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Old 08-06-2008, 01:18 AM
jstam jstam is offline
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Entering the hobby of growing orchids
Default Entering the hobby of growing orchids


I am interested in entering the hobby of growing orchids.

Does anyone have recommendations for some orchids that would be suitable for a beginner, or that I should avoid because they are more difficult to grow? I plan to grow my orchids by a window or a short distance from a window. On a related note, do you think that I should try to purchase plants of a particular size as a beginner (e.g. would it make sense to buy only blooming sized plants)?

Before I actually buy my first plant, I'd like to understand the basis of their care. I've ordered "Taylor's Guide to Orchids: More than 300 Orchids, Photographed and Described, for Beginning to Expert Gardeners" because of its positive reviews that I read on the Internet. Are there other resources that you would recommend?

I live in Saskatoon, SK, in Canada. Are there any reputable dealers in this city? I would also be open to the idea of purchasing my first orchid(s) via mail order.

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Old 08-06-2008, 01:37 AM
dgenovese1 dgenovese1 is offline
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Hi Jstam,
Welcome to the world of growing orchids...it can be a very rewarding hobby! While I do not know about growing orchids in your part of the world, and about vendors in your immediate area, I do understand that a phalaenopsis type orchid is a good choice for a beginner. You can buy them as small or medium sized blooming plants. Their blooms are generally long lasting, and they do well with indoor environments.
I have purchased many plants via mail order, so if you can't find a local seller, I'm sure that you can find one via the internet without too many difficulties. Check around on the OB site for recommendations.
Here is a link to the AOS website where you can find a beginners culture sheet for Phalaenopsis orchids: American Orchid Society. When you get there, click on "Orchid Information" on the right hand side, then select "Culture Sheets" on the left hand side, and lastly click "Phalaenopsis".
I hope this helps.
Good luck!
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Old 08-06-2008, 05:54 PM
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Dorothy Dorothy is offline
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Location: Long Island, NY
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Before I post past threads of orchids for beginners -
What are your growing conditions -
Approximate temperature and humidity range year around (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter)
Lighting - for window - what exposure - north(mostly shady), south(mostly sunny), west(afternoon sun), east(morning sun)
Sunlight shining through or curtained?
Do you tend to be a heavy handed waterer and will be doting to your orchids all the time or would you only have time to water once a week (or prefer orchids that can take drying out)?
What size orchid plant and flowers do you desire? Large, medium or small plants, Large, medium, small sized flowers.
Are you looking for orchids with one or a few single flowers or multiples of flowers?

For a beginner, I would advise a potted orchid as opposed to mounted at first .. once you become familiar and know your care schedule .. that may change

Your growing conditions determine the type of orchid you will eventually chose ...

(To other members reading this, if I have forgotten any conditions, please add them)

"Nothing beats the orchid -- as an offering of love"
- paraphrasing Marlowe Hood from 'Orchid Fossil Quells Evolutionary Quarrel'

Toto, I Have A Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore! ...

Last edited by Dorothy; 08-06-2008 at 06:01 PM..
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:14 PM
hollylee hollylee is offline

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Oy, Dorothy! It sounds so scary!

My sad sack of a phal is hanging on by a thread, i've killed a few, unintentionally of course.

Practice makes perfect! I think a lot of people have a few casualties in the beginning.
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:35 PM
jkofferdahl jkofferdahl is offline
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As usual, Dorothy gives a great answer. Her comments on the growing conditions you can provide are pretty important! And yes, it sounds scary, and yes, beginners often lose some plants. Heck, experts lose plants - I have a friend who runs the greenhouse at a large University in North Carolina and he loses plants. Taking the time to read a good orchid book - or four or five - is an excellent idea, too.

If I might, I'd like to add a couple of things to Dorothy's excellent suggestions. First, make sure that the starter plants you buy are of established, blooming size. You might even want to buy them in bloom so that you'll know what you're getting! Seedlings are wonderful, and a lot less expensive, but are also more difficult to care for and keep alive, plus if you do keep them alive the rewards - flowers - are at least a year or two down the road. As a beginner you'll have a lot more fun with flowers than vegetation alone.

Second, if possible find a local orchid nursery and buy from them. That allows two things. You can see the plant you are buying, as opposed to having someone a thousand miles away pick it for you; and, that person who is there selling them to you can also be a good source of advice. I'm personally shy of places like Home Depot, Lowe's, Wal-Mart, etc., where the orchids generally come from orchid mills (think of the pets that come from puppy mills), and then sit, for who knows how long, without proper care or attention. If you are going to use a mail order source, go with one that has an good, well-established reputation - some of the online/mail order businesses even have "starter packages" of a few easy-care plants you can try. If I remember correctly, Carter & Holmes has such a package.

