“ Orchids (Orchidaceae family) are the largest and most diverse of the flowering plant (Angiospermae) families, with over 800 described genera and 25,000 species. Some sources give 30,000 species, but the exact number is unknown since classification differs greatly in the academic world. There are another 100,000+ hybrids and cultivars produced by horticulturists, created since the introduction of tropical species in the 19th century. The Kew World Checklist of Orchids includes about 24,000 accepted species. About 800 new species are added each year. Orchids, through their interactions with pollinators and their symbiosis with orchid mycorrhizal fungi, are considered by some, along with the grasses, to be examples of the most advanced (derived) floral evolution known. „
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I always thought orchids were one of the most difficult plants to look after, so when I was bought 2 after moving into my house just over a year ago I was sure that I would soon kill them off.
Orchids come in many styles and colours. They are basically 2 or 3 long quite thick stems almost like sticks. They have large green rubbery leaves which appear to have a hint of red in them when new leaves grow. One the end of the main stems are several much thinner stems branching off. It is on the end of these thinner stems that the buds and flowers grow. On my 2 orchids the flowers are reasonably large with about 4 large petals per flower head, they look almost papery.
The 2 orchids I was bought came in largish plastic pots filled with bark rather than soil. I am not sure of the reason for this I assume they grow best in bark, however do know that some orchids can be grown in soil. The roots of the orchid grow down into the soil, but also on top of the bark so that they are exposed. Personally I find that being grown in bark does make them difficult to water as unlike plants that are in soil the water does not soak into the bark but seems to just run straight out of the holes in the bottom of the pot. However the orchids seem to be happy like this and bark is obviously suitable to them to be grown in.
Now as I have said watering is a little hit and miss. After reading the instructions on little plastic card that came with the orchids I discovered that orchids (or the type I have) do not need watering that often. Generally I water mine about once a week some times a little less often. I did find it hard to judge how often they would need watering but I was advised to get a small piece of wooden cane, when you think the orchid needs watering push the cane into the bark the orchid is growing in and leave for 10 minutes, after that remove the cane and if it appears that water has soaked into the cane then it does not need watering however if the cane comes out of the bark totally dry then the orchid could do with a water. Now I cannot comment on exactly how much water to give an orchid mainly due to the water running straight out of the pot, personally I just hold the pot under the tap for a couple of minutes and give the bark a good soak, usually this is plenty of water for the week.
I have found that my orchids flower for several months, however one problem with them is that after the flowers have ended orchids are pretty boring, all you are left with is a stick and a few leaves in a pot. Now I should have mentioned that orchids like the light but not direct sunlight. When my orchids finished flowering last year I did move them out of my living room and into the bedroom, for some reason I put them on the window sill(direct sunlight) but they have done better here than they ever did away from direct sunlight in my lounge, so maybe they do like a bit of sunlight every now and again.
One other tip that the give you in the orchid instructions is that when they have stopped flowering cut the stems right down. Now I did this with one of my orchids and forgot with the other. This year the orchid that I did not cut is now sat in my lounge covered in bright pink flowers. The one I did cut down and follow the instructions with is still sat on my bedroom window sill. It has finally grown new stems and a new leaf however it has no flowers at all, I think I will have to wait until next year for those. Personally I would recommend not following the instructions that come with orchids, do not cut them down and speaking from experience it does not work, my orchid I did not cut down has done so much better than the other one I did cut down.
Orchids are much stronger that I thought and I have not managed to kill either of them off. I would certainly recommend these plants if you struggle to keep plants as the seem to just do their own thing and are happy with a bit of water every now and then, although they look quite a fragile plant they are very hardly. They are long lasting and provide you with beautiful flowers which last for months.
Orchid plants are members of the largest family of plants - Orchidaceae and are simply known as Orchids. It is estimated that there are about 25,000 species of orchids growing in the wild.
Orchids are probably the most diverse group of plants that thrive in almost all kinds of climates except probably the arctic ! Basically they are parasites that feed on Large tree trunks , preferring shade and very little light. The many varieties that one gets to see in most plant nurseries and garden centers tend to be hybrid varieties that have the characteristics of Orchids and other similar species too..The flowers from the original wild varieties are hardy and smaller in size.
