Thursday, March 8, 2012

Orchids 101

Jim got me an orchid for our 2nd wedding anniversary. It was our second attempt to have this beautiful, majestic flower in our home. Even with all our love and devotion for nature the first one didn't fair very well and ended up in orchid heaven. When this one dropped all its flowers last year, we feared it was heading to its death bed. But the leaves stayed green at the bottom, so we knew there was hope.

We did a little research and came up with a better plan of care in hopes of helping it live long enough to bloom again. It really seemed doubtful for quite a long while. Until the morning of February 22 when the first new bud suddenly opened up and flowered. The same bright sunny day our beautiful little Riesling made her way until the world. Happy Birth Day Riese!

So what did we learn about caring for orchids?

Soil. Orchids need to be potting in a 'soil' mixture that allows for proper drainage but helps the roots retains moisture. In other words, not just potting soil that you would use with other house plants. We used a special orchid mixture that we purchased at Home Depot. You can also make your own mixture.

Watering. Watering too much or too often will kill the roots. And obviously underwatering is not the way to go either. We put a ice cube in the pot whenever it feels dry. Probably every 5-10 depending on the season (more often in the summer, less in the winter).

Sunlight. We had trouble with this one. You don't really want the plant in intense direct sunlight but it's not going to flourish hiding in the back corner of your living room either. The leaves should be a bright green color, a good indicator for whether or not your orchid is getting proper sunlight. Dark green leaves mean too little light while a reddish coloring indicates too much light. We had to move ours around a dozen times and before we found the right spot in our bay window.

Fertilizer. We realized that we were probably starving our orchid to death and it had no extra energy for producing flowers. So, we starting fertilizing it with special orchid food once per month. Over feeding will burn the roots so follow the instructions of the fertilizer you purchase.

So those are the basics. There are of course other things like disease, pests, etc that can affect orchids but thankfully none we've had to deal with and hopefully won't in the future. I just really love the simplicity and beauty of the orchid and think everyone should have an one to brighten up the home. A perfect gift for any of the upcoming spring holidays (Easter, Mother's Day, etc) I would highly recommend a lovely orchid. Just be sure to include a list of care instructions.

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