid have to become one of the largest family of plants in the world. If you haven’t grown Orchids, you are missing one of nature’s finest offerings. Orchids are an enhancement to any home and make wonderful gifts.Orchids love comfortable surroundings–temperature, light, humidity, air movement, and so on. As they say, “All the comforts of home.”
A general rule of thumb is the color of the leaves. A healthy Orchid plant in proper light has foliage that is light to medium green with the new leaves showing a soft sheen. Reddish or purplish edges on the leaves indicate the leaves are getting as much light as they can take without burning.
Too much light can bleach out the chlorophyll (green pigment in leaves), causing the leaves to look pale or yellowish-green. If the leaves become very yellow, move the Orchid plant to more shade or provide more shade. Too intense a light or moving a plant from heavy shade to intense light can cause sun scalding–bleached looking spots that turn black, crispy, and dry, looking charred. Not a pretty sight!
Too low light makes it’s foliage dark green, and the plant will not flower well, if at all. If the leaves become dark emerald green, move the Orchid plant to more light or provide supplemental artificial light.
Light and flowering. An Orchid will prosper and live long under lower than desirable light conditions, but generally won’t bloom. In correct light, some Orchid plants will produce a pigment that resemble plum coloured freckles or suntan. This is an almost ideal situation for good blooming. Proper light is more important for good blooming than a good fertilizer regimen.
Generally, your particular temperature conditions will influence your choice of Orchid plants. Orchids are comfortable where the owner is comfortable. Most home temperatures will be acceptable for growing Orchids. There are many Orchids that will do well in the temperature range from 50 to 90°F or 10 to 32°C.
Guard against excessively low or high temperatures next to glass windows. Temperature extremes should be avoided, but an Orchid can survive them.
Most areas with satisfactory temperatures will have adequate humidity. Orchids prefer humidity levels between 40% and 60%. If you have adequate humidity to raise other houseplants, you have enough to raise Orchids.
Most Orchids grow in climates with moist air. Humidity can be raised by misting the leaves every morning, by using a small humidifier, or by setting the pots on pebble trays. A pebble tray is a container containing pebbles or gravel and water. Or, a rack can be placed in the tray. The bottom of the pot sits on the gravel or rack, but does not come in contact with the water.
Along with humidity goes good air circulation. In an Orchid’s natural environment it is exposed to constant breezes. High humidity and stagnant air provide a breeding ground for fungal problems. Good air movement also prevents cold or hot spots, which can make it more difficult for Orchids to grow well. Lacking a nice, airy room, a small fan or a slightly opened window will help the Orchid.
Most Orchids prefer a little drying out between watering. Just how dry depends on the variety. Most Orchid plants tolerate being dryer better than staying soggy. Allow the plants to approach dryness and apply sufficient water so that it drains freely through the container. This also helps to keep salts from building up in the potting media which could cause root burn. Never allow an Orchid to sit in water.
Flowering Orchid plants may require more frequent watering to make up for the greater load of the flowers. Plants with pseudobulbs generally need to dry out more between waterings than those without.
Roots. In general, most Orchids do not tolerate excessive moisture at their roots and need some air circulation around their roots.
The roots tell you if you have good watering habits. They’re white, firm, and fleshy with green tips if the Orchid is healthy. Over watered Orchid plants have few good roots, and many soggy, mushy, brown, dead ones. Increased frequency of watering does not make up for a poor root system. If the roots are not plump and alive, repotting may be called for. The humidity can be raised to compensate for the lack of supporting root uptake. When to water? It is best to water Orchids in the morning or mid-day to allow its foliage to dry before night.
Many Orchids aren’t heavy feeders so fertilizing once or twice a month is adequate. They have an long life span so fertilizer isn’t critical as it is with an annual. One month’s missed fertilizer won’t stop blooming or gravely wound the Orchid.
Orchids can also be fertilized every week with a dilute solution. Fertilize less often during the winter.