One is reminded of the Orient and the rain forest when one thinks of Orchid flowers and plants. The flowers are fabulous looking and eye catching , coming in some spectacular colors and mixed shades. Orchid flowers can be found in varied colors ranging from Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Purple, Brown, Blue and even a rare type of Bluish Black and Black. I feel that Orchids are the most interesting flower formations ever.
Growing Orchids in your home
Growing Orchids at home is fairly easy and does not require much effort. Orchids have very few requirements except that they need to be given human - comfort temperature, humidity and a certain amount of light. Too much light can harm the plant and so does too little !
They do particularly well in closed balconies that receive partial sunlight and warmth. It is better to group them together with other plants , this takes care of their humidity requirements. But the most important thing to bear in mind is never to over water them and let water stand at the base of the plant. It is best to let the top soil dry out before watering.
Although Orchid plants need to be kept moist but there should be no water logging, otherwise the stem tends to rot and the growth gets stunted. Also, the leaves tend to wrinkle and shrink when the water requirement is not met with. Fertilizer can be added only when the blooms appear and after the flowering season is over. It is best to use the ready mix orchid soil that is available in most plant nurseries.
It is essential to repot the orchid plant when not in bloom taking care to include as much of the old potting soil as possible and placing the plants in slightly larger pots.
I have two wild varieties that I picked up from tree trunks growing in a mountainous area . One of them has tiny yellowish orange blooms which come on long spikes and in clusters. And best of all the flowers lasted and lasted - almost a month and a half !! It was the most exciting day for us when the first bloom appeared nearly a year after I got it home and planted it in a teracota pot . The other plant is yet to flower and I am not sure if it is the same variety or if it is different .The leaves look slightly different so, I am keeping my fingers crossed hoping that it is a different variety altogether ...I use the husk of coconut ( the outer cover that has been peeled) to cover the top soil of the pots so that the plant remains cool. Now the plant has started growing into the coconut husk - after all they are parasites LOL...
Other than the balcony , I would suggest a windowsill as the ideal place to grow orchids. The light requirement is met with and it gets at least a little sunshine during the day. After planting the Orchid plant takes a year or two to start flowering, but once it begins flowering it starts growing very fast and multiplying. It can be then separated and repotted in different containers .
Orchid is one of the most fascinating, exotic and beautiful variety of flowers that is considered difficult to grow. But with the right climatic conditions they can thrive very well in your home and flower regularly...
When one of my friends came to stay with me a couple of years ago she bought me a potted orchid as a present, much the same pinky colour as in the picture.
It was lovely to look at, but I was a bit concerned - no matter how hard I try, I seem to kill off every plant I look at - they just wither and die! I'm not sure why as my parents can grow pretty much anything without any effort...
You name it, I've done it: windswept, browning, leaves curling up, leaves going wrinkly, leaves falling off, brown skeletons, accidental freezing to death - I've done it. I could make a fortune as a foliage assassin.
So I wasn't convinced this orchid would last very long, being somewhat more high maintenance than your average spider plant or window box plant.
However....I'm amazed that two years on, it's grown enough to want a new pot and is still flowering at regular intervals (if anything, even a little more than the every 6 months or so suggested on the little information tag!).
Because of this I think my orchid would probably survive a nuclear war along with the cockroaches (and perhaps Wall-E).
It simply requires to be kept out of direct sunlight with damp soil (I usually water it about 3 times a week or so), and I give it a little liquid plant food every six months or so.
The only downside is that when it's not flowering, it looks stick like - other than the dark, rubber-y like leaves - and people always say it's dead (it's not! Don't be so horrible about my baby!!). As it's grown it's produced many more flowers, and now looks beautiful in my living room.
At the moment my friend is looking after it for me because I didn't want to confuse it by taking it to my shared house, and she thought she would kill it as well - but she assures me it's still going strong, and was amazed she hadn't killed it either, despite lack of winter sunlight in my somewhat dark house.
If you're bad with plants like me, I'd definitely try an orchid. You can even buy them at supermarkets at the right time of year, though the bigger ones will cost a lot more when flowering.
