Among the most beautiful flowers in the world are orchids. These plants produce some of the most exotic and colorful blooms possible, and it is not to be wondered that many people would love to grow them in their home. Unfortunately, orchids have gotten a reputation for being fussy and difficult plants, and this has prevented indoor gardeners from enjoying them as much as they should. Of course, there are orchids that are very demanding and specific in their living requirements, and these are best left to the experienced plant grower. But, there are many species and hybrids that adapt well to living in the house, as long as a few simple rules are followed.
Choosing a species of orchid that is easy to care for is the best way to introduce orchids into the home. Cattleyas are not only very beautiful (they are the orchids usually used for corsages), but they are relatively easy to grow. Moth Orchids, Phalaenopsis orchids, are also good for beginners, as are Dendrobium orchids. Any of these will provide weeks or months of flowers with just a little care.
Orchids must be grown in the proper medium in order to thrive and bloom. Epiphytic orchids should never be planted in soil as this will not allow for the air circulation around the roots that orchids require. Most orchids evolved as epiphytes, growing on branches high above the ground, so they are used to and need air moving around their roots. There are quite a few good potting mixes designed specifically for orchids, some made from bark, coconut fiber, or spaghnum moss. The pot chosen should not be too large, it should just allow the orchid to fit in comfortably without being forced. The orchid is best repotted just as new growth begins after the rest period.
While orchids do need a humid environment, they will suffer if over watered. When growing in the forest, the frequent rains will drain quickly so that the roots generally have a chance to dry off between showers. Orchids need to be watered only when the soil feels dry, one or perhaps two times a week. It might be a good idea to add some fertilizer every two weeks to make sure that your orchid is properly nourished. To provide a bit more humidity, set the orchid pot on a dish of pebbles. Keep water in this dish at all times, but do not allow the pot to touch the water – the idea here is to provide extra moisture by evaporation, which will mimic the humid conditions of the rain forest. A light misting every day will help to keep the orchid happy also.
An east window is probably the best place for most orchids, they are used to diffuse light in their natural surroundings and some will not easily tolerate direct, strong sunlight. If the orchid does not receive adequate light from the east window alone, it can be placed in a west window in the afternoon, as long as care is taken to make sure the sun is not too strong. Yellowing leaves will indicate that the orchid is receiving too much light.