Orchid plants are members of the largest family of plants – Orchidaceae and are simply known as Orchids. It is estimated that there are about 25,000 species of orchids growing in the wild.
Orchids are probably the most diverse group of plants that thrive in almost kinds of climates except the arctic. Basically, they are parasites that feed on large tree trunks, preferring shade and very little light. The most varieties that one gets to see in most plant nurseries and garden centers tend to be hybrid varieties that have characteristics of orchids and other similar species..
One is reminded of the Orient and the rain forest when one thinks of orchid flowers and plants. The flowers are very fabulous looking and eye-catching , coming in some spectacular colors and mixed shades. Orchid flowers can be found in varied colors ranging from red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, blue and even a rare type of bluish black, and black. I feel that orchids are the most interesting flower formations ever.
Growing Orchids in your home
Growing orchids at home is fairly easy and does not require much effort. Orchids have very few requirements except that they need to be given human-comfort temperature, humidity and a certain amount of light. They do particularly well in closed balconies that receive partial sunlight and warmth. It is better to group them together; this takes care of their humidity requirements. But the most important thing to bear in mind is never to over-water them and let water stand at the base of the plant. It is best to let the top soil dry out before watering.
Although orchid plants need to be kept moist, there should be no water logging; otherwise the stem tends to rot and the growth gets stunted. Also, the leaves tend to wrinkle and shrink when the water requirement isnotmet. Fertilizer can be added only when the blooms appear and after the flowering season is over. It is best to use the ready-mixed orchid soil that is available in most plant nurseries.
It is essential to re-pot the orchid plant when not in bloom, taking care to include as much of the old potting soil as possible and placing the plants in slightly larger pots.
I have two wild varieties of orchids that I picked up from tree trunks growing in a mountainous area . One of them has tiny yellowish orange blooms which come on long spikes and in clusters. And best of all, the flowers lasted and lasted – almost a month and a half! It was the most exciting day for us when the first bloom appeared nearly a year after I got it home and planted it in a terra cotta pot . The other plant is yet to flower and I am not sure if it is the same variety or if it is different .The leaves look slightly different, so I am keeping my fingers crossed, hoping that it is a different variety altogether. I use the husk of coconut (the outer cover that has been peeled) to cover the top soil of the pots so that the plant remains cool. Now the plant has started growing into the coconut husk – after all theyare parasites!
Other than the balcony , I would suggest a windowsill as the ideal place to grow orchids. The light requirement is met, and it gets at least a little sunshine during the day. After planting the orchid plant it takes a year or two to start flowering, but once it begins flowering, it starts growing very fast and multiplies. It can be then separated and re-potted in different containers.
Orchids are one of the most fascinating, beautiful variety of flowers, often considered difficult to grow. But with the right climatic conditions they can thrive very well in your home and flower regularly.