Orchids are among the most treasured plants, but they also make up the most numerous plant family.
Around 90 percent originate in the hot regions of the tropics; the remainder are from cooler regions. Among orchids, as among bromeliads and ferns, there is a distinction between earth- dwelling species and those that live on trees. Epiphyte orchids are more often chosen as houseplants.
Orchids need a special soil medium, may only be given decalcified water, and grow in special pots. Dark pots are unsuitable because they heat up too quickly, which doesn’t suit the roots. Like all plants with storage organs, orchids need a rest period.
Their location must be light, and have even warmth and high humidity. Watering them requires the famous “green thumb”. The medium must feel dry before orchids are given more water.
Phalaenopsis, which tends to grow epiphytic in the wild, has broad, dark green or spotted leaves. The flowers, in racemens or spikes, are often spectacularly colored and last a long time. Phalaenopsis is without pseudobulbs because temperatures in its native habitat fluctuate hardly at all; it has fleshy roots, instead. The many hybrids outdo the species in size and color and are much better adapted to our heated living areas.
Location: Year-round, light to partial shade. By day at 68-77°F (20-25°C). By night not under 61°F (16°C).
Care: Keep moderately moist with soft water all year. Allow the soil to dry up a little but never to dry out completely between waterings and provide orchid food every 14 days. High humidity is an advantage, and for the pure species, a necessity. The roots need a lot of air, so use orchid mix to repot and avoid injuring the roots. Loweringing night temperatures to 55- 61°F (13-16°C) for three to four weeks in late fall or winter will improve flowering.
Propagation: By adventitious plantlets that can be potted when they have grown strong little roots.
Pests and diseases: Scale insects if kept too dry; root rot if roots are damaged.
Uses: A beautiful orchid; good for beginners; excellent for hydroponics.