Orchids are simply amazing!
They can adapt to any given environment which is why these exotic beauties comprise the largest family of flowering plants on earth, with over 30,000 different species, and at least 200,000 hybrids!
Orchids are not as difficult to care for as people believe, they could actually be some of the easiest plants to look after. However, you must get the species that will thrive in your environment and it must be placed in the right place. Once you get this right, you’re good to go, and you can start that amazing orchid garden.
The most important thing to note about orchids is that they must not be planted in soil. Most orchids are epiphytes – they grow on the branches and trunks of trees.
An epiphyte is a plant that grows above the ground supported parasitically by another plant or object and deriving its nutrient from rain, air, dust etc.
You can hang your orchid on the bark of a tree and if it must be planted in a pot, use charcoal, dried tree bark or coconut husks as your planting medium so the roots are never sitting in water.
So where do you want your orchids? On your kitchen window? Or in your small garden? See below useful tips you need to plant your orchids.
Orchids should be watered every other day if they are outside because of evaporation and transpiration. Water orchids from the top and let the excess water drain through.
Also read the watering instructions that came with the orchid as water requirements vary, Cattleyas for instance like to be kept relatively dry; but dendrobiums should be watered profusely during the growing season so that they can produce elegant flowers.
After the growing season, they can be left to dry out in between waterings so that they do not lose their dormant root system.
Orchids also love being sprayed. Get a sprayer filled with water and spray once a week, particularly if the orchid is indoors and does not experience rainfall.
This is very important. Orchids want light but in moderation. So you need to pick a place that is bright but has no direct sunshine.
They do really well in moderate light because they originate from tropical regions. So if you want the best results, make sure to provide a light that is not too strong. If it’s a very sunny day, you may have to find some sort of shield for your plants.
Tip: If your orchids look darker than normal, it’s because they are not getting enough light. If the leaves are yellow, the light is too much.
3. Buying healthy plants
No, you shouldn’t just buy by the roadside. You want to make sure you acquire a healthy, quality plant when you are just starting out.
Make sure you inspect the roots, as they are a visible indicator of the plant’s health. You should also look for bright green leaves. Yellow leaves indicate an orchid in distress.
If you are just starting out, the last thing you need is a defective plant on your hands. You can also judge the blooms. How do they look to you? Do they look healthy? Smell healthy too?
4. Get the right potting mix
Use charcoal, tree bark and coconut husks, or just buy an orchid potting mix from the garden centre.
Alternatively, you can just hang your orchid on a tree.
Although there is a lot of emphasis on the right potting mix, it’s not nearly enough to provide all the nutrients your plants need.
To sustain healthy growth, the orchids must be properly fertilized. Try using a liquid fertilizer, although you have to dilute it more than other plants.
Tip: Do not apply fertilizer immediately after potting. It should only be applied when the plant is in active growth.
6. Plant with small plastic pots
Orchids are usually happy in a small pot.
You should also go with plastic pots because it is way easier to re-pot. The roots can be easily detached and if they aren’t, you can simply cut the pots.
Clay pots are porous and water evaporates constantly through them leaving behind salts. These salts damage the delicate root of your orchids.
7. Cut dead stems
Once your orchid’s flowers are dead, simply cut out the stems to make for new growth. Also be on the lookout for dead stems so you can’t cut them away too. (look for stems which are brown and hard.
Bonus tip: Put your orchids in the bathroom!
A lot of gardeners have claimed that bathrooms are the best locations for these plants as the steam from showers and baths can keep your plants moist without over-watering it. Try this out and let us know how it works out for you!