Orchids are both fascinating and plentiful. But with the large variety of orchids that there are, there is also a lot of information to know. Here is just some of what you should know about the orchid species.
Pests and Diseases
Orchids will have few insect pests or diseases if properly cared for. It is crucial, though, to have a problem identified before attempting to control it. You can take a sample to your county extension agent and follow recommended treatments suggested. In addition there are many disease prevention tips that are provided in an orchid disease guide published by the American Orchid Society.
If you have only a few plants in your house, wiping the leaves with a warm, soapy, wet cloth will be sufficient to eradicate insects like mealy bugs. Use caution with insecticides because many can damage your orchids. Be sure and read the label to see if the pesticide can be safely used on orchids specifically.
Orchids grow slowly when compared to houseplants. Do be forewarned that most orchids need to be repotted about once every two years. When you go to pot an orchid, the pot is filled about two-thirds with orchid potting medium, then the plant is set in the pot with its roots spread out. Be sure that the growing tip is either centered or placed at least two fingers from the pot rim. Then additional growing media is packed tightly around the plant to hold it in place. If you have potted the orchid correctly, you should be able to turn the pot upside down without the orchid or medium falling out. When the orchid plant outgrows the pot by extending the new shoots over the edge, (usually about every two years), it is time to repot.
Best Orchids for Hobby Growers
One of the most common and frequently asked questions from the hobby grower is, “What type of orchid should I grow?” Usually when you mention orchids most people immediately think of the purple-flowered Cattleyas as they have long been the most popular in the trade. However, the genus Cattleya contains a mere 50 species of the 28,000 known, so it is possible to consider many other types of orchids that also do wonderfully in the home.
Hobby growers should also try growing hybrids of Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium, Oncidium, Vanda and Epidendrum. The Phalaenopsis orchid is excellent for beginners. This type of orchid may produce up to 15 or more flowers per spike. The flowers from this orchid can measure up to four inches across. One of the other bonuses of growing a Phalaenopsis orchid is that the flowers may remain open for six weeks or longer and frequently when a spike is cut, a secondary spike will develop on the old stalk below the original flower head, thus extending the blooming season. Overall, the Phalaenopsis plants are very easy to grow.
Dendrobium orchids are some of the better corsage type orchids. They produce lavender or white flowers that are borne in profusion on a well-grown plant and are long lasting. They are also a prolific group, in that offset plantlets are frequently produced on the cane. When each offset has produced several aerial roots, it can then be cut from the parent plant and will frequently flower after only one year of growth.
Oncidiums are the orchid that is commonly referred to as dancing girls, and they are also easy to grow. These orchids produce dainty yellow and brown or white and brown flowers that are suitable if used alone or in combination with other orchids. The large flowered Oncidium with their yellow and brown color combination can be made into a lovely corsage. These hardy plants grow and flower well even under adverse growing conditions.
Vandas are becoming increasingly popular among orchid growers. They produce a wide range of colors which includes some fairly good blues and browns, and the long lived flowers have added greatly to their popularity. Vandas can grow to be very large plants, sometimes even 10 to 12 feet high, but they grow very slowly.
One of the toughest orchids is the Epidendrums. Epidendrum hybrids are becoming popular plants largely in part to their durability. These are one of the easiest orchids to grow and one of the most prolific groups. These tall, thin, reed-like growths constantly put forth new plantlets. Although the flowers are small, about one inch in size, they are produced in great profusion.