Given as a gift, orchids last far beyond February 14 for the recipient and are a living reminder that you care. Delicate and graceful, yet tougher than they look, orchids are a symbol of luxury, love, resilience and beauty. Orchids are the type of plant we refer to as an epiphyte. In a rainforest or tropical jungle you would see the orchids clinging to a tree. Its roots find their footing on the tree bark and use the tree for support. The tree supports the plant but isn’t providing nutrients to the orchid. An orchid in nature is not a parasite, it gets moisture and nutrients from its surroundings. It is humid in the jungle and orchid roots have adapted to cling and absorb water from the humid air which is why we call them an “epiphyte”. Like any environment, sometimes it’s wet and sometimes it’s dry so they have adapted with thick stems called “pseudobulbs” that allow them to store and hold water for the dry periods to come.
So why consider orchids on Valentine’s Day? The blooms are long lasting. They come in a variety of spectacular colors, shapes and markings. When cared for properly, they can last for months and will continue to bloom year after year with exotic flair. You don’t have to be an expert to care for an orchid, when potted properly in an orchid growing media in an orchid pot they can be yes…..low maintenance! For more blooms and better health, you can feed bi-weekly with an easy to use liquid orchid fertilizer from Flowerland. Reminiscent of the tropics, this is a gifted flower with exotic flair. An orchid makes a statement in any room from living areas to kitchens, office and even the bathroom! (It will love the humidity given bright light is available).
The best orchid mixes contain special medias that promote healthy drainage and good airflow. It is important to note that orchids do not grow in dirt, it will smother their roots and kill the plant. Orchids require special media in which to grow. Orchids do not grow in pots in the wild but in our homes an orchid pot is needed to provide the “cling” and support. These pots hold orchid bark or media and have “holes” in the sides so their extending roots can breathe and be free to hold on to the pot. Once the roots have a firm hold, it’s as though they tell the plant it is now safe to bloom! It is perfectly fine for orchid roots to grow outside of the pot. Unfortunately, our homes are not humid enough to support epiphytes well. So, a pot helps by holding some moisture around the roots. The secret to growing healthy orchids is to grow healthy visable roots. For orchids, the root growth is the best indicator of the health of the plant. Oxygen to the roots is needed from a combination of a good open mix and proper watering habits. An easy way to monitor your watering habits is to sharpen and pencil and stick the sharpened end into the growing media. Later stop by and look at the sharpened end of the pencil. Is it dark? Too wet. Light colored? Too dry. Practice for best results. Orchids do not like ‘wet feet’ but they do very much like humidity. An orchid does not require the kind of bright direct sunshine that vegetable plants in your garden need. A bright lit window is good and shading if a south window to avoid direct sunlight. Most orchids like to get almost dry and then be flooded with water and allowed to get almost dry again. With the addition of some sphagnum moss it is easy to tell when they are dry, the moss feels crunchy when you touch it.
Consider a long lasting exotic looking orchid for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day. You’ll be glad you did. Indoor plants keep giving enjoyment and interest well after the holiday is over.