Pretty In Pink

radiant orchidDid you hear that the colour for 2014 is Radiant Orchid? When I heard it I originally laughed, thinking how are the interior designers going to convince us that we could use that colour in our kitchens or living rooms? But with my recent office renovation and my very grey room, I have found that some small touches of the colour of the year, Radiant Orchid, might just be what I am looking for.

And believe it or not that whole process got me thinking about orchids. I have always wanted to own one but I just didn’t think I had the right spot for one. February and March are their main bloom times and I am sure all of us could use this tropical flower to brighten our month! And with Valentine’s Day coming up this might be a nice change from the usual cut flowers!

Two of the most common types of orchids are Phalaenopsis and Dendrobium.

Orchid phalaenopsis
Orchid phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis orchids are one of the easiest orchids to grow. Their long sprays of flowers stay blooming for months and they come in a variety of interesting colours. They are low light orchids that would grow well in an east window. Or it can grow in a south or west window if protected by a sheer curtain. The great thing about it is that once it is in bloom you can place it anywhere in the house out of direct sunlight. And once the plant has finished blooming your can move it back to increase the amount of light it receives. You can gage if the plant is getting the correct amount of light based on its leaves. Phalaenopsis orchid leaves should be olive green in colour. If they are darker green then the plant is not getting enough light or if they are developing red edges then the orchid is getting too much light.

As for watering a Phalaenopsis, it depends on what it is potted in when it came from the store.  For the most part this variety should dry out between waterings. If it is potted in bark, then water once a week. If potted in moss, water when the top is dry. Either way be sure to let the water drain completely as sitting in water is a sure way to kill your orchid.

Fertilizing is also important for orchids but still doesn’t require a ton of work on our part. More specific instructions will come with your orchid when you purchase it so make sure the instructions are attached. Generally the orchids need to be fed after watering, once a month.

Orchid dendrobium
Orchid dendrobium

Dendrobium orchids are another easy type of orchid to grow, smaller flowers than the Phalaenopsis and available in sprays of white, lavender or a combination of the two. They bloom during the fall and winter and the flowers remain open for about 3 to 4 weeks. Dendrobiums need a lot of light, still not direct sun.  A lightly shaded south window is best. They also like a warmer environment and grow best when the daytime temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees F and between 55 and 60 degrees F at night. Please note that temperatures near the windows will be different than the rest of the house.

As for watering and fertilizing Dendrobiums, you can keep them moist during active growth and then let them dry out between waterings while they are flowering. When they are not flowering is when they need fertilizing. You can do it at the same time as watering since they appreciate a weak fertilizing of orchid fertilizer 20-20-20 (1/4 strength) weekly.

Both types of orchids appreciate humidity and this can easily be achieved by placing the pot on a tray of pebbles filled with water.

When either variety of your orchid has finished flowering you can cut the flowering stem here:

cutting orchids
cutting orchids

Do not cut or damage the leaves as the new stem will come from here in about a year. If you are feeling adventurous, you can cut the Phalaenopsis in such a way that it will rebloom in about 12 weeks.

Watch video here:

Note: I don’t think we have to worry about a fungicide in our homes with only one orchid; he is using it in this video because his orchid will be going back into a greenhouse.

cut orchidI had no idea this was possible and I think that has helped me decide which variety I am going to try. Both varieties of orchids are also sold as cut flowers and can last several weeks in a vase of water.

All in all I feel this beautiful plant is less mysterious than I thought and easier to grow as well. I am looking forward to picking one up for my east facing office. One other note, I do recommend buying them from a reputable flower shop since you know they were cared for before you bring it home. I know you see racks of Orchid displays at big box stores but you never know how long they have been there or how they have been cared for and the last thing you need to do is bring an insect or fungus into your home…I know, I have done it.

Credits: American Orchid Society and wikiHow 

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