It is a myth that all orchids are necessarily hard-to- grow, expensive, and are only safe in the hands of experienced gardeners. The most commonly available orchids are the Phalaenopsis or Moth Orchids. These so-called “grocery store” orchids are tolerant of the conditions inside most homes and make ideal “beginner” plants for first-time orchid growers. They are also quite inexpensive now due to cloning or tissue-culture reproduction, which has really brought down the prices of these plants in the last decade.
They have long-lasting blooms, often going for several months. The height of their natural bloom season is from November through March, but you will find them for purchase forced into bloom at all times of the year.
Phalaenopsis orchids need lots of air movement, even moisture, and several hours of indirect (but bright) sunlight each day. Avoid direct sunlight, which is too harsh for them.
They prefer temperatures no lower than 60 and not much higher than 85 degrees. They dislike sudden temperature changes. Cold temperatures will cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop. If this occurs, remove the yellow foliage and continue caring for the plant normally.
Water them when dry and allow the soil to dry out between watering. The plant uses more water when it is in flower. However, it does store moisture in its canes, and can withstand short dry periods. Add a weak solution of liquid orchid fertilizer to the water, but cut that back during its blooming time.
And whatever you do, don’t add ice! Despite what the marketers tell you, these tropical plants do not appreciate freezing cold water on their root zones.
Repot them every year or two in a slightly larger pot and use a potting mix specifically formulated for orchids. Your orchids will also appreciate a “summer vacation” outside in a lightly shaded spot, just remember to bring them inside before a frost.
For more about orchid care, visit the National Capital Orchid Society at www.ncos.us, the Maryland Orchid Society at www.marylandorchids.org, or the Virginia Orchid Society at www.vaorchidsociety.org.
~ Japanese Anemones - click here
~ Asters - click here
~ Toad Lily- click here
~ Pink Muhly Grass - click here
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