Orchids come in many varieties and are vibrant and hardy plants. However, many people do not know of this curious fact, but orchids do not grow in soil.
Epiphytes are orchids that cling to trees, supporting themselves on the bark. They receive all the water they need when rain water runs or drips down the tree. Other nutrients they receive from the air.
Lithophytes are a type of orchid that grows on rocks. Saprophytes grow in leaf litter, and terrestrials are found growing in sand.
Orchids, like other plants, prefer certain conditions when growing in the wild. You need to bear this in mind when growing them under greenhouse conditions. Being aware and armed with information of what makes them thrive, you can provide a good environment for them.
It is easy to maintain a setting similar to their natural habitat for orchids. Almost anyone can throw together some lava rocks or fir bark chips. Regular light watering is sufficient for most orchids. Allow enough time between watering for them to dry. With a loosely packed base, it is easily drained.
Your orchids should be re-potted every two or three years. Not only will they begin to outgrow their pots, but the material that they grow in will usually begin to break down as well. This is due to too much water or insect activity. You know its time to re-pot if the roots are appearing over the side of the pot.
It is far easier to re-pot such plants when we compare it to traditional plants. Do remember to exercise caution when dealing with plants. This procedure should only be undertaken when the plant is at it’s lowest level of activity. An example would be early Spring, before the most growth takes place.
Be cautious when you take the plant from its pot and remove any remaining material from its roots. To give the plant the best chance of surviving in it’s new pot, clip off any damaged or unhealthy looking roots.
Many times this move will be made to a larger pot. Refill the pot with the proper growing media, whether it’s bark, lava rocks or something else. There is also a special orchid sphagnum moss that works quite well for some types. Clear a place to insert your plant and refill up to the crown (rhizome).
If necessary, support the plant with a stake. Use it for a while, until the plant can grow without toppling.
Always remember that the orchid will get most of it’s nutrients from the air and water instead of the growing media. Make sure you provide proper airflow.
The amount of air available to the roots is dependent on the chip size. Make sure you have the right potting material for your specific plant. When the plant begins to sprout fresh leaves, you can use a bit of 18-18-18 to fertilize it.