How to Care for your Orchid
Thanks to the wide variety of climates, environments, flora and fauna across the continent of Asia, many different kinds of orchids are cultivated throughout countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. In China, orchids carry cultural significance in several contexts – you can find orchids in artworks, traditional Chinese medicine, and many a courtyard garden. As far back as the time of Confucius, orchids have been special. Confucius himself held a particular appreciation for this beautiful bloom, considering it a flower of noble character, having written that “orchids grow in the woods and they let out their fragrance even if there is no one around to appreciate it. Likewise, men of noble character will not let poverty deter their will to be guided by high principles and morals.” So, when admiring the beauty of an orchid, remember the nobleness and tenacity of character that it represents.
Happily, you can also keep your own orchid in the home to symbolize the beauty of good character. In fact, orchid care is surprisingly easy, although how to care for your orchid varies according to the strain. For example, although the orchid generally grows in wetter, more tropical climates, potted orchids grown in the home only need to be watered once every 5 to 12 days. Generally, orchids need more water in the long days of summer than in the shorter days of winter, but more specifically, orchid varieties paphiopedilum, miltonia, cymbidium, and odontoglossum should be kept in evenly moist soil at all times, orchid varieties cattleya, oncidium, brassia, and dendrobium should be kept in evenly moist soil only while actively growing, and orchid varieties phalaenopsis, vanda, and ascocenda should be grown in nearly dry soil between waterings. So, the key to proper orchid tending is merely a matter of choosing your preferred variety and tending to that strain’s particular needs.
Perhaps the easiest orchid variety to keep in the home is the dendrobium. During fall and winter, these beautiful orchids produce long, graceful blossoms that are usually white, lavender, or a combination of both. The blossoms will remain open for about three to four weeks. To water your dendrobium, remove the inner pot from the decorative one, and then place in the sink or bathtub to water (add “orchid food” to your watering can – easily available at home and garden stores). Wait for the water to drain before placing the plant back in the decorative pot, as allowing your plant to sit in the water could kill it. Make sure to also feed your orchid with new fertilizer monthly – look for fertilizers that contain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and trace iron. As your orchid grows, make sure to repot as needed, and make sure your pot of choice allows for good drainage. During the winter, make sure the temperature doesn’t drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and allow proper air circulation in the room.
No matter the variety of orchid you choose, there are myriad sources available to consult as they grow. Check out the following websites and videos for more orchid tending tips and tricks:
Want to grow your own orchids? Here’s a book “Growing Orchids from Seed” by Philip Seaton
Get your own seeds here: Orchid Yellow Begonia Flower Seeds 50 Stratisfied Seeds with Instructions