Orchids

July 20th, 2009

Here is what you need to consider in order to grow healthy orchids:

  1. Planting medium
  2. Air conditions
  3. Water
  4. Light

1. Choose the right plant medium

One of the quickest ways to kill an orchid is to plant it in potting soil. Most orchids are epiphytes: in nature, they grow in trees, not in the ground. So to best replicate their natural habitat, we growers need to plant them in tree-like materials. The main difference between soil and tree-like materials are how well they drain water: soil is more likely to stay soggy. Good orchid mediums include fir bark, coconut fiber, shagnum moss, charcoal granules and peat moss. Orchids can even grow quite nicely when mounted on a simple peice of wood.

2. Pay attention to the air in your home

For orchids to grow to their optimum potential, they need 2 important things from the air around them:

1) Circulation

2) Humidity

Air Circulation: Since orchids in nature grow high up on trees, they are accostumed to feeling a lot of wind. Plenty of air circulation is important for orchids because this prevents disease and fungus. It also helps the water evaporate more quickly, therefore helping the orchid roots to not rot. If the room where your orchid plant lives is sealed off from air movement, you should consider placing a small fan near them.

Humidity: Orchids are native to tropical rainforests where the humidity ranges from 60% to 90%. Most people’s homes have humidity of about 30%. Air conditioners and heaters reduce humidity even more. SInce orchids get a lot of their moisture from the air, it is very important that we provide this to them. There are many ways to easily provide your orchids with humid conditions:

  • Place the orchid near the kitchen sink or bathroom shower.
  • Purchase a humidifier and place it near the orchid plant
  • Fill a tray with water and gravel and place the orchid pot on top of it (Make sure the orchid plant rests on the gravel and is not touching the water!)

3. Don’t over water

Water your orchids thoroughly each time, so that all of the bark or moss gets wet. Make sure the water is allowed to flow through the pot and out the bottom freely. Water your orchids with filtered water that does not contain any salt: this is very important since salt is toxic to orchids. Once you’ve watered it well, leave it alone for awhile -even up to a week. Orchids don’t need a lot of water. If your orchid’s roots are plump and white with green tips, you know you’re doing the right thing.

4. Give your orchid the right amount of light

Too much light (and heat) will burn an orchid’s leaves. Not enough light will result in weak growth and no blooms. Imagine really strong sunlight filtered through leaves in a forest: that is the kind of light that is best for orchids. Place them so that they receive a lot of light through a window, but not so close to the window that they will get burned. You may need to experiment. Indoors, it is most likely that an orchid will die because of insufficient light rather than too much.

Orchids