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09.04.2006

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orchid you not easy growing tips for orchid newbies
by Yee-Fan Sun
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1 2 3 4
continued from page 2
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air Ďem out
Orchids are generally happiest when you provide them with good air circulation, a fair amount of humidity, and decent water drainage. Your pot should, of course, have plenty of drainage holes already when you bring it home from the store or nursery. To help increase the humidity and avoid letting the plant sit around in water, place some small rocks or stones on a saucer or in a pot thatís bigger than the actual plant pot, then pop on the orchid. Any excess water will drain out from the potting mix and onto the rocks. The water evaporating off the rocks, meanwhile, will up the humidity in the air around the plant. If your pad is particularly dry, you can also give the plant a light misting of water between waterings. Speaking of wateringÖ
open air | During the warmer weather months or if you live in a balmy climate, try moving your orchids outdoors. Many orchids will only bloom when thereís a big temperature differential between day and night -- hard to achieve in your average temperature-controlled digs, but part-and-parcel of life in the great outdoors. Just give your orchid the same sort of lighting conditions you would inside the house (generally this will mean bright morning light or mid- to late- day light thatís filtered by the shade of a tree; if you notice brownish-blackish spots appearing on the leaves, the plantís getting scorched, and should be moved to a shadier spot). Make sure to keep an eye on the weather reports as youíll definitely want to pull your plant back in if you get a freak early frost. My mom, who lives in wacky-weathered New England, generally moves her orchid collection outside sometime in early June, then shuffles them back inside sometime in late September.

water pleaseÖ
One of the big reasons why orchids like Phalenopsis and Dendrobiums make such excellent houseplants is that they donít require constant watering -- perfect for the semi-neglectful caretaker. Different varieties can vary as to exactly how much moisture they like, so pay attention to the care instructions on the tag that comes with your particular plant (Paphiopedilums, for instance, are a little unusual in that they prefer a constant level of moisture). In general, though, youíll want the potting mix to feel just about dry before you water your orchid again. In most homes, this will mean you only have to water about once a week.

One of the best ways to ensure youíre not drowning your poor plant is to take the whole pot and place it in a sink. (If youíre doing the pot-within-a-pot method, remove the inner plant pot from the outer one.) Pour the water over the potting mix (try to avoid pouring the water on the plant itself; you donít want water sitting around in the leaf junctures), ensuring a thorough and even soak, then let it run through the pot to drain. Return your plant to its usual spot.

 

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