Orchids have a reputation for being finicky and high maintenance, but this is largely due to a misunderstanding on how to care for them. This reputation keeps many from bringing orchids into their homes. Which is a shame because orchids are stunning flowers that can be used to bring color and elegance to your decor. If you want to learn how to successfully care for these living jewels, keep reading.
The Orchidaceae family is home to over 28,000 flower varieties. But most of us are only family with the most common ones. What are the most common types of orchids?
Phalaenopsis: This orchid is probably the one that you think of first. Also often referred to as moth orchids, these can be readily found in grocery stores. Generally, the care for these orchids is low maintenance and they tend to be quite forgiving.
Cattleya: This orchid is a fan favorite for those who love a fragrant flower. Due to their vibrant and fragrant flowers, you may be most familiar with their usage in corsages.
Cymbidium: This is another easy care variety. These orchids bloom with multiple spikes at once and produce daintier flower clusters, making for a full, yet delicate display.
Vanda: These orchids are known for their persistent flowers. You can look forward to multiple flowering seasons each year. Many people grow these orchids in special hanging baskets known as vanda baskets. This allows for their impressive succulent roots to cascade down through the basket.
Paphiopedilum: Also known commonly as lady’s slipper orchids, these are terrestrial varieties. Their leaves boast an intricate network of patterns that make growing this orchid visually stunning even when it is not in bloom. When in bloom, they produce a single large flower, making this orchid a showpiece.
A key to succeeding in orchid care is to understand where your orchid is from and where it grows. Most of the common varieties discussed above are epiphytic plants, which means that they grow onto trees. For epiphytes, your potting soil should have a lot of chunky elements, like bark and charcoal. This will allow water to flow freely over the roots similarly to how these orchids would gain their water in nature.
Terrestrial orchids like paphiopedilums are commonly seen growing in swamp-like conditions and along riverbeds. These orchids will want to hold onto water a bit more than the epiphytic varieties. So potting mix for these should include things like sphagnum moss, lava rock, and coconut coir.
Light is important for any plant, but even more so when talking about flowers. Although orchids don't generally appreciate intense direct light, they tend to thrive when exposed to bright, indirect light. A good starting place for your orchids is in a bright window but behind sheer curtains.
As far as watering goes, overwatering is the most common cause for the decline in the health of orchids. So, it is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to watering. Get familiar with how the pot feels after it is freshly watered vs when it is dry. Wait until the pot feels light to water again.
Once you have an understanding of the soil, water, and light that your orchid wants, you can confidently care for it. Don’t let fear hold you back from introducing these dazzling flowers into your home. You may be surprised by just how easy they are to care for.
By Ripple Creek Homes 2-23-2022