Although they are considered exotic, and hard to grow, Orchids are not as hard to grow as you may think.
These beautiful flowering plants are becoming a favourite in many homes and can be grown very successfully in the average home. Over the past few years new cultivars have been created that are easier to grow and do not need a lot of attention.
One of the easiest orchids to grow in the home is the Phalaenopsis orchid. Sometimes referred to as the Moth Orchid because the flowers resemble a flying moth. Phalaenopsis orchids are one of the more popular orchids and are the ones that are most often found in the garden centre. They have large, thick leaves and the blooms grow on long arching stems that rise above the foliage. Some stems can contain as many as 20 flowers, making a beautiful long-lasting show, as the flowers can last for weeks, if cared for properly. The flowers come in various shades of pink, white, purple, yellow or striped. They tend to bloom once a year but sometimes will bloom twice a year if the conditions are right.
“ Place it in an area of the home where it will receive lots of bright, indirect light. An east or north facing window, or a sheltered south facing window works well..."
To grow a Phalaenopsis orchid successfully, it needs to be in the right environment. Place it in an area of the home where it will receive lots of bright, indirect light. An east or north facing window, or a sheltered south facing window works well. Orchids enjoy a high humidity which can be a problem in some homes that have dry air. The most humid areas in the home is the kitchen or bathroom where there is always water being used. Another option would be to place orchids on a pebble tray. A pebble tray is a shallow tray of pebbles filled with enough water, so that the water is just below the top layer of pebbles as you don’t want the orchids to be sitting in water. Pebble trays can be part of the decor by using different colours of decorative pebbles, and decorative trays. You can use large trays and place several different humid loving plants on them along with your orchids. The orchid plants are placed on top of the pebbles and as the water rises and evaporates, it raises the humidity around the plants.
Over-watering kills more orchids than anything else. Orchids prefer to be on the dry side and do not need a lot of water. Give the orchid a good thorough water, using room temperature water, throwing out any excess water so the plant is not sitting in water for any length of time. When you notice the roots that hang outside the pot turn silver/white and the foliage begins to look dull, it is time to water again. When watering the orchid, try not to get water on the growing tip as this will cause it to rot. Phalaenopsis orchids enjoy, even normal house temperatures of 20-28 Celsius during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night. Avoid placing them in areas where there is drafts or outside doors where cold air comes in.
There is not a lot of maintenance involved in growing orchids. Fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer for orchids. After it has finished blooming, remove the flower stem to the first node below the lowest bloom, or if the flower stem is dead, remove the entire stem to the base of the plant. Sometimes an orchid will produce a new stem, but if not, place it in a cooler area of the home which should help it to re-bloom. Transplanting is only done when the plant is not blooming and has become root bound every 2-3 years. Go into a pot one size larger than the one it is in currently. Orchid pots work well as they allow air to the plant’s roots, and always use an orchid mix.