Basic Orchid Culture and Guide

Posted by Team Orchid-Tree on

Orchids are fascinating and you can’t resist the temptation of growing one yourself. Most of the orchids that you get are hybrids specifically made for good looking flowers and easy to care plants. They are easy to grow provided a few basic requirements are met like light and humidity. Orchids, like all plants, need a balance of light, air, water and food to grow and flower well. Growing your orchids successfully at home is important to you as well as to us, most of the hobbyists do not have green-houses to grow plants. Infact you do not need a green house to grow orchids.

Let's discuss more about each of these elements. 

Light

The most common question we get asked is ‘Why is my orchid not flowering even though the plant is growing very healthy lush with dark green leaves and it seems happy too. Without enough light, orchids may produce lush looking growths but no flowers. Not giving orchids enough light is the most common reason for failure to bloom. How much light is enough? The answer to this seemingly simple question is "as much as they will take without burning themselves." This means that the foliage should not be a lush, dark green. Orchids grown under sufficient light will have lighter, somewhat yellow-green foliage and strong upright growths. 

Humidity

Orchids thrive at a humidity of 50 to 80%. If your climatic conditions are as humid as mentioned, your orchids will thrive without any extra effort compared to others who live in less humid places like us in Bangalore. But this condition can be provided at your home by placing the plants on the trays with gravel partially filled with water. These are also called as "Humidity trays". Avoid pots sitting in water and provide good air circulation around plants to avoid fungal and bacterial diseases. Another way of creating humidity naturally is by keeping lot of other plants around the orchids like Ferns, Anthuriums, Bromeliads etc to create a micro humid climate.

Temperature

Providing an environment with the required air temperature and air circulation where your orchids will flourish is very important. In return, your orchids will reward you with their remarkable flowers. The ideal temperatures varies for different species and hybrid orchids, an orchid prefers the same temperatures you do. Most orchids will love temperature between 20°C to 32°C, most hybrid orchids can tolerate slightly higher temperatures. If you are comfortable in an environment so will your orchids be.  if the temperature is high, increase the humidity this way your plants wouldn’t lose much of its moisture from the leaves.  Also spraying of water on the leaves to keep the leaves hydrated would help the plant to cope with high temperatures during warmer days. 

Watering

Without question, more orchids are killed by incorrect watering than by any other reason. Watering of orchids is dependent on a lot of factors like the potting media, pot size, air circulation, humidity, light, and temperature. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magical formula, but there is one easy trick to judge watering. We call it the finger method. It is as easy as poking your finger into the potting medium and feeling the moisture in the pot. If the medium is moist postpone your watering. You can also make out if the pot feels lighter or surface of the potting media looks dry. When orchids are watered, they should be watered well like flooding the pot. Water should be provided until it runs freely from the drainage holes. Not only does this soak the potting medium but it also flushes salts that naturally accumulate.

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Fertilizing

Orchids will grow and flower given that the above-mentioned conditions are met. However, they will thrive when they are regularly fertilized. This is because unlike regular plants which get different nutrients from the soil, orchid plants don’t get any nutrients from the potting medium. The only source of nutrients for orchid plants is from the water. Naturally, water will have nutrients but not to the extent which will help the plants to thrive. We recommend using a balanced formula like NPK 19:19:19 (HighGrow) with micronutrients (Mangala Bio 20) will provide all the nutrients required to grow and flourish. Healthy plants are less susceptible to pests and diseases. 

Repotting

Orchid plants require repotting for two main factors: when potting media breaks down or decomposes and/or plant is getting too big for its present pot or planter. Re-potting with a fresh potting mix will do if the case is potting media breaking down. In the case, plant is getting too big for its present pot, a slightly larger pot is required along with fresh potting medium. The thumb rule for selecting a larger pot for re-potting is, the new pot should be only 1-1.5" larger than the present one.

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Knowing which orchid, you are trying to grow is your key to its cultural requirements, even though we have covered all the general care information for you to get started, we have provided detailed culture information for most common orchids here. To help you get started, we also have a beginner’s orchid collection which is hand picked for you. These collections are selected based on the ease to grow and flower at your home. Explore them here.

Before you get started here are some interesting facts about orchids

There are more than 25,000 documented species of orchid, scientists are finding more every day. Apart from these species, there are thousands of man-made hybrids. The possibilities are endless, start your orchid hobby today.

Orchids have a symmetry similar to human faces. This is the one way in which orchid flowers are different from other flowers, orchids have bilateral symmetry. That is why it is said ‘ When you look at an orchid, it looks right back at you’.

Orchids are masters of deception. Orchids deceive insects into pollinating them. The reproductive parts of many orchid flowers are shaped and colored to look like the kind of insect they hope to attract. Once the insect is interested, the orchid's pollen sticks to the bug until it flies off to find another orchid that it mistakes for a mate.


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