Monday, October 17, 2011

The easy secrets to growing orchids

It's a common myth that growing orchids is difficult. It's a myth that they need lots of attention so that they bloom just right. It's all myth. The fact is that growing orchids that are more than just beautiful is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Really!

So what is the secret to amazing orchids? Getting the right balance of water, light and temperature.

Orchids are one of the most gratifying plants to care for. They can reward you with beautiful, exotic and fragrant flowers that are absolutely breathtaking. Growing orchids in either your house or the garden let's your enjoy some of the most stunning flowers on the planet.

Orchids are warm plants, having come from the more tropical regions. As long as we remember to get the balance right they will manage to live almost forever.

Water
Most orchids are air plants, so this means you will see their roots. It's crucial you don't over water your growing orchids. Their root systems and the pseudbulbs are very resourceful in storing water. So letting the soil dry out before watering is a good thing.

Growing orchids should be watered only when the potting material is dry, making sure that the water drains out easily.

In general, growing orchids should be watered twice a week. During the spring flowering season however, lessen their water intake to once a week or once every two weeks. It is important in helping them bloom continuously.

If you feel the need to take special care of your growing orchids, knowing how the different species like to be watered would be useful. For example:

Dendrobium, Cattleya and Oncidium orchids like to dry out completely before watering. An easy way to water the plant is to place it in the kitchen sink and let the water flow through for about 20 seconds. Let the water drain from the growing orchids before putting them back.

Phalaenopsis orchids like to be close to dry. A simple way to determine if these growing orchids need watering is to place your finger in the mix by a few centimetres. It should be spongy and moist.

Growing orchids like Paphiopedilum and Epidendrum should be watered roughly twice a week so that the soil is always slightly moist.

Light
It's important not to put your growing orchids in direct sunlight. They have sensitive skin and will definitely burn. Placing them by a well lit window area that receives a few hours of sun or bright light a day is the perfect spot for your growing orchids.

A window also provides ventilation. Growing orchids like to be fully ventilated. When they receive a continuous stream of gentle air movement, your orchid will bloom more often.

All orchids adore light. They would never survive in a poorly lit environment. But to ensure that they don't suffer from over-exposure to direct sunlight. Drape a sheer curtain over the window to help avoid this.

A growing orchid's leaves will tell you everything you need to know. Extremely green and vigorous leaves mean the plant isn't getting enough light. If you notice this, slowly introduce the plant to more and more sunlight over time. A healthy and ready to flower orchid has leaves lighter in colour with a slight yellow tinge.

Temperature
Keeping the temperature and humidity right is a central part of life for growing orchids. Most growing orchids do extremely well at room temperature.

Humidity is a key factor in keeping growing orchids healthy. Growing orchids love high humidity. The best way to provide them with a humid environment is to place them in a clay pot on a humidity tray. Just a flat tray filled with pebbles and 1/2 water is perfect for keeping them warm and happy. Be sure not to let the roots sit in the water because they will rot.

It's a good idea to keep a small hand mister close by. Spraying their leaves every now and then in summer will keep the cool.

Potting
The less you re-pot growing orchids the better. It may be necessary every so often, so try to re-pot them after their resting period and they've started growing again.

When removing them from a pot (which can be difficult, you may even have to break the pot to get it free) take a knife or other such tool and lever it between the bulbs, separating them into at least two sections. You should remove most of the dead and leafless bulbs, but leave a few next to the new shoots.

Check the roots for damaged, rotten or tangled sections and remove these.

Good drainage is important for growing orchids, so make sure the new pot has plenty of drainage holes. If the growing orchids roots are healthy and firm, place it in a pot just one size larger.

Add some potting mix to the base, you can get special orchid potting mix which is specifically designed to make them comfortable. Sit the orchid in the pot so it's roughly the same depth as it was in the previous pot - the new shoots should be level with the pot rim - and fill in with more mix.

If the growing orchids are not secure, the new roots won't grow properly.

Don't fret if your orchids won't flower for a year or two after dividing them, they're just getting re-settled.

Growing orchids in your home is one of the most beautiful and interesting ways to add colour and charm to your home. Their astounding colours and shapes are sure to brighten up your home and garden and add a wonderful tropical feel.

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