Tips for Growing Orchids

Choose the best varieties for your home, and your orchids can live long, happy lives.

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Choosing Plants and Pots

When choosing an orchid, select one that enjoys conditions that you can provide at home, such as a moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) or a boat orchid (Cymbidium). If you can keep your plants in a heated greenhouse, your choice is wider. Hybrids of the following orchids are generally reliable, given the right conditions: Cattleya, Dendrobium, Epidendrum, Oncidium, and the slipper orchid Paphiopedilum.

Before buying an orchid, look over the plant for any signs of pests and diseases, and make sure it has plenty of flowers and firm buds. Check that the aerial roots are firm and pale with green tips, and that any roots visible through a clear plastic pot (in which orchids are often grown) are equally healthy, and not black. Most tropical orchids have aerial roots that absorb water and photosynthesize like leaves, taking energy from the sun and converting it into food. As a result, they can survive in very little soil, and require only small containers. Some should be grown in transparent pots to enable the roots to absorb sunlight.

Shop Around
Buy your orchids from a reputable source, such as a specialist nursery. Avoid those that have been sitting around in a drafty store for weeks, because they may not survive for very long.

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