Orchids are exotic and tropical plants. Due to the attractiveness and variety of their flower and the well-balanced structure, they give elegance to any space. These original flowers that have millions of fans in the world belong to a real empire of unusual shapes and colors. Because of the patterns and fantastic details, some of them are incredibly reminiscent of insects and birds. Orchids have been a symbol of love and beauty since ancient times. On many occasions, from weddings to conferences, floral arrangements made of orchids were often the only table arrangements.
There are over 30,000 orchid species in nature, and over 100,000 registered hybrids. Their natural habitat is tropical and subtropical moist forests. Some species are extremely rare and very difficult to grow outside their natural habitat because they require very specific conditions and a lot of care. In nature, orchids hang from the trees or grow on them and collect moisture from the air through their roots. Orchids belong to the second largest family of plants on Earth, outnumbered only by the grass family. Currently, there are 30,000 species, and 200 new species are added to that numerous family each year. It is estimated that there are about 25,000 more species in nature, or hybrids, that are or will only be created by man. In Ecuador, on the Andean peaks, species of orchids have been discovered, which are shrouded in snow and ice at night, and with the advent of morning and the first rays of sun when the snow melts, they normally grow and thrive despite the harsh living conditions.
The most popular type of orchid among florists and gardeners is the orchid by the name of Phalaenopsis. You will find it in all the flower shops, garden centers as well as larger markets. It is famous for fleshy, oval leaves, as well as thin twigs, on which the plant blooms in bunches. Its flowers are in different colors, from monochrome to multi-color combinations. They are grown as houseplants and often used for decoration because their flowers are of different colors or patterns and last a long time. This type of orchid is considered one of the easiest to maintain, and is therefore the best choice for beginners. When you buy an orchid, it will be in bloom, planted in a suitable substrate and in a thin and transparent pot. You must completely transfer it to a decorative pot and provide it with enough light and water. Phalaenopsis will be happy to bloom for the next 6 to 10 weeks. Most orchids bloom once a year, but if the care they receive is pleasant, they can bloom for 3 or 4 times.
The advantage of translucent pots is that you can keep track of how the roots of the plant behave, and so you will know when it’s time for a new watering.With orchids, we are not talking about classic watering. You will provide the plants with the necessary water by immersing it once a week with its transparent pot in a larger container full of water. Hold the plant in the container for about 15 minutes to allow the roots to absorb water well. Then drain the pot from the excess water by leaving it dry, let it be in the sink for an additional 10 minutes, and then return the pot with the plant to the decorative pot you intended for it.
You can repeat this dipping procedure every other week, but be sure to check the condition of the roots before each dip. If it is still light green and full, it means there is plenty of water in it, so wait for a day to soak. If the roots have shrunk, almost turned brown, and have a silvery color, then it’s time to get some water. Remember, orchids do not like to have their roots submerged in water, because in this way it will start to rot.
The orchid will be happy to bloom if you give it enough light. Therefore, place the plant best near the window, but in a place that is not exposed to fluctuations and sensible temperature differences. If your window is exposed to strong sunlight and high temperatures, especially during the summer months, move the orchid to another location or move it away from direct sunlight. The orchid loves a moderate temperature and constant conditions, and changes from warm to cold will certainly not suit her. Remember that the plant is not fond of the frequent change of location, but it would be ideal to find her a permanent place in the house.
When your plant is finished flowering, the stem that has carried the flowers will begin to change color and dry. When dried, it is free to cut it at the very base, from where it originates from the plant. The plant is now entering the resting phase. Just provide her with regular watering and wait for her diet. After a while, you will notice that the embryo of the new stem appears. Now is the time to ease the plant by providing it with fertilizer. In all major garden centers, farm pharmacies, and supermarkets, you will find a rod-shaped orchid fertilizer. Orchids love a urea-free diet that will provide it with nitrogen, which naturally exists in garden soil. Just stick one of these sticks in the substrate that the plant is in. It will decay over time. Pause for a while and repeat. Continue this practice during flowering. Alternatively, you can also use liquid fertilizer for orchids, which will be diluted in water. Orchids do not like to eat excessively and often, so be moderate in good intentions towards your orchid.
