October 26, 2009

Taking Care of Orchids the Easy Way

By Carrie E. Bernstein

Let's face it; orchids are amongst the most beautiful of all tropical flowers, but they have certain needs which need to be met in order to grow them successfully. You also need to bear in mind that when it comes to orchids, the window for error is considerably small, and as such, you need to familiarize yourself with certain facts.


The vast majority of tropical orchids can be grown successfully indoors providing they receive some filtered sunlight during the day. Likewise, they can also be grown in a greenhouse if artificial lighting is used.

In most cases, if you're growing orchids in your home it is best to place the plants close to a window so that they can take full advantage of the natural light, bearing in mind that exposure to direct sunlight can in fact damage the plants.

If you have a window that receives plenty of filtered sunlight then you have an ideal location for growing your orchids. Additional light can be provided if necessary by using special grow lights.

Of course certain species of orchid, such as Phalaenopsis for example, do have special lighting requirements, and tend to do well when provided with indirect bright light during the winter months and shade during the summer.


Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum orchids are two species which require controlled temperatures at night, and the temperature should be maintained between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, irrespective of season. Other species such as Cattleyas for example, prefer nighttime temperatures of between 55 and 60 degrees, while Vandas on the other hand enjoy temperatures between 50 and 58 degrees.

Ventilation and Humidity

Orchids for the most part require specific humidity levels ranging from 45 to 65%. Fortunately, it is possible to maintain airborne moisture simply by using pebble trays. Just fill a small pan with some smallish rocks and then fill the pan with water so that the rocks are just covered. Your plants can then be placed on top of the rocks but you need to ensure that the roots are above the water level.

Periodic misting is also advisable, especially on very warm days in order to provide your plants with some additional humidity. Ideally, you should always try to mist either first thing in the morning or else it should be done around noon. This is so that you minimize the risk of fungi and bacteria attacking your plants.

Ventilation is also extremely important, and as such, you should provide a little bit of space between each of your plants. Additionally, if you cannot leave a window or two open during the day, then you should consider using a small fan instead.

Feeding, Watering, and Drainage Requirements

Providing you can give your orchids a suitable growing environment you shouldn't encounter many problems at all. One such a requirement is that you provide enough drainage, so of course you should never attempt to keep your orchids in pots that are closed underneath.

Contrary to what you may believe, orchids don't require much water at all. In fact you should only water your plants when they are completely dry.

Interestingly enough, most species, such as Cattleyas for example, have a pseudo-bulb structure which helps them to store water just as is the case with cacti.

Phalaenopsis and Vandas on the other hand do not have these bulbs and should therefore be given water once you determine that they are moderately dry.

* All orchids require some extra water during the growing phase.
* The water used for watering your plants should be at room temperature.
* When you water your orchids you need to continue supplying water until you see water draining from below the pot. Also, you should not be tempted to feed your orchids each time you water them.
* Orchids which are in the active growing stage can be fed occasionally with a food that has a 20-20-20 label.
* Those which are finished with the growth stage can be fed a 10-30-20 food due to the fact that they don't require as much nitrogen.
* The vast majority of commercial orchid to foods are highly concentrated, and as such, you'll only require about a quarter of a teaspoon per gallon of water.

Outdoor Orchids

Plants which are grown indoors can be moved outdoors usually during the month of May, at which time you'll need to provide them with a certain amount of shade. Providing you exercise a sufficient amount of caution in terms of where you decide to place your plants, they can be left out for most of the summer.

Some orchids such as Vandas for example really enjoy sunlight, and apart from the hottest time of day, these orchids will do just fine in full sun. In fact, even the flowers will be able to tolerate a full day of sun, while Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum on the other hand will require full shade.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Carrie_E._Bernstein

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