March 24, 2012 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Think orchids are delicate and hard to care for? Not true! Like many people, I used to believe this so I steered clear of them. But on a recent visit to Costa Farms, I learned that orchids are the perfect indoor plant for people like me, the houseplant fearful: they thrive on neglect. Besides being beautiful, orchids, like many houseplants, are good for your health. They provide oxygen and are great natural air filters that help clear indoor air of carbon dioxide and other airborne toxins. And since orchids do their “heavy breathing” at night, they are perfect for the bedroom.
Tips for the Newbie Orchid Grower
Start with “Phalaenopsis or ‘moth orchids’ which are easy to grow and maintain, the colors are vibrant, and you’ll feel successful as the flowers last for months. “What attracts most people to orchids are the exotic colors,” says Dr. Kate Santos, orchid expert with Costa Farms. This spring, look for the new 12-inche tall ‘Phalaenopsis’ Mini-Orchids that come in decorative pots for under $15.
Water your mini-orchids thoroughly by drenching them in a sink or watering container until the pot feels weighted. After a few days when the orchid becomes very light in weight, it’s time to re-water. Remember never to leave your orchid in standing water.
Feed your orchids with a good high-nitrogen fertilizer weekly, but remember to dilute the fertilizer as instructed. This will help to bring booms back the following year.
3. Room Temperature
Orchids enjoy indoor temperatures between 60 to 75 F during the day and above 55 F at night.
Remember to place them in a well-lit area, but not in direct sunlight. The amount of light varies depending on the orchid. In general, if you can comfortably read in the room, there is enough light for your orchid. Orchids with broader leaves need less light than those with thinner leaves.
Trust me, this part is super easy: I accomplished it successfully and it was a breeze!
Depending on the growth of the orchid, you may consider repotting every one to two years. When repotting, use a medium of large bark and/or moss-like mix, which you can purchase at your local garden center.
Available at your local retailer, mini-orchids come in a wide variety of colors in both 3-inch and 6-inch pots with eight to 10 blooms on every plant. For more tips on growing orchids or to find a retailer near you, visit www.orchidsareeasy.com.
Next: We’ll be giving away 2 tickets to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show featuring Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden walls–stay tuned!