Before you begin reading on orchid care it is very helpful to understand the habit or nature of orchids.
This will help you gain a better understanding of its needs and make it thrive.
Firstly, most orchids are epiphytes, as in they grow on top of other plants.
Most orchids are found growing on the bark of trees in wet regions. Their roots are specilized and used to grip onto
surfaces. The roots are also covered in a fine layer of material that helps absorb and retain water from humid air or
brief showers. Along with catching water, the roots also abosrb nutrients from the air and deacying leaf detritus that
builds up near the plant which do not provide a lot of nutrients. The plant itself usually consists of a column of leaves
(monopodial like vandas and phals) or several seperate psuedobulbs (sympodial like oncidiums and cattleyas) with
leaves coming out of the top. The psuedobulbs act to store water and food for periods of no rain, those without
psuedobulbs have very succulent leaves capable of holding lots of water (this is why it is ok to let the media dry out
between waterings!). Most orchids can actually survive more than a month without watering because of this. Because
they live amongst the branches of trees, they have protection from UV radiation. In their natural habitat, most
light is blocked out by the tree leaves yearound. That is why orchids require indirect sunlight and should have
shade directly above them at all times. The flowering is usually initiated in winter, in anticipation of spring.
Flowering is specialized, and most orchids have their own unique pollinator that they have evolved to accept.
Flowers are often very hardy to withstand sudden downpours and winds, which is why they last so long indoors.
Seed pods often take months to mature and most produce seeds by the millions the size of dust particles.
These seeds require a symbiotic fungus found in their native habitats to initiate germination. This is often done
in the lab via nutrient cultures.
So now that you know how orchids grow in the wild, you can apply it to growing in the home! Remember orchids occur
naturally and conditions outside your home are much more harsh. Most cultivated orchids are very hardy and require
little care. In fact, the more you fret and mess with your orchids, often the worse it does. Letting an orchid become
adjusted to its location and not overwatering or feeding will allow it to thrive. So let's get started!
The blooms of your orchids will stay fresh longer if you follow these simple steps:
Water your plants properly. (Follow instructions below)
Do not let water stagnate in between their leaves or any nooks, as it promotes bacterial growth/
rot that will happen very rapidly overnight killing the plant or causing severe damage.
Do not let plants sit in water, as bacteria will grow and cause roots to rot and the plant will die.
Do not water them too often. When you do, make it in the morning or during the day so water
has time to dry off of leaves.
Watering depends on the time of year, the potting medium, and if using decorative pots.
General rule of thumb is if the potting material is already damp, there is more than enough water!
Allowing the media to dry out between waterings if beneficial and may only take a few days in
hot summer air but may take 3-4 weeks inside during the winter!
Do not expose them to excess air movement. Even the slightest air movement over long periods of time
will cause buds to dry out and die. The air movement around the plant if too great causes the humidity
to decrease causing a desert like condition. Avoid air conditioners, heaters, radiators, fans,
any appliance with a fan e.g. a fridge.
Do not place them next to or on top of heat sources (radiators, refrigerators,...) as these heat
sources continuously dry the air around them and this will desiccate your plants.
Do not expose them to direct sun in the middle of the day. Leaves will burn & flowers will wilt.
Maintain reasonable temperatures: day time temperatures from 70 F to 85 F and night time temperatures
from 60 F to 65 F will keep your blooms fresh for the longest time.
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