ORCHID CULTURE

The natural greenhouse setting in South Florida makes growing and enjoying orchids ideal. Though there are thousands of orchids to choose from, it is important of remember to choose orchids that will do well in your particular growing spaces and environment. Become knowledgeable about your micro climate. Check your garden at different times of the day to note: shade areas, sun location, air movement, water sources (hose, sprinkler system) and the types of tree canopies, whether the trees are full or open like a palm.

We are usually attracted to the intriguing flowers at the top of the orchid plant, however; it is the bottom or the roots that we need to pay the most attention to. Healthy roots equal a healthy orchid. A strong root system is essential for good growth and vigorous flower production.

Listed below are the basic requirements you should take into consideration when cultivating your orchids. Selecting a suitable location for the plant will help to ensure success.

LIGHT

Orchids depend on light in order to flower and grow. An orchid receiving too much light will look yellow to light green. Dark green leaves can indicate insufficient light. Orchids receiving the right amount of light will look medium to olive green in color. Orchids like filtered light . Pool or patio screening (30% to 40% shade) is recommended. Shade house structures, or trees, are also good growing possibilities. Vandas, oncidiums and dendrobiums require a bright light, not direct sun, Orchids like as much light as possible without injuring the tissue. Phalenopsis and Paphiopedilums require less light.

WATERING

Water early in the morning. Give the plant the opportunity to dry out the rest of the day. Make sure to provide a porous, well drained medium. Aeration around the roots is also an important factor. Orchids like moisture but not wet feet. The plant needs to be watered at least 2 to 3 times a week. Spaghnum moss is not recommended as a growing medium in our outdoor conditions.

FERTILIZER

A well balanced slow release fertilizer with minor elements provides a continuous source of food with is beneficial for the orchid. Once a month a liquid fertilizer can be applied as an added supplement.

TEMPERATURE

Temperature 55 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit are preferable in South Florida. Orchids like a 10 to 15 degree drop in temperature from day to night. Temperature affects orchid growth.

HUMIDITY

Humidity is important in helping the plant retain moisture. A good relative humidity is 50%. The humidity is influenced by the temperature.

AIR MOVEMENT

Proper air circulation is essential. Orchids like continual air movement around them. The air movement helps to cool the orchid and reduces the onset of diseases. The orchid should be properly spaced.

Courtesy of: Palm Hammock Orchid Estate - 9995 S.W. 66 St. - Miami, Fl 33173 (305) 274-9813 www.palmhammock.com

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