Orchids or Orchidaceae( scientific term) are a diverse family of flowering plants. A symbol of virility in ancient Greece, orchids grow as medium-sized fragrant blooms in a bevy of colors- most commonly, pink, white and purple.
Orchids witness fruition in summer- with leaves starting to show once the weather turns warm. Flower buds start to appear in the autumnal months. The blooming season lasts throughout winter till spring.
Traditionally considered an outdoor plant, orchids are famous for their exotic beauty and the ability to flourish when left to nature’s devices.
However, they also make for excellent houseplants- and are among the most popular houseplants in countries with cool climes.
It does not exclude them from thriving in hotter regions, though. All one needs is a little human-made tweaking of the environment, and you will find that an orchid can grow pretty much anywhere in the world.
How long do Orchids last?
The lifespan of an orchid depends significantly on the type of plant in concern, the conditions it is supplanted in, and the administering it receives.
The flowers are known to last between two-three months, while they may bloom for longer in an ideal scenario. An annual occurrence, the flowers come back during the following season.
Orchids, of course, are more than just their flowers. It is a mistake to presume that an absence of flowers implies death or decay.
It merely indicates the plant’s rest cycle- a period of stagnancy where it prepares for the next blooming season.
The dormant season is as important as its blooming cycle- even if it happens to be much less appealing to watch. It works as a stimulant and rejuvenates the inner workings of the plant body.
Orchids, if tended to carefully, can live for decades. It is a question of the proper irrigation and sun, suitable manure, and regular trimming.
Ways to Keep Orchid Plants Healthy and Strong
Guaranteeing the right light
Orchids require bright but indirect light for optimum results. Exposure to direct sunlight during the afternoon has proven disastrous for many orchid owners- the delicate leaves tend to wilt and shrivel up.
Mobility is advisable. Early morning sun is considered the best kind of light for the plant to receive the daily quota without the rays being too harsh. If it is an indoor plant we are talking about, make sure to move to a shadier location post noon.
There are a few simple ways to make sure your plant is getting the right amount of sun. A noticeable discoloration/dehydration of leaves is an indicator that there is overexposure to light.
Make sure to keep the leaves from turning too red. It also effectively harms plant health and reduces the lifespan of the orchid. Very dark leaves symbolize that the plant is not getting enough sunlight.
The Right Temperature
Moisture conditions and temperature have a significant role to play in the healthy growth of an orchid. A window of between 67 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit is considered ideal. It is mildly warm, without being too hot.
Orchids are unsuited to extremities in temperature. Although they are known to thrive in cooler climes, snow or sleet proves fatal.
The same applies to indoor plants. Proximity to the refrigerator, or conversely, to the heater, is not advised.
It works as a drying agent- and saps the surrounding air of moisture. It, in turn, affects plant health by drying out leaves and preventing osmosis.
Orchid growers are always very insistent about the importance of keeping the plant away from windows. Window panes heat up ( and cool down) quickly. The resulting chill/heat causes the leaves to wilt.
Water does matter. It is hardly a surprise, though- we all know that plants need water for growth. What is noteworthy, though, is the amount and the implementation.
Overwatering is a cause for concern with orchids. They are not plants that you need to water daily, regardless of how moisture-less the weather conditions might be. Gardeners recommend a weekly cycle.
Water the leaves first, taking care to ensure that the water reaches all areas. It is ill-advised to use a quick spray of water. Orchid plants have delicate leaves that rupture easily under pressure.
Remember to keep the crown of the plant dry. Prolonged wetness causes the crown to rot, which is likely to prove fatal for the plant. It happens quicker than one would think possible and calls for constant vigilance.
Drainage is important, too. A tendency for water retention causes flooding, bug infestations, and slow rotting. Watering is advisable during the day to aid quick drying.
Note: The water should be room temperature or mildly warm for the best results.
Regular, Strategic Manicuring
Orchid enthusiasts swear by the importance of strategic trims. A well-known postulate in gardening plants needs to be relieved of dead weight for further growth. The same applies to orchid plants, where timely action is known to deliver satisfactory results.
There are a couple of ways to choose from.
The first involves cutting the entire branch down to the leaf, which leads to a more potent progeny in the following season.
The second method features cutting below the lowest dead flower, at the first node going up. It means that one does not have to wait a year for new flowers. The waiting period is between 8 and 12 weeks.
The first is preferred when the quality of the flowers is at stake, while the second method is better suited to a time constraint.
Why Bark Chips might prove more effective than soil?
Now, this is one method that can be rather tedious but guarantees fantastic results.
Soil, even though commonly used for flowering plants such as orchids, might be an option you might consider leaving out this time around. Opt instead for loose bark- powdery material that comes from the disintegration of bark chips.
Bark chips are of the right texture and induce optimal growth while also providing a suitable drainage structure. The plant would require repotting once the bark dust starts to decay. It can take between one and three years.
You repot the plant once the blooming season reaches its natural conclusion. If carried out when the flowers are still in bloom, repotting can cause specific imbalances that you should avoid.
Fertilization is essential to induce healthy reblooming in an orchid plant.
Use a balanced homemade fertilizer with a 20-20-20 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You should mix the fertilizer with an equal amount of room-temperature water.
Pour the fertilizing solution into the soil, taking care to avoid the leaves.
Drain any excess solution. The water component in the solution is adequate for providing moisture to the plant. Too much manure is unnecessary, and you can safely repeat this method once or twice a month.
The dormant phase of an orchid’s life cycle might sometimes call for more fertilization frequency.
A well-known method for promoting healthy root growth is ice watering- which entails putting in a couple of ice cubes in the soil once a week. It regulates water flow to the root while avoiding the possibility of flooding or water damage.
Orchids, just like any other plant, require love and care. It is always wise to read up on the matter before you make a purchase.
The setting is crucial, especially in conditions where you have the opportunity to manufacture a conducive environment.
Enlist the help of the guidelines given above, and make sure you create an environment where the plant can thrive.
Orchids are intelligent investments and, contrary to popular belief, are not much work. It is only a matter of putting in the right effort and patience. If you have both, you can grow your very own orchid garden!