Orchid Care Information
Orchid plants are amazingly sturdy plants and many of the tropical varieties can be grown and bloomed successfully in your home. Choosing the suitable variety for home or greenhouse growing is most important since we distinguish between ‘warm’ growing and ‘cool’ growing orchids. For home growing without a greenhouse, the ‘warm’ growing varieties, like Phalaenopsis, many Paphiopedilum, Oncidium, and Epidendrum are ideal. For greenhouses, or cooler growing rooms, Cattleyas, many Paphiopedilum, Laelia, and most orchid genera are idea. For cool growing areas of 50º to 70ºF, Cymbidium, Odontoglossum, and Miltonias are the ideal plants.
Creating a growing climate and following simple care requirements will insure growing success. Temperatures, humidity, light, and water are part of this climate.
Temperatures should range between 65º and 85º F. for warm growing orchids; 60º and 80º F. for intermediate growing, and 50º and 75º F. for cool growing varieties. Night temperatures should go to the lower given range whenever possible, while sunny daytime temperatures may go to the higher given range and above. Plants will tolerate higher or lower temperatures but may suffer.
Humidity should be maintained between 30% and 60%. This may be done by placing plants on trays with gravel, by room humidification, by misting plants in the morning, and by keeping plants close proximity with each other away from heating outlets.During the Spring and Summer growing season plants prefer higher humidity, while they will tolerate lower readings during the “dormant” season in winter. Lower temperatures in homes result in higher humidity and better climate for plants generally.
Light is a very decisive factor in growing and blooming your orchid plants. They must be protected from bright sun from March thru September or October. If too much light is given, a plant may suffer leaf damage and dwarfed growth. If too much shade is provided, plants will grow large foliage without blooms. Dark green foliage indicated sufficient or too much shade, while light green or yellow foliage indicates correct or too much sun.
Air is generally suitable for orchid growing except under extreme conditions when adjustments may need to be made. Very humid stuffy growing areas should be ventilated to exchange some air, or a fan should be used to circulate air in basement growing rooms or very crowded greenhouses. Polluted city air will cause bud drop on Phalaenopsis orchids and shorten bloom life on all orchids, there is no cure.
- Water, Feeding, Repotting, and Insect Control:
These are also important factors to be handled by the grower to insure maximum success.
- Plants should be watered thoroughly when the potting medium is dry. The frequency may be at 4-7 day intervals depending on pot size, growing medium, and humidity. Soft-leaved plants without pseudobulbs should not be permitted to dry out severely and may be grown in plastic pots. Plants with pseudobulbs and hard foliage should be permitted to dry out at the root system between each watering. Water with low mineral content or rainwater is best for plants. Do not use softened water. Dehumidifier water, melted snow, or water from ponds or creeks is generally more suitable than high mineral well water.
- Feeding your orchid plants will result in larger plant size and better blooms. High nitrogen formulas, such as 30-10-10 or 5-1-1 are ideal for orchids potted in fir-bark mixes.Frequent light solutions of feeding at 7-14 day intervals are better than monthly stronger feeding. Fish emulsion food if given during Spring – Summer growing season will give excellent results.
- Repotting should be done every 1-2 years by replacing the old decayed fir-bark medium. Large plants may be divided. The best repotting time is Spring and Summer.
- Insect Control:
- Insect control is only required when an infestation occurs. Most available insecticides may be used on orchids if they are suitable for use on houseplants or roses, follow direction on package.
- Outdoor Growing:
When Cattleyas are grown in the home under artificial lights or by a windowsill, it is recommended that they be summered outdoors. Care must be taken to protect the plants from direct sun during midday hours. A Loosely leaved tree usually provides the correct amount of light. In the midwest area they can be kept outdoor as long as night-time temperatures stay above 45º F!