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Master Gardener: Growing orchids

By in Press Enterprise on October 3, 2017

By Ottillia "Toots" Bier

Q: I’ve always admired orchid plants but have hesitated to try growing such an exotic plant. I see them offered for sale in garden centers and even grocery stores. Can you suggest an easy to grow variety for me to try?

A: When anyone asks me to suggest an easy to grow orchid, I always recommend a phalaenopsis. These orchids are easy to grow, flower easily, are relatively inexpensive, and are readily available. Phalaenopsis is sometimes called the “moth orchid” because the flowers somewhat resemble large butterflies or moths resting on a branch. You will find them in flower in an array of colors, including white, shades of pink, and yellow. Some are a solid color and others have faint stripes or speckles.

The main season of bloom is spring, but individual flowers on the gracefully arching branch or branches open successively and may last for months. I have had mature phalaenopsis plants for years that bloom almost continuously with many flowers open at one time.

Phalaenopsis orchids thrive at the same temperature as most people, with day temperatures around 75 to 80 degrees and night temperatures around 65 degrees. A location beside a north or east-facing window where they receive bright filtered light but no direct sunlight would be perfect, but they seem to do pretty well under less than perfect conditions too.

You can provide beneficial humidity by placing your orchid plants on a humidity tray. For those unfamiliar with a humidity tray, it is simply a shallow tray or dish filled with pebbles. To this tray you add water to just below the surface of the pebbles; the plant roots do not come into contact with the water. The water evaporating from the tray increases the humidity around […]    

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