All the excess water needs to drain out of the pot after watering your orchid, this will prevent rotting roots; many orchids grow on trees in the wild where their roots are exposed to the air.

Check this section again for more tips.

Orchids grow new shoots, often more than once per year, and the oldest shoots eventually die off; in most cases, however, the plant as a whole is immortal.

The first tropical orchids in European cultivation were brought to England in the mid 18th century.

There are orchids less than one half inch in height - the whole plant! - and there are others much larger than the largest human, weighing around a half ton. Most, however, are of a handy size for us to grow and enjoy.



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Frequently Asked Questions

Why won't my orchids (other than Phalaenopsis) rebloom?
This may be a different matter with each orchid, however the most common causes are under watering - there are actually very few orchids that need to dry out between waterings. Most like to remain consistently, evenly moist.

Second most common reason is not enough light, and the third is not enough fertilizer or fertilizer applied incorrectly (generally, too strong a solution). There's an equation the orchids use: Light + Fertilizer = Flowers.

And, why won't my Phalaenopsis rebloom?
Phalaenopsis bloom in response to changes in day length, which is why we see many plants, even young ones, blooming in late winter through the spring as the days get longer. However, they also will bloom in response to lowered temperature, with nights in the upper 50s ideal to persuade them. The corollary is that if they have nights that never drop below 68 degrees F they will not bloom.

Do they bloom every year?
Some do - many bloom 2 or even 3 times each year. Modern hybrids often simply bloom when the new shoot is finished growing; this is the case with the Oncidiums, Odontoglossum hybrids, Miltonias and many others. Some, like Cattleyas, do have a season, but this will vary with individual plants and their specific pedigrees.

How many kinds are there?
The orchids comprise the largest plant family in terms of number of species, with around 28,000 different varieties found in the wild. In addition, humans have created over 110,000 artificial hybrids - that is, crosses between species and/or hybrids that have been named - there are more that were rather homely and so nobody bothered to give them names. In nature, hybridization is one of the methods used to generate new species.

Why so many kinds?
Nature makes lots of kinds of orchids because she can! With variations in climate, and isolated geographical features like mountains, islands, low and high rainfall areas, etc., and thousands of insects (and now people) to pollenate them, there are so many variations on themes of where to live and what pollinating bugs live there that it should be surprising if there weren't this degree of variation.

How long have they been cultivated?
In the West, the first tropical orchids arrived in Europe in the mid 18th century from the Caribbean region; in China, Korea and Japan, esteemed varieties have been grown since ancient times, around 3,000 years or more. And in other areas, indigenous peoples have marveled at great beauty and desired that it be close at hand, even as we do now, and have taken a plant or two from the surrounding forest to place on a handy rock or log...perhaps for tens of thousands of years.

Why are they expensive?
There are two equally valid answers to this question. One, they're not expensive at all - consider that a Phalaenopsis may easily bloom for four months in perfection. Compare that to a fine meal at a posh restaurant, which may (including an exquisite bottle of wine) cost as much or more than that blooming Phalaenopsis - but you'll be hungry tomorrow! The second answer is simply that the time the plant spends in a greenhouse adds up to costing more; but for this much breathtaking beauty, they're worth it - there's no flower more beautiful.

How old is my plant?
Orchids take years to come to the maturity that allows them to bloom as prolifically as the orchids we offer. How many? Typically 5 to 8, although we do have a few orchids in the greenhouse that took 12 years.

How long can I expect my orchid to live?
Hmmm. Given that there are orchid plants that have been in cultivation in England since the 1860s, the actual question is how long you can take care of it. Most orchids are capable of surviving not only us, but our descendants as well.

Are they hard to care for?
Actually, the detailed care instructions are what we'd do for any house plant - so no, no more difficult than any house plants.

What's this stuff it's planted in?
In nature, orchids grow on trees, on rocks, but most of the popular varieties do not grow in dirt or soil of any kind - so, in pots we use mixes of bark, volcanic rock, small amounts of peat moss, sometimes coconut fiber - all substances that allow plenty of air to get to the roots yet hold some water. Soil will suffocate the roots, killing the plant.

But what do I do when I go on vacation?
Your orchids will get along fine - you can water them thoroughly just before leaving, and if you're gone for a week, that will suffice; if longer, you might leave them in a shallow dish with 1/2 inch of water to let them drink a little longer. For periods of more than 2 weeks you should really have a friend come over and water them, as well as your other house plants.

Why are some of the leaves wrinkly like an accordion?
This is caused by periods of low humidity. A frequent indication that your orchid needs a touch more water.

And some of the leaves are brown - why?
Older leaves die - this is the orchids' trick to living indefinitely: they discard the oldest parts of the plant as they grow new shoots.

I left my orchid in the car in the sun. Why did it die?
Parked cars in sunlight often reach temperatures in excess of 120 degrees F. Most living organisms can't survive - orchids, puppies...

But my mother in Arizona can't keep one can she?
We know people in desert communities who successfully maintain and rebloom their orchids in one of two places: on the windowsill over the kitchen sink, or on the windowsill in the bathroom. Anywhere we run water frequently, humidity is generated sufficiently so that the orchid is comfortable - and since we're at the sink frequently, we can remember to water it the little bit extra that might be necessary in drier climates. In short: of course she can!

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