Orchids are expensive and very difficult to grow. These are the two most prevalent myths. The following basic information about orchids will hopefully dispel those. Yes, some exotic orchids are indeed expensive. You can buy orchids from as little as $30. The most expensive orchid I found is the P.rothschildianum (very endangered) from Malaysia which can cost upwards of $5,000. Considering that an orchid can give us beautiful blooms, for many weeks, even months, and this year after year, the initial cost for a healthy, beautiful orchid is probably not what will stop you from buying one.
Myth number two is often what stops us from acquiring an orchid: Orchids are difficult to grow. Growing orchids successfully is no more difficult than growing many other indoor plants. You just have to have some basic information about orchids, such as:
1. Soil: must be well draining and either spaghnum moss, bark or special orchid soil, depending on the type of orchid.
2. Temperature range: 55degF to 80degF (12C to 27C). Perennial garden orchids can tolerate subfreezing temperatures.
3. Light: Indirect light is key. Some type of orchids like a lot of light, some need little light. Again, avoid direct sunlight as it will burn the leaves.
4. Watering needs: Orchids should only be watered about every 5-8 days, depending on the size of the pot and the type of soil. Over-watering is deadly for orchids.
5. Frequency of adding fertilizer: This is probably one of the trickiest parts. Orchids need specific fertilizers. The frequency and concentration however, varies with the seasons and the plants themselves.
6. Humidity requirements: Relative humidity levels of 40% or higher should be maintained. You can provide these levels, locally around your orchids by setting the pots on a water tray. This creates a micro-climate of higher humidity around the orchids as the water in the tray evaporates.
The above list is a very brief summary and will get your started. Let’s move on to a quick overview about types of orchids, now that I have hopefully de-mystified orchid care.
Orchids have more types, or species, and variations than any other plant family: over 20,000 types and over 100,000 hybrid combinations. Orchids have the rare ability cross-breed with other types, often resulting in a stronger plant. Growers are constantly creating new combinations of color, leaf shapes or scents, by mixing and matching different orchids
There are two basic ways in which orchids grow. Epiphytic orchids grow “in the air”, attached to tree trunks and branches. No, you will not need a tree in your living room. Growing epiphytic orchids in your home simply means that they are grown on bark-type material in special pots, instead of in soil. For these orchids it is important that air can circulate around the roots, as if the plants were living on a tree. Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis orchids are examples.
Terrestrial orchids grow in soil (terra), such as sphagnum moss or special orchid soil. These orchids have what is called tuber roots from which the leaves and flower stems grow in any which direction. Lady slippers are an example of terrestrial orchids, as are Cymbidiums.
Start with orchids that are easy to grow, such as denrobium or phalaenopsis. Hopefully, the orchid care information above will guide you well to have spectacular long-lasting blooms.
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