I have always liked orchid flowers. but have never had much success with house plants so never really considered growing them. I tend to neglect plants so eventually they dry out and die!
However in a moment of weakness in a garden centre, I spotted a rather sad looking phalaenopsis (not that I knew that was what it was at the time!) With beautiful pale pink petals and a deep pink centre. It was reduced as it had been rather bashed and didn't look very healthy! Always a sucker for a charity case, I bought it and brought it home. All the instructions on the pot were in german, so a little while on google was required for some simple care instructions!
This was over 12months ago and the orchid has been in flower ever since - certainly a lot cheaper than a bunch of flowers! I have acquired another 6 orchids since then, and am rapidly running out of window sill room! I have also bought a couple of books and even been to an "orchid event" at my local garden centre! Be warned - this is a low input but pretty addicitve hobby!
Phalaenopsis, a bit of back ground
Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids are the most popular type of orchid grown in this country. Apparently, they are also the most popular selling house plant at the moment. They are native throughout southeast Asia from the Himalayan mountains to northern Australia. All phalaenopsis are epiphytic plants; meaning they live in crannies in rock of tree bark. In the wild they are found below the canopies of moist, humid forests. They tend to be shaded from direct sunlight and subjected to infrequent, fierce rainfall, after which they dry out.
Phalaenopsis are known as monopodial, meaning they have only one stem at ground level. They produce alternate left and right sided thick, dark green leaves on top of one another. Unlike other orchid species they have no pseudobulbs. The stem which produces flowers appears from the (hidden) stem, between the leaves. Flowers are pink, purple, white, yellow or a combination of these colours, and will sometimes persist for up to 6 months! Flower stems will arch over under the weight of the flowers, and some can reach nearly 2 foot high! Large plants can produce multiple flower spikes.
Growing hints and tips
DO NOT OVER WATER! That is the most important piece of advice available! Trying to imitate the natural conditions for a phalaenopsis gives them the best chance of growing. This means a bright spot, without too much direct sunlight (leaves can scorch in direct sun). Temeperatures of around 20 C are ideal, temperature should not go below 15C. Once weekly watering is more than adequate except in the hottest of summers. If the plant is still damp (or you can see moisture in th pot still) it does not need watering. I water mine with rain water which I bring in and allow to warm to room temp. If you want to use tap water, it should be fine but again, best at room temp. Also, if you live in a high chlorine/ hard water area (I do) the water needs to settle for 24 hrs so the "hardness" drops out. This means that they can be kept inside realtively easily, do not need too much tlc and can be forgotten about for an entire holiday! Orchids should be potted in compost specific for their type (not just "orchid mix", they live in all environments so they do not all need the same thing!).
Phalaenopsis like a medium grade bark mixture generally (drains well, plenty of space for air). This will not sustain many minerals, so feeding every other feed is advisable. Whilst orchids are flowering, or to encourage flowering, a high pottasium feed is ideal (e.g. half strength tomato feed).
How to keep them flowering!
An orchid will often have several flowers (nearest to the main stem) and several buds (furthest from the main stem) on each flowering spike when it is bought. These flowers should persist for about 3-4 months. When they start to drop, the time has come to trim the flower spike. Cut back to just above the second node from the top WHILE THE LAST 2 FLOWERS ARE STILL ON THE PLANT! It does seem a shame to loose the flowers, but they will have less than a week still to flower, and you are maximising the chance of more flowers appearing. A side shoot should then be produced. This can be repeated several times, each time the plant will produce fewer flowers, but they will be of the original high quality.
In summary, these plants are addicitve, if you can keep one alive you will soon want a different coloured one as well! In my case it is the relative ease of care that appeals, although they are seen as difficult to grow, they really aren't at all. They are also a popular mother's day/easter/birthday/xmas gift, so a few have come my way once people heard I could grow them, both as presents and neglected ones that relatives were given last year! My windowsill next to the computer looks like a nursery for neglected orchids at the moment. They can be expensive to buy, but even if you can never make them flower again, the cost involved in buying them is less than similarly spectacular bunches of flowers would be for 3-4 months!