I know that THIS comment will seem harsh, but please, please don't get upset if your first orchid dies. In fact, you may lose a few before you get the hang of growing them, depending on your previous experience with plants. Also, use this board as a resource, and if anything looks doubtful on a plant you buy, post questions and comments (and pictures, too, as they are very helpful) about it here at the first sign of trouble so that people with experience with whatever genus of plant is involved can help you. You'll find a LOT of friendly and helpful people here (Dorothy, for example, is an orchid answer goddess) who will do everything possible to make your new hobby as fun and successful as possible.

Good luck, and have a lot of fun!
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:38 PM
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Lagoon Lagoon is offline
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Hello & Welcome to the jungle Jstam!
I think you picked a wonderful hobby. Orchids are alot of fun to grow, not as difficult as many people have made them out to be. Read all you can, look at your conditions and what you would be willing to do to grow these beauties, some need more then others, some grow larger then others - how much space do you have to grow in.
Forums are a great place to get information

I have stands set up with T-8 lighting, it's easy - too easy
Have a looky see at a couple of online vendors ...

Cloud's Orchids

Paramount Orchids:Main

'A day without laughter is a day wasted'
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:44 PM
kiki-do kiki-do is offline
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Hi Jstam! Welcome to OB!
I think a Phalaeopsis is an excellent starter orchid. As previously mentioned, they make great windowsill growers (indirect light, never bright light) and blooms last a long time.
If you have ample light, I suggest a dendrobium. They need stronger light than a Phal, but their blooms generally last a while also.
If you check here on the Forum site, you will find lots of information on the cultures of most common varieties of orchids. That will help you determine what would work best in your area. I think you have the same type weather as I do, and I still grow many varieties in my kitchen windows, livingroom, sunporch, etc. What I lack in conditions, I make up with extra TLC.
One of my favorite books is Orchid Growing for Wimps. I hate the name, but it has step by step growing techniques plus easy charts to help you know watering/feeding/sunlight/temperature ranges, etc. It has pictures showing step by step how to repot, water, look for problems, etc.
Also a good first book is the American Orchid Society book called Your First Orchid. Both are resonably prices and you can find them used online.
We also have a great vendor feedback section here on OB to help you find a good vendor for the Canadian area.
We have lots here from Canada who can also recommend places to purchase.
and ask away...we are happy to help in any way.
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:50 PM
Ed b Ed b is offline
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Welcome on board.The only other book I would add to those already listed would be Orthos complete guide to orchids.As for the plants and suppliers I think they have been covered.
Ed b
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Old 08-07-2008, 12:08 AM
jstam jstam is offline
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Entering the hobby of growing orchids

Wow -- What a set of helpful replies! I imagine that only reflects the collective knowledge and friendliness of this messageboard

To answer some of the questions about my future orchids' growing conditions:

They will be kept indoor year round.

I have two windows close to which which I could place my orchids -- one faces west, and the other south. My ideal location faces westward. I should note, however, that there are large trees around my apartment, the leaves of which do block a fair amount of direct sunlight. My shades usually cover the window, but I could certainly keep them open during the daytime for the benefit of my orchid. I would thus say that I have a mid to low amount of light available to me.

I would not mind daily watering, but would also welcome a hardier plant.

I like large sized flowers. Large or medium sized plants sound great. I envisage having one as a centrepiece of my living room coffee table (close to the west facing window) eventually. Similarly, I like the idea of having one or few single flowers.

I've taken a look at some Phalaenopsis photos, and I really like the way they look! I have also read a few guides to this genus, and think that I could certainly manage their care. My main concern is the lighting condition. My desired location is about 5 ft from the west facing window.

Any thoughts or further suggestions?

Last edited by jstam; 08-07-2008 at 12:11 AM..
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Old 08-07-2008, 08:11 AM
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Dorothy Dorothy is offline
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Phalaenopsis hybrids is the way to go with your shaded lighting (You might want to try Phal species sometime down the road )

I didn't mean to scare anyone with my questions .. The reason being that that it takes a good year to determine one growing conditions .. If I had evaluated my conditions in the beginning .. it would have prevented me from buying orchids that have not survived in my environment .. despite the fact, I am glad I had the opportunity in having some of the orchids that haven't survived as they have been a great learning lesson to me
I say start with easy growers and learn as you go ..

We also have a book review section on the OB and a number of past threads on books -

You can find threads from our archives by going to the search option in the taskbar of any page - click on it and type in book and past threads will be listed

Edb - The Ortho book you mentioned is in the Book Review section

"Nothing beats the orchid -- as an offering of love"
- paraphrasing Marlowe Hood from 'Orchid Fossil Quells Evolutionary Quarrel'

Toto, I Have A Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore! ...

Last edited by Dorothy; 08-07-2008 at 08:19 AM..
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