This is another post featuring photos from the Orchid House at Longwood Gardens. See here and here for other posts. For those of you who want to grow orchids at home, we have excerpted advice from the Longwood Gardens website on caring for orchids:
To keep your orchids healthy and blooming, here is some advice from Marie Viallet, President of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society and a seasonal employee in Longwood’s Horticulture Department:
• Know your plant.Orchids are found from the Arctic Circle to the Andes and have different requirements for temperature, light, and dormancy. Be aware of your plant’s origins and tailor its care accordingly.
• Don’t overwater! This is the number one cause of orchid death. Check the dryness by feeling the weight of the pot (should be light) or by sticking your finger in the soil. When in doubt, hold off watering.
• Keep it light. Natural sunlight from east, south, or west windows is best, supplemented by fluorescent light if necessary. Be careful with direct light—plants can get scorched when the sun is too intense.
• Humidify the roots. Some roots will stick out of the pots. Humidity trays (with rocks and water) can keep them moist, as can misting. Don’t mist the leaves, though, or fungus spots can result.
• No drafts, please!
• Repot every 1-2 years right after blooming. Use a mix of fir bark, charcoal, and/or perlite in a pot that can accommodate the root ball plus one inch all around. Shake off the old mix, prune away mushy dead roots, and place in the next pot. Pack orchid mix firmly around and between roots.
“Most orchids are on a year cycle,” explains Viallet. “Some stay in bloom only for a few days, others for much longer. The phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, can bloom for four to five months.”
To encourage your phalaenopsis to rebloom, it helps to expose it to warmer daytime temperatures and cooler nighttime air. Viallet recommends putting the plant outdoors in August and September to take advantage of the natural temperature gradient.
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