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How To Take Care Of Orchids

How To Take Care Of Orchids
  •    News
  •    April 20, 2017
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How To Take Care Of Orchids

Orchids have very widely varying light needs and understanding the appropriate amount of light for the type of orchid is essential to their care. Even ‘high light’ orchids do not require the kind of bright direct sunshine that a tomato plant does and even ‘low light’ orchids will not be happy indefinitely in the middle of a room far from any light source. Even a North window can be too little light for low light orchids to bloom reliably but a South window may need some shading. In fact, it is often inadequate light that inhibits orchid blooming. Some orchids, especially those which like high light levels, enjoy being summered outside in dappled shade and for many high light orchids that is the easiest way, to give them enough light to bloom. If high light orchids are to remain indoors, many will not bloom reliably without some sort of supplemental light unless they are in a very bright sun room or greenhouse. Fortunately, fluorescent bulbs with broad spectrum bulbs work fairly well with orchids, as do High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights. Also, in nature orchids get natural light cues. The days get longer and then get shorter. In our homes we have lights on at night and tend to keep a regular schedule year-round and this can throw off an orchid’s natural clock.
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How To Take Care Of Orchids

Another difference between orchids and many houseplants is that in nature most orchids experience a big difference between day and night temperatures. Manipulating the temperature of the home so it will drop at least 10 degrees at night, especially in autumn and winter when many orchids initiate buds, will induce the orchids to set flower buds more readily. Achieve this by lowering the temperature on the thermostat. This little trick can mean the difference between an orchid plant that merely lives, and one that thrives and flowers. Orchids are usually classified as warm growing, intermediate and cool growing, with regard to their temperature needs. Many tolerate exposure to warmer or cooler temperatures without suffering damage. The temperature groupings refer to the lowest temperature the orchid prefers during winter nights. Warm-growing orchids, such as phalaenopsis, sulk if temperatures drop much below 60 F. Intermediate growers, such as cattleyas, prefer winter nights around 55° F. Cool-growing orchids, including cymbidiums and odontoglossums, are accustomed to winter nights of 50 F. At the other extreme, most orchids perform poorly when exposed to temperatures above 90° F.
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How To Take Care Of Orchids

Many orchids are rewarding indoor plants. Once a home owner has succumbed and bought his or her first orchid, or received one as a gift, meeting a few cultural requirements will coax the plant to flower again. Orchids are far tougher and hardier than most people think, and are, by and large, extremely adaptable. There is a long-standing myth that orchids are difficult, if not impossible, to grow, especially without a greenhouse. With at least 20,000 species and some 100,000 artificial hybrids, there are some notoriously fussy orchids. But there are many rugged, popular, easy-to-grow types that adapt to the temperatures and light conditions found on the average home windowsill. Explore the options and assemble a collection that will put forth exotic flowers year-round. Orchids are different from other houseplants. Unlike ferns, philodendrons, palms and Swedish ivy, orchids do not grow in soil. Potting an orchid in soil is actually one of the best ways to kill it. Most orchids in the wild are not rooted in the ground, but instead attach themselves by thick roots to the sides of trees and on branches. Clinging to the bark, the plants absorb water and nutrients from the air and rain and whatever drips down the tree. They are adapted to surviving when rain is scarce, hoarding water in thick leaves, stems and roots

How To Take Care Of Orchids

The orchid family has over 880 different types (called genera) and over 22,000 species. These numbers are growing every year making orchids the largest and most diverse of the flowering plant families. Most orchids are tropical plants which live as epiphytes or “air plants” hanging on to trees for support. Some orchids are lithophytes or “rock plants” growing on or among rocks. The remaining orchids are terrestrials which grow in the loamy detritus of the jungle floor. With a plant family this diverse it is challenging to give general guidelines on orchid care. Yet, there are only several dozen species widely produced and even fewer that are available at a local nursery. Our Orchid Identification page provides a basic introduction to many of the popular types of orchids. The plants sold at nurseries, florists, hardware chain stores and groceries are likely to be hybrids. These hybrids have been created by crossing different species, and sometimes different genera to breed in desirable characteristics such as color, fragrance, flower size and ease of care and breed out many of the challenging care aspects of pure orchid species. Today’s orchid hybrids are very rewarding house plants to grow and are relatively easy to care for if you take a little time to understand their basic needs.
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How To Take Care Of Orchids

