Getting started with orchid care for beginners, orchid vocabulary, what to use for potting your orchids, temperature, light and watering.
Favorite beginner orchids you can grow are cattleya, cymbidium, lady slippers, phalaenopsis and oncidiums.
Orchids are very popular. There are more types of orchids, Orchidaceae than any other types of plants in the world.
There are some common terms people use when they are talking about orchids.
They live in trees in tropical or subtropical areas of the world. They get quite a bit of light high up in the trees.
They get their water from rain or dew. Their nutrients come from whatever debris they can catch in their roots.
The pseudobulb store extra water and nutrients for the orchid. So when there is a lack of rain they draw moisture from their pseudobulbs.
The pseudobulbs generally are green or they may be brown. Normally they have a leaf growing out of the top. Or the pseudobulbs may grow beside the leaves.
Generally they grow under trees, but sometimes in meadows. They have constant food and moisture from their environment.
You may hear someone talking about an orchid's lip. The center flower petal is called the 'lip'. Many times the lip is larger and/or brightly colors with decorations on it.
The lip on lady slipper orchids is enclosed into a pouch, a slipper you could imagine putting your foot into.
The large garden centers make orchid care for beginners easy. They have orchid bark for sale. Bark allows the epiphytic roots to get the air like they would get on tree trunks. Use the medium size bark for any pots 4" and over, use small bark for the smaller sizes.
Terrestrial orchids are potted in a fine bark. Often with the addition of perlite, sand or moss to help maintain moisture. New Zealand sphagnum moss is an excellent potting medium for terrestrials.
Orchids are generally watered once a week. Water when the pot feels much lighter than it was 10 to 15 minutes after you watered it the last time.
Cattleya orchids are probably the best know orchid in the United
States because the florist industry used them for beautiful corsages.
The flowers are large and showy coming in purple, lavender, yellow, orange, white and bi-colors.
There are many different varieties of cattleyas and inter-generic crosses.
The plants may range in size from a few inches to two feet.
Cattleyas grow best in a warm, humid greenhouse, but can be grown in the house. They like warm temperatures, no cooler than 55 to 60 degrees at night and 65 to 70 during the day.
When they are getting enough light, their leaves should be light green. If the leaves are dark green and the new growths are soft, they need more light.
There are two variations of the paphs. The green-leaf varieties can take nights down to 40 degrees and the mottled-leaf varieties like it warmer 60 to 65 at night, 70 to 85 degrees in the day.
These two types of lady slippers usually produce one flower on a stem that rises above the foliage. There are many hybrids with some amazing flowers that will grow well in the home. The flowers last a couple of months, if they stay fairly cool.
They do not transplant well from the wild. It is best to leave them growing naturally. We can enjoy them in their native environment.
Oncidium orchids are sometimes called Dancing Ladies because their lip flares out like the skirt of a dancing lady. They grow multiple, branched flower stems that flutter and dance in the breeze. They give a nice flower display for several months.
They are an epiphyte growing on trees in central and South America. They like warm, daytime temperatures 70 to 85 and 60 to 65 at night.
This type of oncidium requires a bit more light than the popular Moth Orchid, phalaenopsis. It may be grown in east windows or a west window behind a sheer curtain when the sun is shining directly through the window.
They must dry out between waterings. The leaves should be a light green. Dark green leaves are an indication of not enough light. They will not bloom unless they receive adequate light.
A very nice oncidium hybrid for the home is the oncidium "Sharry Baby". It has brick-red and cream colored flowers. A mature plant always blooms with multiple stems of fragrant flowers. The fragrance reminds people of chocolate, quite nice. It is considered an easy orchid for the home.
They are semi-ephiphytic grown in large bark. They have grass-like leaves and grow a long arching stem full of flowers, 4 1/2 to 5 inches in white, pink, yellow, green or bronze, often with red or darker colors in their throat.
They like about 50 percent shade. They do need light to flower well. If the leaves are quite green, give them more light for the best flowering.
They bloom from February to early May. They make good cut flowers that many florists now use for corsages.
Fertilize every two weeks from January to July, then less until the end of August.
Both of my lessons of orchid care for beginners were about Watering Orchids.
The correct amount of water is better. That's good orchid care for beginners.
Orchids can't live or function without water. They need water to carry their nutrients around in the plant. They also use water to hold themselves upright.
Phals, phalaenopsis are wildly popular today. And with good reason, they like the same conditions most of us keep in our homes. They make orchid care for beginners very easy.
Their roots can hold a minimal amount of extra water, but not much. This is our clue on how to take care of them.
You now have a foundation for growing some of the world's most amazing plants.
All you have to do is ask yourself, is your orchid is an epiphyte or a terrestrial. Then you confidently know the general care for any type of orchid.