Growing Orchids – How to Grow Orchids

Jun. 11, 2011

Orchids are able to live in all sorts of circumstances – from the rain forest to the arctic circle. You would think since they are so adaptable to almost every environment, they would be able to survive with no problem in homes and gardens.

With selection from the 30,000 species of orchids now identified and hybrids, which number in the 200,000 to 300,000 range, it should be easy to choose the perfect orchid to grow in your particular location.

Even with these facts, orchids are still believed to be difficult to grow. Many of them are indeed difficult but there are so many thousands of orchids, it is usually pretty easy to find one that will successfully grow inside or outside wherever you are located. If you are a beginner, you should start with a mature plant to grow your first orchid.

Growing orchids from seeds is almost impossible. They need sterile conditions and the presence of a special fungus, without which an orchid can never germinate. This is why even orchids send out thousands of seeds having only one or two successfully germinate. It is possible to propagate by division and this is an easier method. Just remember that it could take up to eight years before a plant started in this manner flowers.

Orchids don’t follow many general rules but this one applies to most orchids: Place your orchids, whether inside or outside, in a spot where they will get lots of light. Because light hours are so limited in the winter in colder climates, you will most likely want to install artificial lights to help them grow. Whether you use grow lights or other types of light will depend on the species of orchid you are growing. Check at purchase to see if it needs very high intensity lights or not.

Orchids are not one of those plants you can never water and ignore for months at a time. While they definitely don’t like to be over-watered, orchids do like a once-per-week watering. They should dry out between one watering and the next, but they should never be completely dry. Also, be careful about watering an orchid that was just replanted or has been disturbed in some way. Orchids are also not terribly fond of the dry air created in the winter by most of today’s furnaces. You will most likely need to get a humidifier. Most orchids love hot, humid weather and are not unhappy even with 70% to 80% humidity.

Orchids are fertilizer-lovers. They should be kept fertilized throughout the growing season and especially when they are flowering as most flower for an extended period of time. There is always controversy among gardeners about what fertilizer is best. Overall, liquid fertilizer is preferred. But you can go completely organic, such as with fish emulsions or fertilizer from worm castings. Or, you can use synthetic fertilizers such as 10-10-10, 30-10-10 or 10-10-30. Specific orchid fertilizers are also available.

As for the growing medium itself, everyone has their own favorite formula. It also depends on the type of orchid you are growing. You can use fir bark, coconut fiber, sphagnum moss, peat moss, roots of dried fern, cork, or lava rock, to name several. Some orchid plants are classified as terrestrials and can grow in soil, such as cymbidiums and paphiopedilums.

The easiest orchids for beginners are Cattleyas, Epidendrumns, Oncidiums, and Laelias. Be patient with whichever type of orchid you plant. Intime, your hard work will pay off with long-lasting, beautiful flowers.

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