Orchid Plants are one of the largest plant species in the world with over 20,000 different varieties. Orchid Plants are long-lived, and, with proper care, bloom again and again for many years. The flowers of an Orchid Plant may be yellow, white, pink, lavender, spotted, or stripped. Orchid Plants are a beautiful inexpensive replacement for a cut flower arrangement, or just an added delight for any room in your home or office. The Phalaenopsis, or Moth Orchid, is one of the best and most easily available Orchid varieties. The flowers of a Phalaenopsis open off a long arching spike and often last 2-3 months.
LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS: There is an Orchid Plant to suit almost any lighting condition, but none like being in the direct sun. If an area is too dark, the leaves of an Orchid Plant turn dark green instead of the grassy yellow green they should be and the Orchid plant doesn't bloom. If there is too much light, the leaves of an Orchid Plant turn yellow and develop sunspots. A location near an east or west facing window is usually best location for a Phaleonopsis Orchid. Most Orchid Plants prefer about 10 hours of light a day.
CARE INSTRUCTIONS WATER: The easiest way to kill any Orchid Plant is by over-watering. Always allow the top 50% of the potting compost to dry out before watering. Check the roots of an Orchid Plant monthly to be sure they are staying whitish green and plump. Never allow an Orchid Plant to sit in water and keep water off of the flowers. Never use water from a softener on an Orchid Plant. Soil, temperature, time of year, humidity, and pot size all influence an Orchid Plant's watering needs. Orchid Plants dry out a little faster in the winter because of the heat in your home and low humidity.
FERTILIZER: Fertilize every two weeks while an Orchid Plant is actively growing. No not feed an Orchid Plant when it is dormant or when the plant is in bloom. There are excellent Orchid Plant foods on the market. You can also use a well- balanced houseplant food at 1/2 the recommended strength to fertilize Orchid Plants.
TEMPERATURE: Orchid Plants do well when the temperature is 65-80 degrees during the day and 15 degrees cooler at night. In the fall, the cool night temperatures help the flower spikes of an Orchid Plant develop. Once the Orchid buds appear, try to keep the temperature constant or the buds may fall off.
HUMIDITY: High humidity, 50% or better, is essential for an Orchid Plant. Setting an Orchid Plant in a stand and placing the stand in a tray filled with pebbles and water helps to increase the humidity. Be sure the Orchid Plant container never sits directly in the water.
FLOWERING: Orchid Plants usually flower from December-May. The flowers on an Orchid Plant often last several months. The spectacular flowers of an Orchid Plant can be as small as 1" or as large as 5" depending upon the variety. Try not to get water on the flowers.
PESTS: Orchid Plants are prone to Aphids, mealybugs, scale, and spider mites. A good way to prevent insect infestations and diseases is to place an Orchid Plant where it gets a breeze or is near a small fan. The slight breeze also encourages blooms to develop faster on an Orchid Plant. The best ways to treat any insects or pest s that you find on your Orchid Plant is to dab them off with a Qtip dipped in alcohol or wipe them off with a soft cloth dipped in soapy water.
DISEASES: Orchid Plant are prone to viruses, bacterial infections, and fungal infections. Increasing the air circulation around an Orchid Plant, as we discussed in the Pest Section is very beneficial in preventing Orchid Plant diseases.
SOIL: Orchid Plants require a special soil and should never be planted in regular potting soil. Use a bark-based or peat based soil that retains water but still drains well for all of your Orchid Plants. Orchid Plant soil should contain bark, sphagnum moss, and perlite. There are several commercial soils that are specifically for Orchid Plants.