By justatypn at 2007-08-29 23:50
There are up to 35,000 species available, they actually comprise the largest family of flowering plants on earth. In fact, one seventh of all plants are orchids. Over the past few years some have been grown commercially on a large scale for what we call at the Depot “potted plant” market. They are forced grown to a saleable blooming size and in most cases the easiest to grow for the novice grower. When buying orchids; buy for your growing conditions and area.
One advantage of growing indoors is that you get to see your orchid’s everyday as well as being able to see their environmental condition. Unfortunately, as the old proverb goes, "orchids tell you what they want, but by the time you listen to what they are trying to tell you, they are dead". Hopefully with this verbiage indoor growing will help prevent this old proverb from becoming a reality.
In order to successfully cultivate them, you must meet their requirements for light, temperature and humidity. But if you provide the proper environment, you'll be rewarded with fabulous blooms.
It is important to know the different levels of lighting for proper growing. Orchid lighting is calculated in foot candles. A unit of measure of the intensity of light falling on a surface, equal to one lumen per square foot and originally defined with reference to a standardized candle burning at one foot from a given surface. Wow, that’s a mouthful.
Low to medium would be 500 to 2000 foot candles (Phalaenopsis, Ludisia, and Paphiopedilum. Medium to high (2000 to 4000 foot candles (Cattleya, Oncidium, Dendrobium and Vanda’s).
There are a few in my collection that I keep moving around until I find the appropriate lighting. I grow my orchids in a sunroom (breakfast nook) with 3 bay windows and a sliding glass door going out to the balcony. There is east, north and west exposure. Being in Florida the summer west exposure is always a challenge being on the 2nd floor and at mid tree level leaving no option than to keep my blinds fully opened with a sheer drape.
If the plant is not getting enough light the plant will be dark green, the pseudobulbs might become soft and produce undersized blooms. Ninety percent of the time if an orchid is not blooming the problem is not enough light. Home Depot Store sells florescent lighting with or without frames; limited space will get you a clip on light with metal shades and a multiple selection of light bulbs. The type of light bulbs you use can vary also. Incandescent, fluorescent, HID, and a wealth of other lights are available. I was fortunate enough to have a friend give me her light set up for indoor growing and my orchids love it.
WATERING AND HUMIDITY
Watering is the hardest area for indoor growers, especially beginners like me to master. More orchids are killed by over watering than under watering. If over watering is a habit in which you have a hard time getting uses to it’s best to use clay pots, clay will breath and water will dissipate easier than plastic pots. I usually water every 2-3 days during the summer months and in the winter I usually water every 7-10 days. As for those mounted orchids, I usually wet them down 2-3 times a week and mist daily; usually do not go far from that regimen for the winter months.
I use bamboo skewers as watering sensors to determine if my orchids need water. I cut the skewers in half placing them toward the middle of the pot. When I think it’s time to water, I pull out the skewer and hold it to my cheek. If it’s on the dry side I water and if it’s damp from the previous watering I wait a day or two.
For most indoor orchids an optimum humidly level of 50-70%. My humidity stays around the range of 50-55%. You can increase the humidity around your plants by grouping them together or using pebbles in a saucer of water, it’s not good to allow them to sit in water. You can also buy or design your own humidity trays. But I have to admit that when I do not add the water to the pebble filled saucers there is no huge humidity variance to make up the difference, but does keep it at a desirable percentage. I group plants to take advantage of their collective transpiration (exhaled moisture) as well as placing them together in the above mentioned saucers. With the help of a hygrometer it takes the guess work out of the humidity levels.
When misting my plants either it be manually or with a humidifier the plants closest to the misting system usually gets a residue and from time to time I clean off the leaves with lemon juice or milk and water. Most orchids not only breathe from the roots but also from there leaves.
Orchids usually fall into 3 temperature range categories. Cool or cold growing (50-55F at night, 60-70F day) these are very hard to grow unless you keep your air conditioner in the 60’s through the summer. Not my choice for growing here in Florida.
Intermediate growers (55-65F at night, 70-80F day) these can go either way, some can be grown inside.
Warm growers (65-70F at night, 80-90F day) this is our group! Many of these do very well indoors. Some can take temps into the 100’s for short periods of time. In the home it’s much easier to control temperatures than outside, thanks to central air.
Most orchids need a drop in temperature at night of 10- 15 degrees to induce flowering, this can be difficult indoors, I tend to let my sunroom get into the 80 degree range during the day, then it’s generally not too hard to get it down to 70 at night (except in the middle of August). In general, if you’re comfortable your orchids will be comfortable.
This helps the orchids in many ways by cooling the leaves, less chances of bacteria and fungi forming on wet leaves. Air circulation is generally harder to control outdoors than indoors. I use a ceiling fan as well as an oscillating fan in my sunroom and runs 24/7. I also open the windows to get fresh air in when outside weather temps permit.
I fertilize with water-soluble Jack’s Classic 10-30-20 and 2 drops of Superthrive with every watering. I usually mist with the same formula and every 2-3 weeks give them fresh water to flush out any leftover fertilizer, salts, and minerals that may have built up in the pot.
ORCHIDS ARE EASY!
There is no reason why one can’t grow orchids for many years, if you provide them with adequate light, moisture, air circulation, fertilizer which in return will rewarded you with beautiful, long-lasting flowers.
KEEPING THINGS IN BALANCE when it comes to my orchid growing conditions; here are some tips I keep in mind:
If the air temperature is cool, the orchids need less water and light.
If the humidity is high, the orchids need more air circulation.
If the light is very bright and /or the temperature is high, the humidity needs to be high.
When orchids are not actively growing, reduce or stop fertilizing.
If the temperatures are high, the light and humidity need to also be high and the orchids will require more-frequent watering.
|What is your favorite orchid alliance? (According to how OB has them divided)
|Catasetum and Stanhopea Alliance|
|Cypripedium Alliance - Paphiopedilum|
|Cypripedium Alliance - others|
|Vanda Alliance - Neofinetia|
|Vanda Alliance - Angraecum/Aerangis|
|Vanda Alliance - others|
|Miscellaneous & Other Genera|
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