How to Grow and Care for Orchids
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The 5 Essentials You’ll Find In Books About Orchids

According to many orchid books, the orchid plant has spawned thousands of natural and hybrid species.  They are very favorable with homeowners because of their required maintenance level.  Orchid plants are simple to cultivate if given an adequate amount of resources; namely air, water, light and nutrients (from fertilizer).  A very popular orchid among homeowners is the phalaenopsis orchid because of how easy it is to grow.  Moreover, they are easy to maintain in a home or office setting.  The orchid species are accompanied by a wonderful fragrance. However, their fragrance can vary with types and hybrids.  The scent may resemble a fruit, dessert, or flower and can be highly potent in smell.

When tending to an orchid plant, you should always consider these five essential tips:

1. Species - The species originated in humid tropical regions where it was generally 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  As the plant evolved from its native habitat, it adapted to cooler climates and can now be seen - even in snow!

2. Blooming - If you were to look across all types of orchid species, you'd find that each blooms for a different length of time.  Some orchids bloom year-round while others may only bloom once every year.  The variability of the orchid species' blooming phases can range considerably as well.  To give you an idea, the phalaenopsis orchid blooms for around three months if taken proper care of, while Cattleyas orchids only stay in bloom for a month at most.

3. Potting - Orchids fare best in potting environments that resemble their natural habitat.  For the most part, potting soil is detrimental to the health of your orchid because it restricts airflow from penetrating the roots of the plant.  Moreover, if the plant is placed in a pot with little or no holes at the bottom, the accumulated water supply will eventually drown your orchid - it needs to circulate out through the bottom for the orchid to grow properly.

4. Watering - When you do give them water, make sure they are given 1 to 2 full waterings per month.  In summer, your watering schedule might increase.  Typically the more heat, the more watering; less heat, less watering.  Generally it is best to let their roots dry out completely before watering them again.  You do not want them continuously soaked.  When deciding on what media to pot your orchid in, only consider bark and/or New Zealand sphagnum moss.  These two medias allow for a more humid and less "soaked" environment for your orchid.  Normally, potting bark should receive more watering than New Zealand sphagnum moss.

5. Lighting - When thinking about where to leave your orchid, you must know that they generally prefer low light environments where they are facing east.  This is so that they maintain a favorable amount of sunlight throughout the day but avoid the strong heat of the afternoon sun.  In their natural habitats, orchids grow healthy when situated under trees where sunlight is less direct but still always present.  If your orchid is placed in a location where sun directly and consistently beats down on it, you will start to notice the leaves turning yellow.  This is not good for it - place your orchid in an environment with more conducive lighting.  Yellowing leaves may also suggest that your orchid is suffering from malnutrition - be sure to give it fertilizer every two weeks.  Lastly, prior to giving any diluted nutrients to your orchid, make sure that you water the media if it is dry.

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