The orchid family is large and diverse, with countless species from all parts of the world. Most orchids fall into 2 basic groups: the epiphytes and the terrestrials. Epiphytic orchids grow on the bark of trees, getting water from the rain and nutrients from the air and any organic matter that collects around their roots by chance. Terrestrial orchids grow like most normal plants, with their roots in the soil. It is important to know which type your orchids in your orchid garden are, because they need to be grown differently.
Because growing orchids requires many specialized conditions, some gardeners have the impression they are tricky to grow. But if you meet their needs, they will perform admirably.
Not all orchids can be treated alike. There are 2 types of growth in orchid plants: sympodial and monopodial. Plants with a monopodial growth habit become taller each year, with new growth emerging at the tip of the stem. Orchids with sympodial growth — the most prevalent type of orchid growth — form each year’s new growth from the base of the previous season’s growth. Sympodial growth is characterized by a creeping stem, called a rhizome, from which roots go downward and the leaves and flowers grow upward.
Most of the sympodial orchids have pseudobulbs, thickened stems that store nutrients and water, so the plants can survive seasons of drought. In fact, sympodial-type orchids need a drying out period between waterings. Monopodial-type orchids, though, require more attention to their watering needs; they should not be allowed to dry out, as they have no means of water storage.
The requirements for growing orchids are listed below.
A rule of thumb is to give your orchids as much sun as they can take without burning the leaves. Brown spots on the leaves and pseudobulbs indicate too much sun.
Many orchids prefer daytime temperatures from 70-85๐ F with a drop of 10-15๐ F at night.
Since most orchids come from the tropics, they like humidity.
In the wilds, orchids constantly receive fresh, moving air. Without fresh circulating air, orchids will eventually die from rot or infection.
# Containers and Potting Mixes
Because ventilation is needed around the plant roots, excess water must not accumulate in the bottom of the container. So, the most proper container should come with large drainage holes.
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