Growing Healthy Orchids

Growing Healthy Orchids

So you’ve got an orchid – now what?  Some folks may be scared about how “delicate” or “hard to care for” they hear orchids are, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Orchids, like any plant, are as easy or as hard as you make them out to be.  So, what’s the easiest way to grow orchids?

To grow any plant is to understand light

All plants that we grow are living solar panels.  They only get their food by collecting the energy and heat from the sun.  There are no calories in water; there are no calories in air; there are no calories in the soil or medium.  Plants only can grow by how much direct light they get.  That’s why there’s no such thing as a low light plant!

For any orchid that you do not know the name or cultivar of, the safest place for them is in an east or west window which gets 2-5 hours of direct sun, or in a greenhouse area that gets 0-3 hours of direct sun.  Be aware of how warm it may get in that location.  A few orchids will refuse to bloom if they are kept too hot, but will still grow vegetatively.

To grow any plant is to understand water, humidity, and airflow

Watering, while being the second most important factor, is often posted about so much that folks think that it’s the first most important thing.  In reality, there exists for every plant a range of acceptable conditions, and proper watering is just giving the plant what it wants when it wants, within a range.  As a failsafe rule, you may always water when it’s dry, regardless of how many days have passed.  Instead of asking “how many days do I need to water this?”, ask yourself how quickly it takes for conditions to get dry wherever you are keeping the plant.  That, plus airflow and humidity, will dictate how often to water.  Higher humidity and lower airflow will mean a longer interval between waterings.  Lower humidity and higher airflow will mean more frequent waterings.  Always saturate the plant as if a rainstorm had happened.

To grow any plant is to understand media and fertilizer

Orchids are mostly epiphytes – plants that grow on other plants but don’t parasitize them.  They like to be planted in bark ships, tree fern fiber, or anything that will mimic their native habitat.  They glean nutrients from whichever medium you plant them in.  If you are planting in a medium that degrades over time, it’s important to repot every year or two.  Fertilizer can coax out blooms or more vegitation.  Withholding fertilizer during winter is key to making some orchids bloom.

To grow any plant is to understand temperature

Plants take temperature cues to grow and bloom.  Ensure that you ask whomever you are purchasing your plants from how cool or hot the plants like it.

To grow any plant is to select the best

Don’t try to rescue a plant especially if you are not that experienced with plants.  The mark of a plant expert is knowing when not to waste time saving something that will require an extraordinary amount of effort, or is too far gone.  Be sure to inspect your plants for pests and diseases.

To grow any plant is to deal with pests and fungi swiftly

Pests and fungi can spread and affect other plants in your collection.  Be sure to treat any pests or fungi accordingly as you see them.  When growing indoors, it’s possible to eradicate pests, whereas in greenhouses or outdoors, you’ll need to learn to live with them in a low population, as it’s nigh impossible to completely eradicate pests.