Doug Hackbarth - Broadview Florist & GreenhousesOrchids make an easy and popular blooming houseplant as they take very little care and really thrive under normal household conditions. The only condition that needs to be increased is the humidity levels, as orchids not only need plenty of heat but also high humidity-this can be accomplished by simply placing saucers filled with a thin layer of pebbles and water (keeping the water below the pebbles) and creating an area of higher humidity.

There are over 25,000 different kinds of wild orchids from extremely warm climates to bitterly cold areas. The two types that are generally available around here are those from Central and South America, and Southeast Asia known as either terrestrial (ones that require soil and nutrients) and epiphytes (those that grow on tree branches and decaying plant matter).

When you purchase the epiphytes type, they are usually planted in orchid soil, which is basically a mixture of coarse bark. Do not plant epiphytes orchids in soil. The most well-known orchids include cymbidium, cattleya, oncidium, phalaenopsis and dendrobium orchids, most of which like it warm.

Phalaenopsis orchids, also known as moth orchids generally bloom January-March and are offered at many of your favorite stores. The blooms come on every 2-3 days and can last as long as 3 months each. House temperatures are perfect, anything between 55 and 85 degrees will work. A cool nighttime temperature helps to initiate flower spikes.

Water your orchids thoroughly, then allow them to get somewhat dry between waterings. The use of bark-type orchid potting mix helps to keep your orchids at the correct moisture level. “Just Add Ice” is the advertised way to water as opposed to the traditional methods. This ice method works for me, just add the ice every 4 or 5 days and only about 3 cubes.

Misting can shorten the life of your blossoms and be the cause of spotting.

Fertilizing is done much the same as with other plants. Either use a General Purpose fertilizer or one labeled for orchids and apply every-other week during spring, summer and fall, but only monthly during the winter. And it’s a good practice to not fertilize at all while its in bloom.

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