Grow an exotic orchid
The first orchid I ever owned was a present from a friend. I was initially intimidated by the gracefully arched exotic beauty. It was going to be a real challenge for me to keep this pricey and fussy plant alive, I thought. Where should I put it, how often should I water it? How do I get it to bloom again after the flowers are spent? These were the questions zipping through my mind as I graciously accepted my first orchid from my friend.
Ten years have passed and that one orchid plant had grown multiple spikes, been split into separate plants, repotted several times, with some colorful exotics joining the club.
This lens showcases the orchids that I learned to grow through trial and error. You too, can grow an orchid.
All the photos were taken by yours truly Bakerwoman.
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Orchids have a magical beauty and allure with incredible colors, shapes and scents. Perhaps, this contributes to the belief that they are difficult to grow and bloom. I thought so too, but I have become an orchid enthusiast.
Have you ever grown an orchid?
Spectacular white dendrobium bridal veil - The best of shows
My first orchid was a white dendrobium with a single stalk or cane. It flourished, bloomed, and grew multiple offshoots. One year, the dendrobium made a spectacular display of more than 50-some flowers arching gracefully next to the window. The stem was so weighted down that a sturdy pole had to be inserted in the center of the planter to hold up this bridal veil. Have you ever seen anything like this?
Today, some of the older canes have died back, new root shoots called keikis (Hawaiian for babies) are growing from buds on the upper portion of the cane. Eventually, these will be removed and repotted as separate plants.
Orchid food for blooms year after year - Nutrients to keep orchids healthy and prolific
I add 1/8 tsp. of orchid fertilizer to 1 gallon of water for the weekly watering. This is more than what the experts recommend but my orchids do not seem to be complaining.
White Phalaenopsis or 'Moth Orchid' - A classic beauty- a popular wedding flower
Phalaenopsis or Phals, for short, are easily grown in the home and stay in bloom for a very long time. They live in the moist and shady undergrowth fo the forest in Southeast Asia including the Philippines, Taiwan, and many islands in that region.
Phals are monopidial, which means they grow leaves from a central stem. Each year a phal will grow one or two new leaves. To encourage new spikes to emerge from the phals, the plant must experience lower temperatures (60's) at night. Ideal daytime temperature is around 75-85 degrees F.
Delicate Pink Phalaenopsis - Soft touch of a baby's cheeks
Delicate and elegant, the subtle pink phalaenopsis makes it own statement.
Never overwater an orchid. Water every 7-10 days or when the planting medium is dry to the touch. Water orchids in the morning so that the leaves are dry before the evening.
Yellow-orange with purple Phalaenopsis orchid - Star-shaped with perfect symmetry
A lovely contrast to the whites and purple orchids, these yellow-orange phals bring smiles to dreary days. The petals are thick almost like those of succulents.
Mottled purple and white Phalaenopsis - Spotted harlequins
These wild-looking phals never fail to turn heads. Exotic, stunning, and long-lasting, these are one of my favorites.
Yellow and purple Phalaenopsis - A variation of the white and purple phal
Two flowers in 2011. If only we could decipher the secret messages written on the petals. God is indeed the greatest artist of all.
Yellow spotted harlequin has 23 buds and flowers for 2012 - wow!
Never expose an orchid to bright mid-day sun as this will burn and scorch the plant. Indirect sunlight is best.
Muti-branched Phalaenopsis - Fooling Mother Nature
Phals are supposed to have a single stem. But this orchid defied Mother Nature and branched out into several arched blooms. This phenomena occurred several times and then stopped. Digital cameras are wonderful in capturing great moments.
Mother's Day Present 2011
Baldan's Kaleidoscope 'Golden Treasure'
One way I remember orchids is by association. My son gave me this lemony candy-striped Phalaenopsis for Mother's Day in 2011. It came in its own ceramic 4" container. I took a photo of it for posterity and for sentimental reasons. The intricate network of "veins" is eye-popping and the red lips are striking
Mother's Day orchid with new green spike - The gift that keeps giving
See what this little green spike produced below.
My Post-Mother's Day Phal 2012 - Good things come to those who wait
The green spike of "Baldan's Kaleidoscope" rewarded me with five large candy-striped phals on June 3, 2012, three weeks late for Mother's Day. The blooms were larger and were facing in all directions. A belated gift is always a delight.
All about Phalaenopsis or Phals
- Phalaenopsis Care
How to care for a Phalaenopsis orchid. Practical care advice for phalaenopsis including bloom cycle and when to cut spikes.
- Orchid care: cutting the flower spike | The Modern Gardener
The Modern Gardener
- When and where to cut flowering stem on a Phalaenopsis orchid
Flowering orchids is a desired objective of successful orchid cultivation, in our case, Phalaenopsis orchid and it is very difficult to decide whether to cut the flower stem or not.
Miniature white phals with green spikes - Good things do come in small packages
Phalaenopsis orchids' bottom leaves wlll turn yellow and fall off when new growths emerge. Note the new spikes in the two plants. These new shoots will have a display of small white Phals, about the side of half dollars in a couple of months. This photo was taken on Feb. 18, 2012.
Miniature white phals in full bloom - Worth the wait with several weeks of enjoyment
Where to cut a phalaenopsis stem
To get blooms all year round
Method #1 Cut dead stem at base of plant - New spike will emerge from base
There are two ways to induce growth of new spikes after the flowers are spent.
The first way is to lop off the spike at the base. Cutting the flower spike entirely allows the plant to gather its energy for a more spectacular bloom the next time. The photo below shows an old spike which has browned and never produced a new spike at the cut node. This was because I had inadvertently cut the dead stem along with the node where a future spike will emerge. But it was not all in vain because a new green shoot emerged from the base of the leaves.
