“An orchid in a deep forest sends out its fragrance even if no one is around to appreciate it.”
Luckily, you do not need to visit a deep forest to enjoy the beauty of an orchid as you can grow them easily in your home. Orchids are one of the most commonly grown houseplants but they need certain conditions for their growth. There are also some specific cultural requirements depending on the species that are needed to promote flowering.
In this article, we will share some culture tips of the main types of orchids so that they can be grown with ease.
The first thing to note is that like other houseplants, orchids do not grow in soil. They can be grown in different types of growing media which include bark, moss or stones. Mostly, the medium should be loosely packed so that there is sufficient airflow and good drainage. In nature, orchids grow by attaching themselves to trees by their roots. They live off the rainwater that flows down the tree and also collect nutrients from the air. So depending on the type of orchid that you choose, you will need to pick the growing medium.
Overwatering is one of the biggest mistakes that people tend to do with orchids. It is necessary to keep in mind that keeping the orchid in a water-logged pot will cause the rotting of the roots that will kill it fast. The roots need availability of oxygen to help them breathe. Most orchids need watering one in a week and the roots need to get dry before they are watered once again. There are a few species which need more watering but for beginners, it is best to select orchids that you can water once a week. Orchids also like a high level of humidity but with sufficient ventilation to stay healthy.
Most orchids also need a significant temperature difference between the night and day. This difference can be as large as ten degrees and during autumn and winter, this initiates the formation of flower buds. In general orchids can be classified as warm growing, intermediate and cool growing. While orchids like phalaenopsis are warm growing, the cymbidiums and odontoglossum are cool growing. However, most orchids can withstand higher and lower temperatures without suffering from any damage.
It must be noted that light requirements vary from one orchid species to another. Exposing the orchids to higher levels of light can cause leaf burns and other damages to the plant. Orchids are classified based on light requirements and the categories are high, medium and low. The higher or lower amount of light will also have an adverse impact on the flowering of the plant. Note that like other houseplants, rich dark green leaves are not ideal for orchids. Leaves with light to medium shades of yellow in them indicate that the plant is getting healthy amounts of light.
For most orchids, a southern or eastern-facing window is the best option. Western windows offer too much light during the hottest part of the day which can result in the burning of the leaves. Since the light levels vary depending on the season, the plant may need repositioning as needed. Keep in mind that orchids can also be grown under artificial light. Both fluorescent tubes and cool-white bulbs can be used to provide the necessary amount of light. But, some species like vandas, cattaleyas or cymbidiums will thrive best in natural light.
Proper and balanced use of fertilizers is also needed for orchids to thrive. In most cases, a weak solution of 20-10-20 fertilizer once a weak will be sufficient for the plant. At the same time, the plants need to be watered with plain water at regular intervals so that any salt left behind in the roots is washed off. In some seasons, bloom boosting fertilizers with higher phosphorus and lower nitrogen, can also be used.
If you think that growing orchids need a greenhouse, you are very wrong. By following this tips, they can be grown over windowsill and balconies with ease.