Monday, April 23, 2018

Orchids are Easy to Grow!

Phalaenopsis orchid, photo courtesy natural

Contrary to what you may have heard, orchids are not difficult to grow. With the proper amount of light, water, humidity, temperature and fertilizer, orchids can thrive! Some types of orchids such as Phalaenopsis or Cattleya can be easier to care for.

Cattleya orchid, photo courtesy

Orchids prefer a very porous growing medium made of materials such as bark, husks, perlite, or clay pebbles, all of which are ideal for the roots to establish themselves and receive adequate air movement. .

Due to the very porous nature of orchid growing mixes, water will readily flow through. You want to water your plants thoroughly to soak the roots and growing medium. A good watering strategy is to place the plant in a sink, water it, enough to wet the medium, wait a few minutes, water it again, repeat this until the medium is well soaked. Drain off any excess. .

Orchids like to dry between watering so don’t water too frequently. You can get a feel for how heavy the container is after watering and if it is lighter than usual then give it a good drink!  While your orchids are actively growing, fertilize them with a houseplant or orchid formulation at a diluted rate (50%) once a month. .

Orchids prefer some humidity and one way to increase the humidity level is to grow your plants in groups or place a dish of water nearby to produce humidity as the water evaporates. I’ve managed to cheat by growing mine near the kitchen sink and dishwasher. .

Sunburn symptoms on orchid leaves can be light to dark brown and will dry up the plant's leaf tissue.  It will not spread once the plant is removed from direct light.  Avoid placing orchids in direct sunlight. .

Colorado gets over 300 days of sunshine per year which is great for our window-bound houseplants.  With the high intensity of the sun you will need to place your orchid in indirect sunlight. Placing your orchid about 2 feet away from an east facing window is ideal. .

Source: Amy Lentz, Weld County Extension: The Orchid: a delicate impossibility or a manageable houseplant?