Say the word Orchid and all sorts of romantic associations pop into your head. Exotic and special is what the flower says to you. So why not get an orchid for your valentine this year. Unlike the cut roses which will wither and die, you can get a single orchid plant that will live in your home as a constant reminder of your love.
If you think it is a difficult flower to take care of, let me assure you that it is not. If you pick the right orchid you can grow one on your kitchen window sill. No problem at all. So here's a quick guide to picking the right orchid for your home and simple tips for caring for the flower.
Since orchids can come in all sizes from as tiny as your nail to as huge as a basket ball, you need to pick one that is the ideal size. You need one that is not too small as you should be able to see it and enjoy it. At the same time don't pick one which is too large and needs too much space. Also remember that a plant is likely to grow some what, although that will depend on the orchid type that you pick. So ask your florist to help you out with the right choice for your home.
Orchids are very sensitive to sunlight and harsh sun can actually burn and wither the plant. So make sure that you don't leave it out in the summer sun. Most orchids grow quite well indoors with a couple of hours of sunlight in the day. Don't forget the plant outdoors overnight though. If you don't want to carry the pot in and out each day you can fix a bulb up to give the orchid the light it needs.
An orchid prefers cooler climes. So the right temperature for it would be some what cooler than what you find comfortable. This means that 60-70 degrees is usually good. If it dips below 45 or rises above 80 it would not survive after a couple of days. It will survive one odd such instance and still recoup. They are a hardy species. They don't die out that easily.
Moisture is vital for all life forms and an orchid is no exception. Unlike most plants you do not need to water your orchid every day. Which does make it a very low maintenance plant. The orchid roots breathe and so too much water will clog up the soil and kill the plant. The soil needs to be moist but not saturated. In fact rather than pour water into the soil in the pot, you can use a spray bottle to moisten the soil up. Remember to only water it when the soil is dry.
The orchid mix is what you plant the orchid in. Yes you need special soil to plant an orchid and you can not use the soil from your front yard. The mix will include materials which do not get clogged so as to enable adequate drainage. It also has larger substance so as to include air pockets from which the roots can breath. Material of the mix will vary depending on the type of orchid. Some things that can be used in the mix include bark chipping, charcoal, moss, gravel, sand and a number of other things. The optimum mix for your orchid will be best known to your florist.
As with all other plants a healthy shot of fertilizer can do wonders to boost your orchid's growth. A water solvent fertilizer with no urea in it will work best for the orchid. Do not add more than the recommended amount or you will kill your plant. It is very sensitive to the fertilizer so ensure that you use a liquid one if possible. Just add it in your regular watering schedule. Don't add as much water that day as the fertilizer fluid will make up the deficiency.
In the winter when the bloom has died and the stalk is withered you will need to do a bit of pruning. Make sure that you take off the dead parts of the plant completely. You can also use this pruning period to shape the plant the way you want it to look. Just don't over do it with the shears. Pruning allows the orchid plant to bloom every season.
If your orchid plant has grown and need to be placed in a larger pot you must pick a pot one size larger for it. If the new pot is too big the plant will not take to it. Also you can change the orchid mix that you are using. If the old one was not working too well try out a new mix. After the pot is prepared water it nicely. Let the water drain out before you transplant the orchid.
It is going to be well worth all the effort when you see that orchid bloom in your living room.