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
Check this section again for more tips.
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.
on the book cover below to go to one of the many orchid-related
titles offered by Amazon.com!
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
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
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
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
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,
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!