habit and orchid care
Before you begin reading on orchid care it is very helpful to
understand the habit or nature of orchids.
This will help you gain a better understanding of its needs and
make it thrive.
Firstly, most orchids are epiphytes, as in they grow on top of other
Most orchids are found growing on the bark of trees in wet regions.
Their roots are specilized and used to grip onto
surfaces. The roots are also covered in a fine layer of material
that helps absorb and retain water from humid air or
brief showers. Along with catching water, the roots also abosrb
nutrients from the air and deacying leaf detritus that
builds up near the plant which do not provide a lot of nutrients.
The plant itself usually consists of a column of leaves
(monopodial like vandas and phals) or several seperate psuedobulbs
(sympodial like oncidiums and cattleyas) with
leaves coming out of the top. The psuedobulbs act to store water
and food for periods of no rain, those without
psuedobulbs have very succulent leaves capable of holding lots of
water (this is why it is ok to let the media dry out
between waterings!). Most orchids can actually survive more than a
month without watering because of this. Because
they live amongst the branches of trees, they have
protection from UV radiation. In their natural habitat, most
light is blocked out by the tree leaves yearound. That is why
orchids require indirect sunlight and should have
shade directly above them at all times. The flowering is usually
initiated in winter, in anticipation of spring.
Flowering is specialized, and most orchids have their own unique
pollinator that they have evolved to accept.
Flowers are often very hardy to withstand sudden downpours and
winds, which is why they last so long indoors.
Seed pods often take months to mature and most produce seeds by the
millions the size of dust particles.
These seeds require a symbiotic fungus found in their native
habitats to initiate germination. This is often done
in the lab via nutrient cultures.
So now that you know how orchids grow in the wild, you can apply it
to growing in the home! Remember orchids occur
naturally and conditions outside your home are much more harsh.
Most cultivated orchids are very hardy and require
little care. In fact, the more you fret and mess with your orchids,
often the worse it does. Letting an orchid become
adjusted to its location and not overwatering or feeding will allow
it to thrive. So let's get started!