Orchids are one of the most unique flowers in the world with their elegance and simplicity. With exotic looking blooms and stunning colours, they are incredibly diverse with a beauty rarely matched.
The orchid family is almost the largest in the world, with over 25,000 different varieties. Most are epiphytes, meaning their roots attach themselves to the bark of trees or the surface of other plants. They grow in tropical areas, usually high in the trees where they receive good air circulation and plenty of light. Being epiphytes, orchids do not require soil to grow, and use their roots to absorb moisture and nutrients from the air and any water that has trickled down the surface of the branches they are attached to. When moisture is scarce, they can store water in their thick leaves, stems, and roots.
Orchids are not difficult to care for, but they do need the right conditions to help them grow and thrive. Given good light, proper potting in bark or other breathable materials, and appropriate humidity, an orchid can thrive and re-flower for years in the average home.
Here are some important tips on how to properly care for your orchid plant.
Orchids do not grow in soil. Plant in pots filled with bark chips, peat moss, lava rock, or other loosely packed and breathable materials, which help keep the roots well-aerated and allows water to drain quickly. Many orchids can handle being root-bound, so choose a smaller pot and make sure there are plenty of holes in the pot for drainage.
Orchids do not like to be over-watered! If the pot becomes water-logged, a lack of oxygen will cause the roots to suffocate and rot. They can handle a lack of water much better than too much.
Water about every 5 to 12 days - the potting medium should be dried out before you water. Place the pot of the plant in a bowl of water for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the roots and the potting medium (bark, moss, etc.) to absorb the water up through the drainage holes. Make sure the water in the bowl doesn't go past the lip of your pot or container, otherwise the bark may float away from the roots. After your orchid has soaked for 10 to 15 minutes, lift the pot out of the water and let all the excess drain away.
Since orchids grow in a tropical climate, they like humidity and a fluctuation between day and night time temperatures. The change in temperature is especially important in the autumn and winter months when many orchids initiate their buds, and can help them set their flowers more readily.
The proper light is a key factor in growing healthy orchids. They prefer indirect sunlight where they will receive enough light to bloom but not too much direct sunlight that will cause the plant to burn. Place in a bright window behind a sheer curtain or something else to diffuse the light. You may need to move your orchid to different locations in your rooms, depending on how much light it receives. For bright, sunny rooms, place your orchid further away from the window; move the plant closer to the window in rooms that receive less light. As the seasons change, you may need to move the plant to a new location to ensure it's receiving the proper light.
To determine if your plant has been placed in an ideal location, look at its leaves. They should be a light, grassy green colour when healthy. If the leaves are dark, then your orchid isn't receiving enough light. Yellow, brown, or reddish leaves signal that they're getting too much.
Orchids are not heavy feeders, but you can fertilize them during the active growth season, spring and summer, when new leaves are being produced. During this time, use an orchid fertilizer every other time you water. Using too much can burn the roots. Many orchids need a rest period, usually during the winter months, when watering and feeding should be reduced.
For More Information
Interested in orchid plants? Come and visit us at Art's Nursery to see our gorgeous selection and talk to our knowledgeable staff. If you’re making a special trip, please call ahead to confirm availability: 604.882.1201.