February 23, 2009

Tips For Growing Orchids

I love orchids- they are one of the most beautiful flowers to have around, if not one of the easiest plants to cultivate. It does not need to be impossible, and I hope with a few of these handy orchid growing tips, you can improve your own collection.

It is always important to stake your orchids as they are growing. There are many different kinds of stakes available, but ten-inch bamboo skewers you can get at your local grocery stores often work the best. Another option is to use a dried out stick from a tree for a more natural look.

It is a good idea to use color-coded electrician's tape, which you can pick up at any hardware store, to mark plants with special needs, or those that need follow-up attention to damage done by fungi or other pests. You can mark out which ones need extra water, which ones are infested with scale, and which ones are dormant.

Use plant clips, which are available all over the internet and at many orchid shows. You can get them in different varieties, including dragonfly, bee, and small butterfly clips. These clips are great for perfectly displaying your flowers and for keeping your spikes upright. These clips can also be used to show the color that the flowers will be on each plant. This makes keeping track of everything easier, especially when you have a lot of orchids to deal with!

You should use hanging baskets for growing dendrobiums, as they are tall, thin, and like to fall down anyway. Gravity is a great way to keep them growing straight, if not straight up!

Color-coded spritz bottles are a great way to keep track of your different sprays. You can have them for insecticide, fungicide, plain water, and whatever else you spray on your plants. You can mark your bottles with more electricians' tape, or you can easily find and purchase different colored bottles at just about any garden center. By using different colors, this makes it harder to spray the wrong thing on the wrong plant because you can always tell at a glance what is in your bottle.

If you water or mist your plants in the morning instead of the evening the heat and air movement of the day will help prevent the growth of mold, which grows on plants that are damp over night.

Bamboo skewers make great watering gauges to tell whether you need to water any given plant. Cut a skewer an inch higher than the depth of your potting medium and keep it in there. To check if it's time to water your plant, pull out the skewer and hold it to your lip or cheek. If it's dry, it's time to water, but if it's still wet, you should wait. Each orchid absorbs water at a different, rate, so you will need to repeat this process with each of them when making your rounds with the watering can.

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