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Orchids add an exotic touch to any home décor

Orchids add an exotic touch to any home décor. They have long-lasting flowers which come in an array of colors and shapes. There are about seven types which can be readily purchased in stores and garden centers and successfully grown under typical house conditions. These are: catteleya, cymbidium, dendrobium, odontoglossum, oncidium, paphiopedilum, and phalaenopsis. Of the seven, phalaenopsis is by far the easiest to care for and stays in bloom the longest, at least six months or more.

Most tropical orchids (cymbidiums are an exception) are epiphytic in nature which means that they “grow in the air” and not in soil.  Orchids attach themselves to trees for mechanical support and take their water and nutrients in from the surrounding air. Therefore to mimic natural conditions, orchids grown at home must be potted in special orchid pots with orchid medium. The pots have holes in the sides and the roots will often protrude from these holes as they require both light and air. The orchid medium typically consists of bark chips, charcoal, and perlite which provide both good air circulation and drainage.

Each type of orchid requires a slightly different care regimen pertaining to water and light conditions so the following is a general guideline which pertains to phalaenopsis. An east facing window is perfect and west facing windows are good but require some form of screening to filter the sunlight for some varieties.  A daytime temperature of 70 F with a nighttime temperature of 60 F is ideal. The cooler temperature at night is very important to overall success as it allows the plant to store rather than expend carbohydrates. This can often be achieved by placing plants near a window but not so close they will be chilled during the cold winter nights. Orchids enjoy high air humidity and should be misted daily. Watering can be done on a weekly basis by dunking the pot in tepid water or plants can be watered a little bit every other day, roughly a couple of tablespoons worth, with a watering can. Some orchids have the ability to store water and can dry out somewhat, others like phalaenopsis cannot.

If plants are provided with the correct light and temperature conditions they will reward you with a beautiful display of showy and sometimes fragrant blooms to enjoy.

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