Method #2 Cut above node of stem - New spike will grow from node
The second way to induce a new spike is to cut the old spike just above a node on the stem while it is still green. This will force a new spike to emerge from the node and rebloom as a branch off the existing spike. This results in more blooms sooner but take energy from the plant and may result in smaller blooms. I have done it both ways and never noticed any difference in the size of the flowers.
Ingredients for thriving orchids
Patience, good air circulation, indirect sunlight and water. Some orchids like warm temperatures and other prefer cool.
How to water orchids
This video illustrates how to water and fertilize an orchid. The only difference is that I catch the running water into a basin and pour this into the next orchid. Why waste the precious orchid food into the drain? Every so often, I give the leaves of the orchid a light shower to rid of the dust. Orchids look great with their healthy and shiny spade-like leaves. Then I wipe these dry with kitchen towels.
Details, details, details
Be mindful of standing water
Most orchids are sold in plastic pots in varying sizes. Before putting the 4-inch Phalaenopsis in the decorative pot, I inserted an inexpensive plastic dish inside topped with a layer of smooth pebbles. A bag of river rocks can be purchased from the dollar store. The river rocks will serve as a drainage for residual liquid after the orchid is watered. It is not a good idea to let an orchid sit directly in water even for only an hour. Leaves will start yellowing. I have lost a couple due to this oversight.
Hide plastic pot in decorative and functional orchid pot
What are the holes for?
These heavily-glazed ceramic orchids pots are beautiful as well as functional. The cutouts come in unique shapes and give the orchids proper ventilation for the root system which is important to keep the plant alive and thriving. The pots come in different sizes, shapes and colors to enhance the beauty of the orchids.
Enhance the beauty of your orchids
Orchids are usually sold in a plastic pot ranging from 3-6" pots. These are then hidden in decorative orchid planters to enhance the beauty of the flowers. Aside from decorative purposes, the cut-outs in the pots are made to improve air circulation.
Purple dendrobium orchid - My pride and joy
There are 4 large planters of purple dendrobium orchids against the sunroom windows. The orchids were placed by the windows because the stalks were tall and there was nowhere else to put them. These were also very prolific plants which continued to grow offshoots and overtime crowding the pots. Fortunately, dendrobiums like to be root-bound.
The morning sun and the afternoon shade made this a perfect location for the purple beauties. Evening temperatures are about 60's which forced the bloom spikes to emerge in the late Winter. This explains why the purple denbrodium orchids are my best performers in the house. Weekly watering and fertilizing played a key role too.
Orchids like daytime temperatures of around 70's and colder evenings (60's). Never place orchids next to heating registers and radiators.
I closed the vents on the floor next to my orchids even in the winter so these plants do not get dehydrated. Keep a dish of gravel with some water on the bottom of the planter to maintain humidity. Never let orchids sit directly on water.
All about Dendrobium orchids
The key to a happy orchid is to move the pot as little as possible.
Water thoroughly to saturate the bark mixture and drain well. Dendrobiums store water in their rhizomes and like to dry out between waterings.
Repot once every two years in Spring, after blooming, or when new growth starts. A mix of 10 parts fine-grade Fir-bark and 1 part orchid mix will work well in 6" pots and smaller, while medium-grade Fir-bark works well in larger pots.
Repotting Your Orchids
Orchids potting mix to create spectacular blooms
Orchids need special growing medium
Orchids grow on tree barks in the rainforests of Southeast Asia. Orchids are not parasites and do not rely on the host trees for nutrients. Instead, they get their nutrients from the air. Orchids are epiphytes or 'air plants.' Hence, orchid potting mix are usually made of bark with other loose materials. These products are fertile mixtures of chunks of peat blended with western fir bark, hardwood charcoal and coarse perlite. Proper drainage is essential for proper growth and root health of the orchids.
Sun Bulb 5011 Better-Gro Phalaenopsis Mix, 8 Quarts
Cymbidium or boat orchid - The orchid that came back to life outdoors
This cymbidium orchid was spectacular after I took it home from a local nursery. But after the flowers were spent, the leaves browned and were unattractive and the plant did not bloom for the next two years. It was given up for dead and the cymbidium plant was banished outdoors under a Japanese maple tree where it was shaded and stayed cool most of the time. It gets watered once a week or even less and was pretty much ignored for sometime until beautiful yellow and orange blooms started to grow late Winter. The flamboyant blooms have a waxy texture and last ten weeks.
The lesson I learned here is that the cymbidium preferred to be in a cool shaded area with indirect sunlight and liked drying out between waterings.
Growing cymbidiums made easy
- Cymbidium Orchid | Everything Orchids
Try growing a Cymbidium orchid as they will reward you with sprays of huge showy flowers that last for months! Come here to see how to grow these gorgeous orchids!
- Cymbidium Society of America: An International Orchid Society
The Cymbidium Society of America was founded to stimulate and extend the appreciation of cymbidiums, paphiopedilums and other cool-growing orchids.
- Facts about Cymbidium
Cymbidiums are most popular winter & spring blooming orchids, symbolism of virtue and morality, Consists of 44 species. Learn interesting information Facts, Growing, Plant Caring Tips about Cymbidium
The world's most exotic flowers
You deserve to grow one
Life is too short not to grow an orchid. Now is just as good as anytime to get one for yourself or for a friend. Imagine the feeling of pride and satisfaction when your orchid blooms again and again.
Beallara Pluto's Drummer orchid Near Blooming Size
Funny, informative, and a visual delight - 5-star rated book--almost
This book will convince even the most nervous newbies that orchids are not hard to grow. Set your fears about orchids being fussy, temperamental and difficult after reading Judy White's award-winning book. A great reference book with a humorous outtake that will keep you peeled to the pages and the spectacular close-up photos whet your appetite for orchids.