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I always thought Orchids were tricky plants to grow so I was rather surprised when one day, walking round a craft show, I stopped to admire some beautiful orchids and I chatted to the chap on the stall. He told me that actually they were quite easy plants just so long as you follow some very simple rules.
Needless to say, ever the sucker for a good sales pitch, I left the fair clutching an Orchid plant and drove the 200+ miles home to East Anglia determined to try at least to keep the plant alive for a while. To be perfectly honest I wasn't too concerned if I failed because I thought that at least I would get to enjoy this plant whilst the flower lasted and as you probably know orchid blooms last quite a long time when cut so I figured it would last a little longer whilst still in the pot.
That was over twelve years ago, and that same plant is still going strong today! Not only is it going strong but it got so big I had to 'split' it and I now have two Orchid plants both of which have put up flower spikes this year one has had three spikes for weeks which have been gorgeous and the other has two spikes of buds so I am looking forward to enjoying the blooms again some time soon.
There are various types of Orchid available and the one I purchased is a Cymbidium which has strap like leaves and flower spikes which carry numerous good size blooms and which last for a couple of months. I have to confess I don't know anything about the other types or their hardiness so I will concentrate this review on just this one type.
Cymbidium (pronounced sim-bid-ee-um) is actually one of the best known and most popular of all orchids. The genus consists of about 50 species and, from these, thousands of hybrids have been developed.
They can be found growing naturally in China, and Japan through the Himalayas, South East Asia to Australia. Cymbidium is the oldest cultivated orchid, and there is evidence that they were grown in China 2500 years ago. It is one of the easiest orchids and, provided that certain rules are stuck to, it will flower year after year.
+ Temperature and Humidity +
According to gardening references conservatories or cool greenhouses suit these plants where night temperatures above 46°F can be maintained. In my house I have just placed them in good light in either the dining room or conservatory and they have flourished and in the Summer I place them outdoors in their pots and they have seemd to thrive on this.
It is recommended that during Autumn, Winter and Spring, night temperatures should not exceed 55°F which I have found relatively easy to achieve in this country but again I have given mine no special treatment or protection I have just left them in the room.
+ Air movement +
It is suggested that good air movement is essential for Cymbidium growth - all I can think is I must have good air movement in my house because again I have given them no special treatment but suspect their Summers in the garden have helped in this respect.
+ Light +
It is recommended that they get good light but are given a bit of shade against really strong sunlight in the heat of Summer. When outdoors mine have been in strong sunlight and coped remarkably well.
+ Watering +
The chap I bought my Orchid from told me NEVER to water them with tap water, to always use rainwater and that is exactly what I have done. You should never allow the plants to dry out and always keep the compost moist. Normally, watering once each week is sufficient but, during the hot summer months, it may be necessary to water twice weekly. To be honest the compost on mine has dried out a few times and they have come to no harm but I don't recommend that amount of neglect!
+ Fertilising +
I have a little tub of Orchid fertiliser and I give my plants a regular feed with this in accordance with the instructions on the side of the tub. The tub lasts for ages so they are actually quite 'cheap to keep'.
+ Potting and Dividing +
It is said that the best time to repot and divide Cymbidiums is between the end of February and until the end of June. I waited until mine had finished flowering and then wrestled with the root ball to cut it in half. The plants are said to grow better if they are 'contained' so to do this only repot into plant pots where there is just enough room for the following year's growth. Always use a proper Orchid Compost of peat and bark and never an ordinary compost.
So there you have it. Orchids are truly much easier that I ever thought and mine are an absolute delight when they are in bloom. I never cease to be amazed at their sheer beauty and I am really glad I bought my plant all those years ago. I have kept them and they have flourished with little more than a few words of advice from the vendor which I will reiterate below:
Always water with rainwater and NEVER tap water
Always pot in Orchid Compost and not ordinary compost
Feed with Orchid Fertiliser
Pop them outdoors in the Summer
Sit back and enjoy the display
This advice relates to Cymbidium Orchids - I can't comment on the others. If you see one in your local garden centre and you are tempted why not give it a go - I did and found them far easier than I ever imagined. To me they are one of the most exquisite flowers around, I have always loved Orchids, and I love them even more now that I grow my own!
