Page 156 - 2017-greengate-Gardensense-magazine
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orchids
Grown for their beautiful and long lasting flowers, orchids have long been considered the domain of the expert gardener. This, however, is not necessarily the case. There are many varieties of these exotic plants that can be grown quite easily at home, given the right conditions. Usually they need no more care than you would give an ordinary house plant, although there are exceptions.
There are two main types of orchids, epiphytic and terrestrial. Epiphytic orchids are the type grown most often as a houseplant; they grow naturally in trees and on rocks. In addition to having roots at the base, epiphytic orchids have aerial roots and require a special orchid container for proper growing conditions. Terrestrial orchids have their roots wholly underground and are less common as houseplants.
When selecting an orchid there are a few factors that you should consider. First you should decide what variety of orchid you prefer. There are many flower shapes, sizes and colours. Many people also consider when the flowering period occurs when selecting a variety, often for certain events or holidays. The second consideration is the area in which you would like the orchid to grow. Light, temperature and air circulation are all-important factors to consider. Lastly, what level of care do you want to provide? Orchid care ranges from simple and undemanding to complicated and finicky. greengate has a superior selection of orchids and our experienced staff can help you with plant selection, requirements, fertilization or even a pot.
Light
Orchids are tropical plants, so there is no way our climate can match the amount of sunlight available to orchids in their natural setting. Orchids, like most other living things, however, can adapt. Some orchids need the maximum amount of sunlight available. This may involve changing locations at various times of the year for maximum light. Artificial lighting may be added during winter months if necessary.
Temperature
There are three basic temperature groups, warm 18-24 degrees Celsius, intermediate 16-18 degrees Celsius, and cool 10-16 degrees Celsius. These are nighttime temperatures and daytime temperatures are generally about 10 degrees higher. Select an orchid that fits best into the category that your home falls into.
Air circulation
Air circulation is very important for orchid growth. In their natural home they are exposed to the winds. If there is a lack of air movement the plants do not do as well as if the air is circulating. Near a window or door, or in a safe but a high traffic area in your house is ideal.
Soil
Normal potting soil is not suitable for orchids. With air circulation being so important, orchid bark mixtures contain large particles that allow greater air circulation to the roots than would be possible with potting soil.
Watering
The amount of water an orchid needs will depend on its variety; some require much more water than others. Orchids should be watered when they are almost dry. Water well, so that the potting mixture is saturated. A good way to test the dryness of a plant is by weight. Test the weight before and after watering and by feel you should be able to estimate when the plant will again need water.
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