Orchids: The Complete Guide to Growing and Caring for These Beautiful Flowers
The Orchidaceae family, widely known as the orchids family, consists of several species of flowering plants. There are only two major families of flowering plants, and these two are the Asteraceae and the Fabaceae.
The Orchids family is the largest family of flowering plants, with more than 27,000 species. They are widespread in temperate and tropical regions and live in diverse habitats from mossy forests to tree trunks in rainforests.
Orchids are not just expensive because of their beauty but are also prized by everyone who loves flowers. In addition, these flowers can be unique because orchids are one of the most distinguished-looking flowers ever.
It’s not just that; many varieties of plants are considered to be endangered. They are difficult to find because their natural habitat has been destroyed in the wild, especially in the case of some of the more uncommon varieties. Today, only about 50 or fewer species of trees can be found and grown.
Orchids are beautiful, elegant, and unique in their appearance. They are lovely gifts for a loved one because of the calming environment they create wherever they are kept. Despite being quite delicate flowers, orchids are also easy to care for. You can find them mostly in funerals, signifying everlasting love for the
Orchids look gorgeous in any room of the house and act as a stress reliever, making them one of the most sought-after house plants around the world.
Origin and Cultivation of Orchids
At least some varieties of plants grow everywhere except in the Antarctica continent.
The first traces of trees that scientists found could be dated almost 120 million years back, but it was first documented in Chinese herbal medicine – using the Chinese name for it, Ian – about 3,000 or 4,000 years ago. They mainly grew in China, Rome, and Greece when it was officially first recorded by a scholar named Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle.
Later, during the 18th century, orchids were carried back to the new world by travelers and explorers who visited Asia and Europe. Now, every country in the world grows a few varieties of this depending on the weather conditions.
The cultivation of orchids doesn’t require any soil, making it the perfect plant to grow indoors and outdoors. This is also why orchid plants have evolved depending on the climate of every region; it has grown into and flourished in more than 50 varieties.
Propagation of Orchids
When you already have an orchid plant at home, there are several ways that you can propagate more plants from it.
Most beginners can propagate plants from stem cuttings, which are usually possible in the case of single-stemmed orchid plants like Vanda. In mature plants, when the stem grows thick and strong, the top half can be cut off, leaving the bottom part of the stem and the roots to grow into another plant.
The top part, containing the flower, can be replanted and will last a long time; with luck, the top plants can also grow roots under the right circumstances.
For multi-stemmed orchids, the process of division is the perfect one. First, untangle the roots and divide the plants into healthy adult plants with plenty of canes. Then, each orchid plant with at least 3 to 4 bulbs actively growing on its roots can be replanted separately and grow into individual plants.
Orchid plants can also be grown from seeds, especially the Catasetum variety, which has both male and female flowers on the same plant. However, this is a lengthy process that might take up to two years for the plant to grow and for flowers to appear.
One of the easiest ways to propagate orchids is with the vining orchid species, i.e., Vanilla Planifolia. With this species, you can simply chop off a vine and replant it, and the cuttings will grow root and start to grow.
Depending on the species, the overall propagation of orchid plants is relatively easy and not too much of a hassle for any beginner.
How to Grow Orchids
When it comes to growing this, there’s a golden rule that everyone should follow; i.e., duplicate the plant’s natural growing conditions as much as possible.
There are over 50 orchid species, but this should be a careful and considerate process. If you can choose a variety that requires an environment you can maintain at home – that’s the suitable orchid for you.
In nature, orchids are epiphytes, which usually grow on other plants and objects. Most varieties of this cling to the barks of larger trees, stones, or moss found in forests. Even indoors, they don’t need a lot of soil to be replanted but can be potted and repotted in a container with an orchid potting mix – a mixture of soil, moss, cork, chunks of brick, and pieces of plant bark. A little bit of soil can be present in the potting mix, but there should ideally be a lot of breathing space for the roots.
Growing and Care Guide
Whether you’ve bought an orchid plant or grown one from an existing plant, it’s easy to take care of them at home. Under the right circumstances, orchid plants do not need a lot of maintenance but can live very long.
Pruning and Maintenance The concept of pruning is completely different from orchids. In any other case, plants are pruned so that new stems or blossoms can grow and the plant doesn’t waste its resources on the older blossoms. For this, stems are pruned away to be replanted as new plants to grow.
A very sharp tool must be used to prune orchids. A sharp and acute cut will keep the plant healthier for a long.
- Cultivators to Select
As the complete beginner, the easiest kind of cultivators to grow are known as Phalaenopsis or Moth Orchids. In almost every color imaginable, they are also one of the most popular varieties of orchids everywhere. These are miniature orchid plants and can fit anywhere inside the house. If only a few fundamental rules are followed, they are the easiest orchids to grow and don’t require much maintenance.
Another great cultivator is the Tropical Slipper Orchids, which are long-lasting plants and come in beautiful foliage. They have various colors and sizes to choose from and are one of the easiest to grow and propagate at home.
- Light Requirement
It depends on the variety, but most orchids require at least six hours of sunlight daily. They are best situated on a south or east-facing window of the house so that the sunlight isn’t strong enough to burn the leaves.
Other orchids are specifically medium- and low-light orchids. They cannot live long when directly exposed to sunlight for a long time.
The exposure to sunlight, as well as the duration of which they are being exposed, is extremely important because it decides whether the orchid plant will rebloom or not.
