Orchids...I do not even know where to begin,I have long admired orchids and just as surprised to know they do not require a lot of care, or I should say, professional care. Orchids come in thousands of varieties of species and countless hybrids. A selected few can be found in your local garden centers. Costco and Trader Joe's are common centers that carry the friendly breed of orchids. Which means, these chosen few can grow indoors and in your OWN living rooms. I am sure you already have encountered an orchid specie in your own kitchen. Vanilla is extracted from the seedpod of the genus Vanilla orchid, naturally grown in tropical regions.
The rain forest is the natural habitat of orchids. Most orchid plants come from the tropical climates but they grow in any climate and in any country, even in cold regions like the Alps and Alaska. With the influx of new hybrids, ORCHIDS easily acclimate to any environment with the proper lighting, watering, air, and fertilizer. Most variety of orchids can bloom from once to 4 times a year. Depending on the species, the blossoms can last for weeks to months. Most plants you buy from the garden centers already come in full bloom for you to enjoy the instant beauty. For this post, I would like to focus on the type of orchids that commonly thrive in our normal living room settings.
I am not an expert grower by any means, but I have grown a few and rescued some bad ones from my own neglect. Even those that looked like they were clinging to the last thread of life, I was advised to continue the care and sure enough it spruced up over time. Orchids are not that delicate as they appear and with the proper environment and loving patience, it will survive. If I can do it, so can you!
This plant, left by the window through the winter, was on hibernation the last few months but new buds are starting popping up. I should start seeing some blossoms in a few months, or maybe weeks. Here are few tips I gathered from the experts:
- Strong light, but not direct late-afternoon sunlight. Find the right spot by your window or window counter by your kitchen with filtered/indirect sunlight. It always works!
- High humidity-occasionally, allow the plant to sit near your shower room or near your kitchen faucet so it can get the vapor exposure from the hot water. I have not done this for awhile, yet I am still getting great flowers. This shows that they are far from being delicate with the proper care implemented.
- Allow turbulent air flow around the roots. Regular periods of drying, alternating with drenching rain-that is 'watering' for the home growers. Do not over stuff the pot with barks.
- Maintain temperatures between 50 degrees and about 85 degrees.
Most orchids are considered 'air plants', which means they grow outside the soil and will not require too much watering. The barks or the special potting mix will absorb the water and become the source of nutrients. Above photo is a good example to avoid. The pot contains the wet moss packed around the plant, this kind of environment is to be avoided. If left without a period of drying, it will eventually kill the plants. Weekly watering is recommended during the summer months. Let the water drench the roots and fill up the pebble tray (this will provide extra humidity). During the growing season, weekly application of a weak solution of powder or liquid fertilizer is recommended. Many growers use Peter’s 20/20/20 fertilizer diluted at quarter strength. There are organic manufactured fertilizers available and homemade recipes (here) that are easy to follow. During winter months, keep your plants warm and water monthly. Mist it every so often to make sure it stays hydrated. Don't fertilize it.
Orchid pots come in plastics or clay pots that have holes at the base so water can easily run through the potting mix. Orchid mix are commercially available and often made from charcoal, bark chunks and foam material.
So there you have it... it is not bad as it looks. Just find the right table or counter by your window, set the orchid pot on a pebbled tray, water it weekly (run water from your faucet or use water spray bottle to avoid carrying the pot to your sink), fertilize as per manufacturer's recommendation (I do not necessarily fertilize it regularly-that's how easy it is, but imagine if I do), set it and forget it! You may have long months of waiting but you will be rewarded with endless beauties to enjoy.