Sunday, June 11, 2006

What to look for when choosing an Orchid

The number one way to choose the best Orchid, for the new Orchid grower, is to choose the right Orchid for your home. The way to fail with Orchids, is choose an Orchid that cannot grow in your environment, and then expect it to thrive. There are only a number of things we can do at home to make an Orchid get conditions it needs. These include:
  • putting the Orchid closer or further from the window
  • repotting the Orchid
  • watering differently
  • moving closer or further away from other plants
  • changing room temperature
Beyond these types of things, if you choose an Orchid that won't fit your conditions at home, you'll need to get a greenhouse or mini greenhouse in your home. Or, you may need to get lights, and create what looks like a mini lab at home.

That is certainly a great option for the Orchid grower who wants a challenge. But, for the Orchid grower who is wanting to grow plants with ease, here is how to do it:
  1. Survey the inside of your house. Do you have shade mostly? Do you have some direct sun coming through windows? Where will you put your Orchids, and more importantly, how flexible are you? Will you be willing to put Orchids in the bathroom? Near the living room window?
  2. Get a light meter (you can get one for $5-20 at any garden store) and measure how much light is in various areas of your house. Also measure how much light, in foot candles, is outside.
  3. Do you like to water plants often? Do you forget often? This will be important.
  4. Do you have pets? If so, you won't want them to eat your plants, so will need to take that into account for where you will put the orchids.
Next, you will need to choose an Orchid that will work well for you in your home.

Here is in brief, how to select an Orchid:

  • You have little light but like a lot of flowers, get a Phalaenopsis.
  • You have little light, but need a more compact plant, get a Paphiopedilum.
  • You have a good amount of light and want big flowers, get a Cattleya.
  • You have bright light and want pretty interesting flowers similar to a Pahlaenopsis, get a Dendroium.
  • You've got very bright light and a lot of humidity... meaning a greenhouse or you live in a tropical area, get a Vanda.
  • You've got medium light and want a compact plant, get a Miltonia.
  • You've got fairly bright light, get an Oncidium.
  • If you have fairly bright light but it does get a bit cold in your house, get an Odonoglossum.
Of these plants above, which are the primary types of Orchids, the easiest to care for, and longest blooming are Phalaenopsis and Dendrobiums.

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