- Soil Requirement
Most orchids do not need a lot of soil to grow in. Therefore, only a small amount of soil is present in the unique orchid potting mix, which mostly contains moss, tree bark, lava rocks, stones, perlite, vermiculite, chunks of bricks, and corks. In addition, the potting soil mix should have excellent drainage so that the roots of the orchid plant can dry out completely between watering.
Most importantly, the potting soil mix should ideally have a good amount of chunky items such as rocks and tree barks so that the roots can have adequate breathing space.
- Water Requirement
Orchids need a lot of water, whether you’re keeping cut flowers in a vase or a plant in your room. However, the soil should be allowed to dry out slightly before watering again. The roots shouldn’t be kept moist or wet all the time; instead, because of the adequate breathing space, the roots of orchid plants can dry out properly with enough gap between watering.
In general, orchids should be watered once every week during winter and double that amount when the weather gets warmer and dryer.
- Temperature and Humidity
Depending on the variety, orchids can flourish between 75-to-85-degree Fahrenheit. In the case of humidity, the ideal range is 40 to 70 percent of humidity in the air.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Because they are rather delicate plants, many pests and diseases can be commonly seen in orchids. Pests like mites, aphids, whiteflies, and scale insects are common pests, and these plants are also usually affected by botrytis and powdery mildew.
The solutions vary depending on the pest or the disease, but common maintenance includes using water, rubbing alcohol, and neem oil to keep the plants clean.
Common Problems with Orchid Plants
These plants are easy enough to maintain, but they can sometimes face many problems. Fortunately, the problems with orchids can be easily identified and solved when you know what to do.
Drooping and Wrinkly Leaves
Some of the leaves of orchid plants can sometimes take a rather droopy and wrinkly look. The main reason behind this is a faulty watering problem. If the plant has been watered too frequently, the roots will always be wet, or if you had forgotten to water your plant and the roots have dried up, it would affect the leaves.
To determine the problem, you must first take the plant out of the pot and consider the roots. If the roots are mushy and brown, it means too much water; if the roots are shriveled up and grey, it means not enough water.
In both cases, soak the roots in warm water for about 10 minutes, and then remove the dead or soft decaying roots from the rest. Next, wash the roots under tepid water until it looks healthy again. Finally, before repotting, treat the roots of the orchid plant with some ground cinnamon or anti-fungal medicine.
Finally, if you’ve removed a good number of roots from the plant, take a pot that’s smaller in size for repotting using a high-quality orchid potting mix.
Orchid Buds Bursting
Orchid flowers bloom from the buds grown on each of the stems, but sometimes, the buds can become yellow and wilt up before blooming. This issue is primarily seen in Phalaenopsis orchids and other varieties.
There can be a few reasons behind this happening: an unwanted change in the environment, not enough watering or too much watering, poor drainage of the soil, exposure to hot or cold draft, or exposure to ethylene gas from fruits and vegetables, etc.
If these problems are taken care of, the buds will automatically stop shriveling and yellowing after a few days and start to bloom.
Yellowish Spots on Orchid Flowers
This problem is known as the Botrytis disease of orchids and is seen more in the varieties that bloom white, light yellow, or light green flowers. This happens mainly because of poor airflow in the area where the plant is kept or when the weather becomes consistently wet and humid.
Removing the plant to a more appropriate location can fix the problem, but the affected flowers should be removed before spreading the infection.
Spots on Leaves and Bud
If spots are seen on the leaves or the buds, the reason is usually due to the mishandling of the plants, bruising, or accidentally scratching them. This is not infectious and will not affect the whole plant if handled carefully.
However, if the spots keep growing in size or the leaves become soft and watery, it could be a fungal or bacterial infection. The plant should be separated from others, and the affected leaves should be cut off; sprinkling some medicine such as Phyton 27 or Thyomil can take care of the infection quickly.
Best Uses of Orchid Plants
Most orchids are gorgeous and affordable plants, and a single one can enhance the beauty of your home manifold. But, apart from that, there are some other unique uses of orchids that not many people know about.
- Orchids are known to purify the air of the rooms they are kept in by removing many harmful chemicals that can be found in the air.
- These plants are also known to help in stress relief.
- Some unique varieties of orchids give out a lovely, mesmerizing scent that can brighten up anyone’s mood.
- Kept in the bedroom, the fragrance from orchids is known to help everyone sleep better.
- According to Feng Shui, orchids are symbols of fertility, beauty, and purity. Even the different colors of orchids each represent something special such as prosperity, wealth, relationship, and marriage. Placing orchids of a specific color in your home is said to help you achieve that particular goal.
- Orchids are also known to increase productivity, which is why they are kept around the workplace.
- Keeping an orchid plant in a house can potentially raise the humidity to a healthy 30 to 50 percent, which is the optimum humidity level for any home.
- Orchids can be a thoughtful gift for a loved one.
Orchids might be popular because of their beauty, but they are also valuable plants around the house. Orchids are easy to maintain with just a few instructions, and they make lovely housewarming gifts or great decor items to keep around your house.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How do you take care of an orchid plant?
- Orchid plants are extremely easy to take care of. With the perfect location in the house, high-quality potting mix, and regular watering, orchids can flourish anywhere.
- Where is the best place to put my orchid plant?
- Orchids should be best placed on windowsills that get around 6 hours of sunlight daily, but not more than that. Any direct exposure to hot or cold drafts can damage the plant.
- Are orchids good indoor plants?
- Orchids are easy to maintain, and a single plant can increase the beauty of your house manifold. They are great indoor plants and beautiful gifts for a loved one.