Growing plants in the home is not only an entertaining hobby, but it often brightens and cheers the house as well. Houseplants are especially rewarding when they flower, and hardly any plant can rival the blooms produced by orchids. As more knowledge of their care has become widespread, orchids have become a favorite choice for indoor gardening. It is true that some orchid species are very fussy in their growing requirements, but many more are easy to grow as long as certain basic conditions are met.
A good choice for someone just starting with orchids are the Moth Orchids, or Phalaenopsis orchids. Not only are these relatively easy to grow, but the bloom period will literally last for months. Moth Orchids enjoy fairly warm temperatures, and will thrive best at 70 to 80 degrees. Like most orchids, however, Moth Orchids will want to be kept humid, and this is best done by placing their pot on a dish containing pebbles. By making sure that the pebbles are always wet, a moist microclimate will provide the humidity the orchid needs. An extra bit of humidity can be added by misting the Moth Orchid once a day.
Most orchids that will be grown as houseplants are ones that were originally epiphytes – orchids that grew in debris on the branches of trees rather than in the ground. These orchids are used to living in a fairly open and loose medium, and this must be duplicated in the home. They will not be able to thrive if put into soil. The growing medium for orchids is usually some kind of moss or bark, to duplicate as closely as possible the natural growing conditions. Good air circulation is vital for the orchid’s roots, so the orchid should only be watered when the growing medium feels dry, probably about every four or five days. Some growers will water their orchid, let the water drain completely, then give the plant another dose of water. To simulate the dry season, water more infrequently during the winter, only once or twice a month.
Under natural conditions, most orchids grow midway between the ground and the tops of the jungle trees. The sunlight they receive is filtered and diffuse, but fairly constant. It may be difficult to duplicate these conditions in the home, but usually keeping the orchid on an east-facing window will provide the necessary light. Some people will move their orchids to a west window in the afternoon. Be aware, though, that afternoon sun might be too intense for the orchid, so watch for signs of distress.
Orchids do not need to be repotted frequently, and actually enjoy being potbound. However, a time will be reached when the orchid is ready to move to a larger pot, and there are some indications that will tell the owner this – mushy roots, an overhanging pseudobulb, and deteriorated potting medium are all signs that the orchid must be repotted. The best time to repot an orchid is after its rest period when new growth is just starting up. Unless it is an emergency, do not repot while the orchid is blooming or forming buds.
Many people hesitate to grow orchids as houseplants because they believe they will be too difficult to maintain, but a little care and research will go a long way to providing a beautiful plant to almost any household.