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How to Grow Orchids

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With more than 30,000 different species and at least 200,000 hybrids, orchids make up the largest family of flowering plants on earth. Orchids have an incredible ability to adapt to its environment, resulting in varieties that thrive everywhere between the equatorial tropics and arctic tundra.

 

There are so many varieties of orchids. How do I pick the best one for me?

Start out growing the easier orchid varieties such as Cattleya, Phalenopsis, and Paphiopedilum. Make sure you can provide these varieties with proper growing conditions. Cattleya orchids thrive in wet and dry phases, where as Paphiopedilum requires continuous moisture. Temperature, lighting, humidity, and bark all play a role in the success of your orchids.

How do I care for my orchid?

As there are more than 30,000 different species of orchids, there is no “one size fits all” for care instructions. However, you can gain insight into how to care for your orchid based on its appearance. 

If there are few leaves or the leaves are leathery, the plant will most likely require a high-light environment. Alternatively, if the leaves are limp and soft, these plants are likely light-sensitive and do not want direct light. Most paphipedilum and some phalaenopsis are species that are light-sensitive

Pseudobulbs help determine the amount of water the orchid needs. If there are not any pseduobulbs, this generally indicates that the orchid requires more moisture. This can be attained through more frequent watering or using a growing medium that will retain moisture (sphagnum moss, for example).  Large pseudobulbs are an indication that the plant prefers drier conditions. Grow these orchids on coarse pieces of bark or lava rock and water sparingly.

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What type of lighting do orchids prefer?

Typically, orchids require 12 to 14 hours of light each day, year-round. Additional lighting may be necessary in the winter months, as the duration and intensity of natural light does not vary in tropical environments as it does in temperate climates.

Both south and east facing windows are ideal for natural light in your home. North windows do not get a sufficient amount of light and west-facing windows can become too hot. If you do not have optimal lighting from windows, try using grow lights! Position your orchids no more than 6-8 inches away from a set of 4ft fluorescent bulbs. 

What is the best growing media for my orchid?

It is important that the growing medium you use allows water to drain quickly, provides adequate air circulation, and gives the roots something secure to grip on to. Various types of mediums include peat moss, fir bark, rock wool, sphagnum moss, dried fern roots, perlite, stones, cork nuggets, lava rock, coconut fiber, or even a combination of these materials. Fir bark nuggets tent to be the most popular growing medium among this list.

What size pot should I plant my orchid in?

Orchids tend to prefer relatively small pots. When potting, ensure that there is proper drainage and plant your orchid so that the crown is just below the top of the planter.

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Lechuza Planters are all-in-one planters that include a specially formulated granular material that's made from nutrient-enriched pumice, zeolites and lava. The clean, attractive material wicks water up from the built-in reservoir, aerates the roots and provides your plant with nutrition. A layer of Lechuza PON spread over the the reservoir wicks water to the potting mix around your plant’s roots. The water reservoir releases moisture as your plants need it and lets you water less often. A built-in water-level indicator tells you when it’s time to add more water.

How often should I water my orchid?

Orchids should be watered once a week. Give time between your watering to allow your growing medium to dry out; orchids need proper air circulation to prevent them from suffocating and dying.  

Do my orchids need fertilizer?

Orchids require additional fertilizer to maintain healthy growth. Use a liquid fertilizer, but remember to dilute it more than you would for other house plants.

Only apply fertilizer during active growth. Do not fertilize them after re-potting or midwinter. 

How frequently will my orchids bloom?

Most orchids will bloom once per year, though some may bloom more frequently if they are happy and healthy. There are a variety of orchids you can choose from so they will bloom at a certain time.

How long will a bloom last?

Typically, the flower will bloom for six to ten weeks.

I re-pot my orchid and now it won’t bloom

When orchids are disturbed through re-potting, it usually takes at least one year before the orchid will bloom again. As it usually takes several months for an orchid to resume active growth after being re-potted, water sparingly during this period.