A Beginners Guide to Caring For Orchids

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Orchids are probably one of the most famous flowers in the world. They are also surrounded by myths about how difficult it is to try to grow them. They have a special air to them, but the truth is that many varieties are not difficult to grow and you can even propagate your own. And, yes, you can make them bloom over and over again.

Of course, like all plants, they need specific conditions to grow well, but their needs vary. Many people are surprised to learn that their region can also have varieties ranging from desert to temperate rain forests.

Let’s learn about the wonderful world of orchids.

What are orchids?

Most orchids are found in tropical regions of the world such as Asia and South and Central America. However, there are varieties that grow on every continent except the Arctic and Antarctica.

Orchids can be divided into two groups:

epiphytic The wind is rising. In the wild, this variety grows on trees. They are found on trees and stumps where they draw moisture and nutrients from the air and the decaying leaves of the forest.

cosmic Orchids, as the name suggests, are orchids that grow in soil in the ground.

varieties of orchids

With nearly 30,000 varieties of orchids and more than 200,000 hybrids, it’s easy to get overwhelmed even thinking about growing them, but with the right selection, you have a great chance of success.

Since there are a large number of varieties, we will narrow it down to those that are best for the beginner orchid grower. Feel free to explore and experiment with other varieties, especially if there are native orchids in your area, as they are well suited to your particular climate.

This list for beginners could easily be dozens of orchids long, so talk to your local nursery and they can share what’s available and suitable in your area.

Paphiopedilum

The ladies slipper or slipper orchid is one of the easiest to grow for beginners. This is one you’ll often see for sale at supermarkets and farmers markets. It is a terrestrial variety with long blooming flowers that come in a variety of colors.

cymbidium

Boat orchids are ideal for beginners because they produce large blooms and are not as fussy as some other varieties. They are native to Asia and can tolerate cooler temperatures than many other orchids. It makes a great outdoor variety in temperate regions.

Phalaenopsis

If you have been gifted an orchid in a pot, it may very well be a nod to this popular early variety. Moth orchids, as they are sometimes called, come in many colors and although they look delicate, they are surprisingly strong. They are epiphytic but grow well in pots indoors where they like heat, moisture and plenty of food.

Oncidium

Quite easy to grow, the swaying flowers of this orchid look like dancers tossed in the air, giving the plant the nickname dancing orchid. They are fast growing and require about five to eight hours of light every day.

brasavola

If you want to try horseradish orchids as a beginner (we’ll talk about that later) then this is perfect for you. It is highly aromatic and is also suitable for container growing. It is a bit more drought resistant than most varieties.

Dendrobium

I like it for beginners and it is what I started with. It’s perfect because you don’t need to replant it as often (maybe every two or three years) because it hates to be bothered. It prefers to be rooted in a pot and despises wet feet.

fias tankerville

It is a large variety, but growth is straight and compact. It is known to reach four feet in height, so it is impressive.

how to move out

I recommend that beginners try growing orchids indoors in pots until they get used to the intricacies of growing orchids. That said, it is possible to grow them outside.

In Zones 6 to 9, many orchids can be grown in the garden. If temperatures drop below 40ºF, put the plants in containers so you can move them inside. Be careful though, growing orchids outside as a beginner can often result in a series of failures.

Remember that orchids require loose sunlight, humidity above 40 percent, and most require a good amount of moisture.

try:

  • Ladies slippers for shaded areas of your garden
  • Nun’s orchid for partially shaded and partially sunny areas. Always keep the soil moist so consider irrigation.
  • The moth orchid will require deep shade as opposed to direct sunlight outside.

Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Encyclopedia, and Spathoglottis are all good choices.

growing orchids indoors

I plant all my orchids indoors because of the environment I live in. It is either too hot in the summer or too cold to grow outside in the winter.

Typically, if you buy orchids from a retailer or grower, they come in a clear plastic pot with lots of holes. This is because most orchids require good air flow and drainage. Then you place it inside a decorative container.

If the outer pot supplied is a cheap plastic one with no holes or drainage, find something else. Terra cotta breathes well, which is ideal, but any pot with drainage holes works.

You can also find baskets or wooden slotted containers made specifically for orchids. They usually need to be lined with peat moss or coconut husk, but they do allow good airflow to the roots. They require frequent watering as they flow freely.

I highly recommend the basket type containers as they are the easiest to use.

Always use a medium that is specific to orchids. Do not use standard potting mix.

Water twice a week by keeping the pot under the tap. Use lukewarm water and stop when the water drains out of the pot. Do not water the leaves.