I have been growing orchids for a few years now. It is addictive.
There are many, many different kinds of orchids. They are the largest plant family on Earth. There are over 800 different types (genera). They come in in just about every colour, except blue (although there are some bluey-purpley colours being bred now).
They can divided into roughly 3 different habitats for growing - Cool, Intermediate and Warm - and can be anything from very easy to very difficult to grow. Some orchids can even be grown outside in this country.
One of the most common types of orchid you will see is Phalaenopsis (also known as the moth orchid). These are often for sale in supermarkets and garden centres, and have quite large, colourful flowers. They are quite easy to grow, if you keep them somewhere warm (over 15 degrees C), out of direct sunlight.
I have a couple of tips for growing Phalaenopsis:
1. Keep them in a clear pot. The roots like to have light.
2. Don't keep them moist. Water them occasionally, and give them a good soaking, until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot, and then let them dry out in between.
3. Keep them in an open compost, preferably made of bark chips.
4. When the flower has withered, cut the top of the stem off just above the node where the last flower was attached to the stem. This encourages another flower stalk to form further down the stem. Only cut the stem off completely if it has turned brown and dry.
I have seen more and more types of orchid turning up for sale in garden centres - Homebase always seem to have a large selection, but unfortunately the staff don't know how to care for them so they often look a bit sickly. They can usually be revived though, and I've picked up a few bargains there.
Among the types I've seen in garden centres lately:
Jewel Orchid - has dark leaves with a stripe down the middle. Fine on a windowsill, can be treated like a normal houseplant.
Oncidium - Has bulb like swellings at the bottom of its leaves, and lots of small flowers on each spike. Look after it like a Phalaenopsis, but it will not reflower from an old stem.
Cymbidium - Has bulbs at the bottom of its leaves, but is a much bigger plant than oncidium. Will be happy outside in the summer.
Vanda - Has amazing, big, bright flowers. The roots are not planted in soil, but are left to hang free or placed in a glass vase. Difficult to look after, likes to be kept warm. Needs dipped in water every day.
Did you know that vanilla comes from orchids? They are the seed pods of one of the largest orchids, Vanilla Planifolia. Producing vanilla pods is quite time consuming, as each flower has to be pollinated by hand.
There are also many orchids living in the wild. In this country there are bee orchids and ladies slippers. Perhaps the most amazing wild orchid is the ghost orchid, which is most common in the Everglades in Florida. It looks like a star shaped root, and it has no leaves. If it is happy, it will produce a spectacular white flower that looks like a ghost.
Not all orchids are scented, but the ones that are smell lovely. One type, Oncidium Sharry Baby, smells like chocolate!
Orchids are very difficult to grow from seed. In the wild they are germinated by a fungus. In captivity, they are grown in laboratory conditions from either seeds or tiny pieces of stem, which are put into sterile flasks containing nutrient jelly where they grow for over a year, until they are large enough to survive on their own.
It is because they are so difficult to grow that they used to be so rare. In Victorian times, the only way to get orchids was to collect them from the wild in the far off countries where they grew, and many plants died on the journey back to the UK.
There are several places you can see orchids all year round in the UK - Kew Gardens and RHS Wisley have good collections. There is also a large RHS Orchid Fair each year in London, with sellers from all over the world, as well as numerous local shows.
Hopefully some of you will give orchid growing a go!
I am very much a novice but so far either my three orchids are easy to look after or I have had beginners luck. Two were gifts, a Cymbidium and a Phalaenopsis, the other, an Odontoglossum, was a half price bargain after Mothers Day in B&Q, looking decidedly sad with a dead flower. I shall keep an eye open now after such festive events for similar bargains; as full price orchids tend to be silly prices at £12 plus. I have a good basic book on orchid care and the following may be useful advise for other novices like me. In summary: almost all orchids need humidity all year round; some need a reduced temperature at night; most need maximum light all year round and they need a period of rest each year with minimal watering and cooler conditions. I split my Cymbidium into two last summer and both plants are surprisingly still healthy and one has a new flower shoot. My rescue bargain, the Odontoglossum, is in bud and just breaking into flower and my relatively new acquisition, the Phalaenopsis, is still in flower. What’s more they were all deserted for three weeks last summer whilst I was away and with some preparation they survived. My tips are as follows. Pots and compost. I gather most orchids like their roots to be cramped in their pots but they need light airy compost and only need re-potting when they almost push themselves out of their container. My cymbidium had so distorted it’s plastic pot it would no longer fit in the pottery ornamental container so action was required. A sharp knife split the plant between two pseudobulbs, and then there were two, to be re-potted in orchid compost. I use plastic pots for everything as I find proper pots dry out too quick. Your pots also need to be able to sit loosely inside an ornamental pot with space for an inch of gravel in the bottom. Watering. They also don’t like their feet wet, so make sure no water drains out after watering and leaves the pot sitting in the wet.
