Orchids have long been valued for their exotic, delicate beauty and today an orchid represents love, luxury and strength. There are over 25,000 recognized species of this unique plant and many more hybrids that have been developed.
While the history of the orchid in the Western world is relatively new – only 200 years or so, orchids have populated the earth in various climates for many more. The first orchids were available only to those of means, which added to their air of luxury. As their popularity grew and the care and propagation of orchids became better understood, orchids became more widely available.
This is good news for orchid lovers today – and especially for orchid lovers in the Raleigh area. “Everyone should have an orchid in their home or office,” says Millie Lee, avid orchid grower and owner of Atlantic Avenue Orchid and Garden. After years of growing roses, she turned her attention to orchids and is now a leading expert in orchid care.
One of the most popular and easiest orchids to care for is the moth orchid (Phalaenopsis). Among the most recognizable, these have blooms that last up to three months, providing beautiful arrangements at an affordable investment. The flowering intervals vary with each plant, but you might be treated to a bloom as often as twice a year.
Moth orchids enjoy the same temperature range as most people – between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Orchids need bright indirect light in order for the buds to open. A blooming orchid will be fine in an interior room with artificial light, however immature buds may not open.
Water the orchid when it is nearly dry. This may take a week to 10 days or longer depending on the potting medium, temperature, and light conditions in your home or office. Most orchids need cool nights and warm days to force a new bloom spike. Place your plant where it can receive a 20-degree temperature change of between 55 to 75-degrees Fahrenheit for four weeks.
Millie recommends using one of these two methods for watering your orchid.
Method 1: Immerse the pot in a container of lukewarm water just to the rim of the pot for 10 seconds. Remove the pot and let drain.
Method 2: Run a little lukewarm water around the plant being careful not to get water on the leaves and in the crown of the plant where the leaves come together. This can lead to crown rot in an orchid.
Orchids should be fertilized once a month when not in bloom, with fertilizer formulated specifically for orchids. Orchids should be repotted when there are more roots growing outside the pot than are growing inside the pot.
It is also important to remember some things orchids do not like:
• Wet leaves
• Cold drafts
• Placement near a heat source
• Strong sunlight
• Dry stuffy air
Joy Watson is the marketing director for Atlantic Avenue Orchid and Garden. She is also a freelance writer and loves to write about gardening and pets. She lives in Clayton, NC with her dog Jake.