Use an orchid-specific fertilizer from one month after you bring it home. While it is blooming, fertilize every two weeks. After that fertilize once a month.

Repot every few years as the roots grow and fill the container.

growing orchids

Epiphytic orchids can be planted on hardwood or cork slabs. Once you’ve mastered potting orchids, think of this as the next step. Cattleyas, especially Brassvola orchids, do well using this method.

One advantage of this method is that you don’t need to repot your orchid as often. The disadvantage is that you have to put in a lot of effort in watering.

Remove the orchid from its container and remove any soil or potting medium. Soak the orchid in water for 20 minutes to make the roots more flexible. Soak some sphagnum moss and wrap it around Mt. Spread the roots around the moss. Secure everything in place.

You can also use soft string, pantyhose, or fishing line to secure it.

This is a natural way for an orchid to grow, but you have to make sure you are providing the right amount of water for your particular type of orchid. You will also need to use a foliar fertilizer.

propagated orchids

It is almost impossible to grow orchids from seeds. Where most seeds store nutrition for growth, but orchid seeds do not. They have to fall off a plant and come into contact with a special fungus that enters it to convert nutrients.

Promote yourself in these ways.

from a stem

Choose the stem you are going to use. It should be thick, healthy and at least eight to ten inches long.

Cut the stem as close to the base as possible, just above the node or leaf joint. Cut the stem into small pieces that have two knots on them.

Place them in a tray covered with moist sphagnum moss and place the tray in a plastic bag. You are trying to create a humid environment so put the bag in the sun.

Keep the soil moist. Once you see seedlings emerge, tent the plastic bag using sticks so the seedlings have room to grow.

Once the seedlings have several leaves, you can transplant them into pots.

offshoot

For beginners, this is the easiest way to propagate orchids. Some orchids will develop a little branching at the base. When the branch has at least three leaves and an inch of roots, cut it off carefully. Plant it in sphagnum moss and keep moist.

How to get your orchid to bloom again

Many people buy an orchid at the store and bring it home to enjoy the stunning flowers. But when those flowers fade, many people jump off the plant and start something new. But with the right steps, you can get your orchids to bloom again and again.

To convince your orchid to send new flowers, you have to trick it into thinking it is in its original habitat.

Each orchid is different in its needs, but the main elements you need to adjust are light, water, food, and temperature. Cut off any spent flower spikes to tell the plant that it’s time to think about sending new flowers.

If you place your orchid in an east-facing window, you won’t need to do anything. Otherwise, you’ll have to try to recreate the long and short days of the natural annual cycle.

You will need to give your orchid a different temperature than normal. Most require a cool period to indicate the time of their bloom. Read about the temperature requirements of your particular species.

Switch to a phosphorus-heavy fertilizer until the plants are in bloom and water a little more than usual.

Common problems and solutions for growing

Many things can go wrong when growing orchids, but these are the most common things a beginner faces.

Bud Blast

If your buds are drying or dropping for no apparent reason, you may have bud blast. This can be caused by incorrect watering, insufficient or too much light, or incorrect humidity. Research your plants’ preferred conditions and be careful to recreate them as often as possible.

You should also keep an eye out for pests or diseases that can cause bud break.

root rot

Orchids hate wet feet in a medium that doesn’t drain. Your plant will turn yellow as if it is not getting enough nutrients. Check if the roots are black and pulpy. Cut off the affected roots and plant them in new medium. Again, be careful how much water you’re watering.

bacterial rot

With bacterial rot, the plant looks similar to one that has been over-watered. Leaves and stems may wither, turn yellow, or become mottled. Remove the orchid from its container, wash off the existing medium and replant in the clean medium. Then, treat with a copper fungicide spray.

mealybugs

Mealybugs are tiny sapsuckers that damage your orchid and leave behind honeydew deposits. Your orchid will look like it has tiny cotton balls on it. Use neem oil with a little pyrethrum for a knockdown effect.

stag beetle

Spotted leaves and flowers that don’t open can be a sign of thrips. I find that an insecticidal soap works to control these pests.

Spider mites

You probably won’t see spider mites because they are so small. However you can see their tiny webs. Small yellow or brown spots on the leaves can often be caused by spider mites. Use neem oil or miticide, and see our guide for more tips.

Tips for Growing Beginner Orchids

  • Don’t be alarmed by growing orchids. You might be surprised how easy it is to grow them.
  • water well.
  • feed regularly.
  • Provide proper moisture and light.
  • Use a medium specific to orchids, not a standard potting mix.
  • Choose a variety for beginners and use a container.

Besides that, enjoy.

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