Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Growing Orchids

Growing Orchids
Growing up in South Florida that is when the wonderful fascination of plants, which began and later became my exciting career as a horticulturist. As a horticulturist, you begin to notice the oddities in the plant world; you notice a plant growing roots without having the soil medium to grow in, just lying on the ground, growing roots, and flowers. Most people believe Orchids are hard to grow and afraid of even trying these beautiful beauties. Orchids are classified from easy to extremely difficult to grow even for professional Orchid growers. In this article, we will deal with some of the most common orchids to grow for future Orchid enthusiast a little confidence to take the wonderful journey of growing Orchids.

Denbrobium Orchid
Orchids are no different from other plant species in the plant kingdom because Orchids need the same  essential care as other plants: light, water, fertilizer, potting medium, and a special pot to grow in called an Orchid pot, which has aeration holes along the pot’s sides. Orchids also require an essential temperature and humidity range for success. A general rule of thumb is outside temperatures should not fall below 40° at night whether the Orchid is in a greenhouse or placed outside in the garden. If, the temperature does fall to around 40° to 50° make sure the greenhouse heat is around this temperature range. When cold weather comes to sub-tropical locations and your Orchids are growing on trees just water the Orchid and try, if you can, wrap the Orchid with a freeze blanket. During the winter months, you can increase the humidity around your potted Orchids in your home by adding a saucer under the Orchid pot filled with pebbles and water. The water should be level or even with the pebbles. This will increase the humidity around your Orchids during the winter months, during which the air is a little drier because of your home’s heating system.

As a horticulturist, I was fascinated by Orchids and wanted to learn more, so by going to Orchid shows and trying different ways to care for the Orchids I came up with this recipe to care for Orchids. Recommended Orchids for beginning Orchid enthusiast are Cattleya, Dendrobium, Oncidium, and Phalaenopsis Orchids.

Cattleya – Bright filtered light, 35 to 50 percent shade. Water - almost dry between waterings. Fertilize twice a month. Temperature 70° - 85° days and 55° - 65° nights. Humidity 40 to 70 percent.

Dendrobium Orchid
Dendrobium – Filtered light, brighter in the winter months, 25 to 50 percent shade. Water - keep moist, drier in the winter months. Fertilize twice a month. Temperature 70° - 90° days and 45° - 65° nights. Humidity 50 to 70 percent.

Oncidium - commonly known as “Dancing Ladies” – Bright filtered light, 35 to 65 percent shade. Allow to dry out between waterings. Fertilize twice a month. Temperature 70° - 85° days and 50° - 65° nights. Humidity 40 to 75 percent.

Phalaenopsis - commonly known as “Moth Orchid” – Moderate light, 70 to 80 percent shade, no direct sun. Water - keep evenly moist; avoid water on the leaves and the crown (center of the Orchid). Fertilize twice a month. Temperature 65° - 90° days and 55° - 70° nights. Humidity 50 to 75 percent.

Candy Stripe Phalaenopsis - Moth Orchid
Orchid Fertilizer – The American Orchid Society (AOS) recommends and endorses Better-Gro®Orchid Plus®Fertilizer and Better Gro®Orchid Bloom Booster® Fertilizer. AOS also recommends alternating Better-Gro®Orchid Plus®Fertilizer and Better Gro®Orchid Bloom Booster®Fertilizer. Being a horticulturist, I do not recommend any product until after trying the product myself and after using both Better-Gro®Orchid Fertilizers convinced me that their Orchid Fertilizers were the better choice than what I had previously used in the past. Better-Gro®Orchid Fertilizers have two different dilution rates depending on how frequently you water your Orchids just follow the directions on the package and you will have blooming and healthier Orchids in no time. For more information on the American Orchid Society click here.

Orchid Pots and Potting Medium – There are several Orchid pots and Potting medium available on the market today, and as a horticulturist, I will recommend the tried and true. An Orchid pot will usually have 4 to 5 vertical slits going around the pot or an intricate design of holes instead of the traditional vertical slits, in addition to the vertical slits or holes, there will be a center drainage hole. The purpose for the vertical slits and/or holes running down the sides of the Orchid pot are for aeration and drainage required by most Orchids. The most popular Orchid pots are the Terra cotta and the ceramic pots. Orchid potting medium usually comprises of different materials of chunky bark, charcoal, perlite, and lava rock. All these materials assist in the drainage and aeration that is imperative to healthy Orchid growth. 

You now have a simple recipe for Orchid success and most Orchids enjoy the same temperature and humidity that humans do. The Orchids mentioned in the article are not hard to grow and a wide selection should be available at your local garden center. Start now and enjoy a little bit of the tropics in your home.

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Photography and digital images are ©Cheryl Ann Meola Photography 2012. All Rights Reserved. All photographs and digital images displayed in this article are for viewing purposes only and cannot be duplicated. ©Cheryl Ann Meola 2012. Texas Certified Nursery Professional #1282.

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