Understand the differing needs of terrestrial and epiphyte orchids. Many orchids are epiphytic (tree- or branch-growing) and require very different growing media than terrestrial orchids; indeed, orchids are commonly killed by being planted in soil when they’re not a soil type orchid. Epiphytes have thick, fleshy roots used to attach themselves to trees or bark and to absorb water and nutrients; others have aerial roots that will grow unattached. Epiphyte orchids grow best in soilless mixtures or attached to pieces of bark or cork. Epiphytic orchids require a growing media with extremely good aeration and drainage.
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How To Take Care Of Orchids

Tips Fertilizing: Orchids require regular fertilization to grow and flower properly, but too much fertilizer can quickly damage plants. Water-soluble types of fertilizer specifically formulated for orchids are available at most garden centers and are easy to use. One of the fastest ways to kill an orchid is to let it sit in a waterlogged pot. The frequency of watering depends on the type of orchid, media, light conditions, container characteristics and temperature. Apply soluble fertilizers monthly, according to the rates recommended on the label. A dilute fertilizer solution can be used to water plants weekly during the growing season. Each month, use plain water to rinse any accumulated fertilizer salts out of the pot. After flowering, when the foliage growth stops, reduce water and fertilizer applications until new leaf production starts again. Orchids growing in bark require fertilizer with a higher ratio of nitrogen, such as 30-10-10 or 15-5-5. Mounted orchids and those not planted in bark grow well with even formula fertilizer ratios, such as 20-20-20. A “bloom-booster” type formulation can be used in the autumn that has a higher phosphorus formulation (the middle number), such as 10-30-20. More frequent watering may be required for plants in clay or small pots and those growing in open bark mixes. In these cases, watering twice per week is usually satisfactory. Orchids rest after flowering; watering should be reduced at this time. In general, when orchids are actively growing, water once per week and allow them to dry slightly before the next watering. At each watering, apply enough water so that some drains from the bottom of the pot. Water is especially critical for phalaenopsis, because they do not have organs (pseudo bulbs) for water storage. Do not let phalaenopsis completely dry out. Water thoroughly, and do not water again until nearly dry throughout the container. Do not allow water to remain on the leaves or in the leaf axils, as this may readily lead to disease and death.
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How To Take Care Of Orchids

Fertilizing: Orchids require regular fertilization to grow and flower properly, but too much fertilizer can quickly damage plants. Water-soluble types of fertilizer specifically formulated for orchids are available at most garden centers and are easy to use. One of the fastest ways to kill an orchid is to let it sit in a waterlogged pot. The frequency of watering depends on the type of orchid, media, light conditions, container characteristics and temperature. Apply soluble fertilizers monthly, according to the rates recommended on the label. A dilute fertilizer solution can be used to water plants weekly during the growing season. Each month, use plain water to rinse any accumulated fertilizer salts out of the pot. After flowering, when the foliage growth stops, reduce water and fertilizer applications until new leaf production starts again. Orchids growing in bark require fertilizer with a higher ratio of nitrogen, such as 30-10-10 or 15-5-5. Mounted orchids and those not planted in bark grow well with even formula fertilizer ratios, such as 20-20-20. A “bloom-booster” type formulation can be used in the autumn that has a higher phosphorus formulation (the middle number), such as 10-30-20. More frequent watering may be required for plants in clay or small pots and those growing in open bark mixes. In these cases, watering twice per week is usually satisfactory. Orchids rest after flowering; watering should be reduced at this time. In general, when orchids are actively growing, water once per week and allow them to dry slightly before the next watering. At each watering, apply enough water so that some drains from the bottom of the pot. Water is especially critical for phalaenopsis, because they do not have organs (pseudo bulbs) for water storage. Do not let phalaenopsis completely dry out. Water thoroughly, and do not water again until nearly dry throughout the container. Do not allow water to remain on the leaves or in the leaf axils, as this may readily lead to disease and death.

How To Take Care Of Orchids

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