TOP TEN ORCHID GROWING TIPS

As with many plants once you know what they need then it is relatively simple to grow them successfully. Of course some plants are more difficult than others, but fortunately orchids do not come into this category. I found these top ten tips over at the Oregon Orchid Society website. The society was established in 1945 so they ought to know what they are talking about.

1 ? Know your orchid
With nearly 30,000 species of orchid (growing on six continents) and many times that in hybrids the question of ?How do I grow this orchid? could have many, many answers.? It is best if you know the exact name of your orchid, or if that?s not available, what type of orchid it is (what ?genus? or ?alliance?).? If you have no tag and are unsure of this, why not bring the plant to your local orchid society for some identification?
Once you know what type of orchid(s) you have you will need to find out what the requirements are in the basic categories of LIGHT, WATER, TEMPERATURE and if there are any other special requirements for that orchid such as a dry winter spell.? This will include the best way to pot or mount your orchid considering where you grow.? We have a chart that covers some of the orchid groups on our website here.
2 ? REPOT YOUR ORCHID!
We don?t repot our orchids to get them into bigger pots. We might need to do that, but orchids like Phalaenopsis (monopodial orchids that grow straight up and not out) will almost never need a bigger pot.? The purpose of orchid repotting is to keep the potting media fresh.? When the media breaks down its chemistry changes which will affect the plant.? Also, it becomes less like bark and more like dirt ? which essentially strangles the roots that, in the wild, grow out in the air. Most, not all, orchids would benefit from an annual repotting.? This is often done after blooming to avoid stressing out the plant or affecting it?s growth cycle which typically happens between blooms.? Regardless of when you?re repotting, you should always do so if the media has gone bad ? and be aware that many of the mass-produced, grocery store orchids are purchased in poor or old media and should be repotted as soon as possible!? We hear a lot of people say that they?ve ?killed orchids?.?? Consider the suboptimal conditions that the orchids were in when they were sold and it might just be that the orchid was, without some very special treatment, doomed from before they bought it.? Our video tutorial page has a repotting video that we did on Garden Time TV.
3 ? Don?t use ice cubes
Let?s just dispel this rumor at the start: orchids are tropical plants, watering them with ice cubes is not just counter-intuitive, it?s a sure fire way to shorten your orchid?s life.? Most orchids live in tropical areas and are drenched daily with lukewarm water (rain, that is) ? and see high humidity the rest of the day.? Not every orchid is the same so tip number 1 (above) should be heeded here, but we want to mimic their natural conditions which we do as closely as possible with a good potting mix (bark and perlite in many cases) that will allow airflow around the roots and then water them liberally once a week to soak the bark thoroughly.? This will give them the drenching they want (though it?s not daily) and the humidity they also require as the bark dries out during the week.? Your growing space may require watering more or less often.? Orchids generally want a wet-dry cycle of some sort (to mimic the rain).? For plants like Phalaenopsis, you should water when the mix has become dry (not BONE dry, but ?unmoist?).? Stick your finger into the mix to see if it is still moist near the center.? If it is, don?t water it. If it?s dry then it?s time to water ? and if your conditions are consistent you will probably be watering at that same interval down the road (but do the finger test often just to be sure). If you?re still convinced about the wonders of the ice cube on orchids, you can read more here.
4 ? Grow orchids that fit your growing area
Orchids have a wide variety wants and needs since there are so many species. They?ve evolved over millions of years to like very specific things. Some of them are better than others at being flexible with what they want, but most species orchids are very particular.? Hybrids are usually less fussy and in that regard easier to grow.? Your orchids are going to be happiest if they don?t have to live in conditions that are very different from what they naturally want.? So when you purchase orchids you should think about where you?re going to put them.? If you have a greenhouse, you potentially have a lot more control than someone growing in the home.? In the home consider the amount of light that you can provide, the temperature that you keep your house at (day and night), the amount of humidity that your house has (air conditioning and heating remove humidity) and the quality of your water.? These are all things that you could change if you wanted to put some extra work into it (like buying supplemental lights or collecting rain water) but if you simply want an orchid without putting out all that effort, you should look for one that likes what you already have.? The great thing about orchids is that there are so many types, so there should be a wide selection of orchids that will be fine in your conditions, but you are setting yourself up for potential failure if you buy orchids that want the opposite of what you can provide.? Here?s a link again to our chart of basic orchid wants and needs: Orchid Cultivation.

Read the rest at Oregon Orchid Society
Image source: Robin Miller