Monday, January 10, 2011

Growing orchids isn't so difficult

By David Burton
University Extension

What comes to mind when you think of an orchid? Probably phrases like exotic and beautiful, wonderful color, great fragrance and unusual growth habits.

“Orchids really are wonderful and unusual but, contrary to popular believe, they are not difficult to care for if you choose the right orchid,” said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Many of the popular orchids are epiphytic, which means they grow in nature on the branches and trunks of trees. Epiphytic orchids have special roots that are able to take up water and nutrients when exposed to the air.

Keep that in mind as you match orchids to your home. And also remember that light, temperature and humidity are keys for orchids.

“I recommend that beginners start with easy to grow orchids like Phalanopis, Cattleya or Dendrobium,” said Byers.

Pots with orchids need to be well drained. The growing medium should include chopped fir bark, lava rocks, rock wool and bark mixtures.

“Don’t overwater,” said Byers. “Once a week for large orchids or twice a week for small orchids and don’t let water set in the saucers.”

It will also be necessary to fertilize with a diluted solution and repot orchids only when necessary.

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