Over time, especially if you have the same orchid for several years, its roots will outgrow the pot, and it will take up almost all of its space and begin to expand beyond it. Then it’s time to transplant the orchid, actually shortening the roots. The basic rule is to never transplant an orchid while it is in bloom, as it will be a stress for the plant, which can not only shorten its flowering time, but also cause the plant to start to lose flowers. Wait for the flowering to stop, and for the plant to enter its resting phase. Then it’s a good time to cut her messy roots. You can do this simply by shaking the plant out of the pot and emptying the pot off the substrate. Take sharp garden scissors and shorten the roots to a length so they can fit the pot, and do it again. Do not leave the plant for too long, as you will have to repeat this process quickly. It is very important that the scissors be sharp to make clean and open cuts that will allow the plant to absorb water. Do not cut the root too short, as the plant will not be able to feed adequately.
Take this opportunity to wash the clear plastic pot, then substitute the plant for a new substrate. Over time, the substrate in which the orchid is located will begin to decompose, which causes it to stifle the root, as it is no longer loose and does not allow sufficient airflow. Phalaenopsis orchid uses a substrate that is usually the bark of conifers, fir or pine. This substrate does not retain water excessively, is easy to strain and allows sufficient airflow between the roots of the plant, which is necessary to prevent rot, fungi and disease. You will find the substrate in smaller packages, even in flower shops that sell orchids and will last for years. Do not be surprised if the orchid does not bloom after transplanting for some time, maybe even a year. It’s a normal reaction.
In addition to Phalaenopsis orchids, you can also find Cattleya orchids, which are also popular for home growing. Aside from being interesting looking, they are not that demanding to maintain, so they are a great choice for beginners growing orchids. They have aerial roots, and the stems are thickened into buns that serve as a storehouse of water. In terms of care and placement requirements, it is similar to Phalaenopsis – loves a lot of light (but not direct sun), it must be watered by immersion when the substrate is dried and planted in a special soil mix for orchids. There are differences in the appearance of the flower (there is no flower branch with more flowers, but each flower emerges from single branch). Also, it can be propagated relatively easily by sharing. When the roots fill the pot, which happens approximately every 2-3 years, groups of 5-8 can be separated and planted separately.
One of the oldest types of orchids, which was cultivated in China in the year 500 BC, is Cymbidium. Very often it can be found in flower shops with trimmed flowers, because its flowers appear very large. Provided we adhere to a few basic rules, it regularly blooms and excels. Unlike the aforementioned orchids, it tolerates lower air temperatures (can withstand up to 7 Celsius during the winter months) but withstands a maximum of some 30 degrees during the summer. From spring until the onset of the first cold, it can be set on a shady terrace (because it tolerates the morning sun), but it should be provided with good air circulation and humidification in order to more easily survive the high summer temperatures. Also, in order to bloom (it usually blooms during the winter), it needs to be provided with a low temperature period. To encourage flower formation, it is best to place it in a bright, unheated corridor. The substrate should never be allowed to dry completely, so it should be watered up to 2 times a week during the summer. It is known to like small pots, so that when it is transplanted, it should not be too large.
For orchids to thrive and bloom richly, it does matter where the light comes from. Most varieties succeed in a north-facing window, followed by a south or west window. In the summer months, if you believe the sun to be too strong, be sure to protect the plants by lowering the shutter or pulling up the curtain.
Orchids are susceptible to many insects and diseases. In addition to common parasites, they are also susceptible to herbaceous and lice. Lice is usually pinned to the back of the leaf, and the plants that are covered with lice should be cutted. Diseases that are a common with orchids include markings such as spots on the leaves, burned leaves and various fungi infections, such as black root. Another common problem is the inability to flower, which usually occurs due to poor growth conditions, especially in the absence of light and / or fertilizer. Viruses are currently an incurable problem, and can hardly be distinguished from fungal infections. Seeking advice from a professional is always a good idea if you are unsure what is wrong with your plant. If your orchids are infected with the virus, remove the plants immediately and disinfect the containers if you plan to keep new plants in them.
When buying an orchid in a pot, it is for the best to see if it has a declaration with the name of the species and basic care information. Do not be astounded by the beauty of the orchid and its colorful flowers. Focus on her appearance, and pay special attention to the leaves. They must be firm, green, facing up, and must not be dry, yellowish or dark. In addition to the flowers, the plant must have plenty of buds, because in that case it will bloom longer.
Last but certainly not least is love, which is the highlight of everything. The more we love them and pay more attention to them, the more beautiful they are. And they are not difficult to love because they really give us beauty and joy in cultivation.