Growing Orchids Successfully
The first step to growing an orchid successfully is the correct identification of the genera or species and to know its original habitat, in order to know its natural needs. With this information, grow ornamental orchids (like Cattleya and Phalaenopsis) is, in spite of what it seems, a relatively easy task, if respected the every-week watering, the exposure to light needs (in most cases 50% of light and never direct light) and periodic fertilization with the appropriate fertilizer for each phase of the plant.
Orchids may be grown on vases, tree ferns, or even dead wood or living trees, earth or rocks, depending on the species. They may flower once a year when correctly grown.
The seedlings may be “fed” monthly with a teaspoon of calcium powder on the edges of the vase speeding up their growth. Good drainage may be made putting the vase or tree fern hanging on wires and at 45 degrees. In general, hanging plants are more protected from diseases.
The hybrids are usually very resistant and may do well even on adverse conditions, growing faster than the “natural” species. Several crossings among genera and species result in several hybrids. Most of the orchids do not tolerate too much water, but usually, they like nutrient and moisture-rich substrates. For this reason, the vases should never be over those little plates that keep the water so the roots may not drown and kill the plant.
Small rocks on the vases do the drainage of the water and keep the desired moisture. Air on the roots is essential and for this, the use of small pieces (not the powder) of tree fern and/or coconut fibres is recommended.
The tree fern powder is usually used only every 15 days over the substrate (just a soupspoon). For this reason, it is common to use plastic transparent or clay made vases with holes on the sides so light and air may enter more easily.
A flowering plant may be indoor next to a window with a good source of sunlight, but never direct sun exposure. In this phase, you should water the substrate, depending on the air moisture, but with moderated watering and never watering the flowers. After the flowering is done you may manually remove the dry flowers and cut the branch with a fire-sterilized scissors.