The book unhelpfully says the tips of the leaves of orchids may go brown if they are too dry and also if they are too wet, so that was handy info. They need to almost dry out, but NOT completely, before watering them, and I am now quite a good judge of how dry they are by lifting the pot to see how heavy/light they are, you will soon learn to gauge it. I dunk the pots in water, up to their necks for half an hour so all the water they want will be soaked up on their own, and then let them drain thoroughly. They sit on their layer of gravel in their outside pots and I keep this just covered with water. I now use ordinary tap water as rainwater from the water butt in the garden always seems to bring with it a whole host of fruit flies that have a field day in the warmth of the house and will soon overwhelm all your houseplants. I keep a couple of old wine carafes filled with tap water and leave them on the window ledge. With the occasional shake the chlorine in the water will slowly go and also it is always at room temperature. Humidity. The book says the blessed plants need daily spaying, well that isn’t really practical in the house without spraying the windows, carpet and furniture. I did have a phase of religiously taking them into the bath and spraying them, but the novelty soon wears off. My solution is to wipe the leaves with wet kitchen towel every morning; it is quick, easy and probably as effective. Keeping the gravel in the bottom of the pots covered with water definitely works, it goes down so it must be evaporating around the plant and helping to maintain a bit of constant humidity. Light and Temperature. I keep them on the brightest window ledges of the house but last summer kept them back a bit out of the full force of the sun. This winter they are still on the window ledges but with the central heating on I move them, except for the Phalaenopsis, into a cooler room for the night. As for leaving them for tho
se three weeks, well I more or less followed the tip in the book. I cut inch wide strips of thick towel a couple of feet long, turned the plants out of their pots and draped the towel round the plant and compost with enough towel emerging at the top of each pot to hang down a few inches below. The plants were then returned to their pots. Out came the old washing up bowls and buckets filled with gravel and covered with water and put the pots in with the ends of the towels fully immersed in the water. These were left on the floor of the brightest draft free room in the house and there they were left. Amazingly they looked very happy and healthy when we returned and were still just gently damp. I like a challenge with plants and these orchids are proving quite rewarding, I plan to collect a sample of each of the main groups, about a dozen of them, and will keep looking out for sad specimens in shops. As long as the pseudobulbs or leaves are plump then they are probably not past redemption. Have fun and give these curious specimens of the plant world a try. Their flowers can be rather spectacular.
Orchids only for the rich,!!! I dont think so,several are very easy to grow. As with children they need good light protect from too much sun,cool nights are good,keep water'd in summer & stand outside during the summer & feed only during the summer.As children need feeding all year round I suppose this makes the Orchid easier to raise & certainly a lot cheaper... The easy types are Cattleya the Corsage Orchid,, the Sipper Orchid, though to me this is quite ugly its the one we all know & then there is the Coelogyne very beautiful & good for beginners. All well worth a try, I find that far from being a problem they get quite big & robust, thats when i get fed up & give them away which is a shame because theyre easy to divide & repot, That has to be done when the roots are comming out of the pot & can be years between the repotting. The soil for doing that is specialised but easy to get from any garden centre.But doesnt cost a lot especially when you think its only about every 4 or 5 years. The cost in my garden centre is around £20 unless theres a sale on.considering the years they can live for & the novelty & pride in saying you grow Orchids its money well spent. I dont know of another plant that flowers for so long its seems to go one for about 3 months though that could be my rose tinted glasses.