SO Gardening — May 6

Dear Orchid DOC

With Betty Ashley

Sunday, May 06, 2018

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Dear Orchid Doc:

What's the best orchid for beginners?

Beginner

Dear Beginner:

It's generally agreed that the best orchid for beginners is the phalaenopsis, or “moth” orchid. These plants are resilient against beginner's mistakes and have a short time to blossom. Nevertheless, they produce brilliant blossoms that you'll love.

They're also quite abundant and inexpensive, so you could even buy several in case you accidentally kill one of them (which does sometimes happen, sad to say). In general, they're just a great plant to use to learn about how to grow orchids!

Dear Orchid Doc:

I am growing my phalaenopsis orchid in the house but they never bloom. What can I do?

Don

Dear Don:

The most common reason for any orchid not to bloom is insufficient light. Move your phalaenopsis plants to a window where they will receive strong, but indirect light (near a south-facing window is ideal). You might also try lighting your plants with a fluorescent light fixture placed about 1-2 feet above the foliage. Give them up to 12 hours of supplemental light per day. Phalaenopsis will also develop flower spikes in response to a cool period of about four weeks with night temperatures of 55F. After the cool treatment, raise the night temperature back to the normal 60-65F minimum. See if these changes to your growing conditions help to stimulate your plants to bloom.

Dear Orchid Doc:

How do I know if my orchid is getting the proper amount of light?

Dear Kay:

One good indicator is leaf colour. Generally speaking, the leaves should be bright green rather than dark green. Dark green indicates too little light while reddish green indicates too much light. Those orchids requiring higher light intensities, such as cattleyas, dendrobiums and oncidiums, should be placed in a south-or west-facing window, but be sure to protect the leaves from the hot midday sun with sheer curtains or move the plants back from the window on hot summer days.

Miltonias, phalaenopsis and paphiopedilums prefer lower light intensities and should be located further away from the window or placed in a window facing east or north.

Kay

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