The types of orchids that we grow in our greenhouses, conservatories or in the home would naturally grow in rainforests all over the world. We try to recreate these conditions to get the best from our plants and this can be easier than you think!
Orchids do not like bright, direct sun especially in summer as their leaves can burn so keep them in dappled shade except in winter when the sun is not so strong. Good light helps to encourage re-flowering.
Orchids usually fall into 1 of 3 categories - cool, intermediate or warm - here is a guide to the temperatures :
Cool : winter minimum 10°C (50°F) summer maximum 22°C (75°F)
Intermediate : winter minimum 12°C (55°F) summer maximum 25°C (80°F)
Warm : winter minimum 18°C (65°F) summer maximum 27°C (85°F)
We work to the winter minimum night temperatures as these are more vital but it is natural for there to be a rise and fall between day and night and between the seasons. The temperature fluctuation throughout the year is often important for re-flowering.
Always water orchids from the top of the pot and allow it to drain through the open bark compost, do not rely on them taking up water from underneath the pot as this can lead to the compost and roots becoming too wet. Instead take your plant to the sink and water from above, then allow it to drain before placing in back on the saucer, tray or in a cover pot. Check your orchids weekly and water them when they have dried out. Don’t be afraid to keep the pot on the drier side as there are far fewer problems orchids kept too dry than too wet. You may water once a week or less often, depending on how quickly they dry out in your environment. With orchids growing in transparent pots, keep an eye on the roots to make sure they are keeping green and healthy rather than brown and rotten.
Orchids would not obtain many extra nutrients growing in the sparse habitats that they do so we should be careful not to overfeed them. You can add a little orchid fertiliser every 3rd watering. For a mixed collection it may be easier to use a high nitrogen orchid 'grow' feed in the spring and summer followed by a high potash 'bloom' feed in the autumn and winter. Alternatively use the correct feed depending on if the plant is in growth or if you are trying to bring it into flower.
Rainforests are naturally humid places and to create this at home can be tricky. You can grow other suitable companion plants such as ferns and air plants with your orchids, mist the foliage several times a week and stand the pots on damp pebbles from where the moisture will evaporate around the plants. Do not allow the plants to sit in a puddle of water.
CONSERVATORIES AND GREENHOUSES
The environment in a conservatory or greenhouse can be quite extreme, being too warm in summer and too cold in winter so you need to make the place 'orchid-friendly' with shade, ventilation and humidity in the summer and warmth and insulation in the winter. Creating a good environment will certainly make your orchids grow and flower better.
GROWING IN THE HOME
The home environment can be more stable than a conservatory/greenhouse but it can have a dry atmosphere. Create humidity by misting the leaves and roots of the orchids regularly, growing them with other houseplants as companions and maybe even standing them on damp pebbles.
Want to know more?
Why not join us for an Orchid Masterclass and learn lots whilst enjoying a fun day in our nursery and a tasty lunch!