Growing Orchids for Beginners

Here you’ll find tips on growing orchids for beginners, as well as information on how to grow orchids. Growing orchids is easy when you take to time to select orchids that match growing environment in your home. 

The Orchidaceae family is large and varied, with 28,000 species growing in a wide range of environments. Orchids can be found growing in tropical rainforests, clinging to a tree limbs, or growing on rocky ledges. 

In the 1800s, orchids were taken from their natural habitats and sent to wealthy patrons (who could afford the expense). Orchids are now widely accessible and more affordable due to new methods of propagation. 

Thousands of plantlets can be grown in test tubes from a smallGrowing Orchids for Beginners piece of a parent plant, although the orchids cultured from these tissues do not begin blooming until they are five to six years old.

Species that produce the larger blossoms are still best when grown in a greenhouse environment, where light, temperature, and humidity are ideal. 

Growing Orchids for Beginners – Understanding Orchid Flower Parts

The male and female parts form on organ, called the column. For pollination to take place, the right insect must be drawn into the flower and crawl around.

Orchids do produce seeds (which are very tiny) as well. They require the presence of fungi before they can germinate and grow. Orchid hybrids can be successfully created by germination in agar jelly. It is possible to cross-breed different species as well as genera.

The basic orchid bloom is made up of three petals in the inner whorl, and three more petals (sepals) in the outer whorl. Orchid flowers are designed to attract bees, insect, birds, and even bats. They can grow from the pseudobulb, apex, or a node between the leaf axil and plant axis.

A pseudobulb is a storage organ that is located on the stem between two leaf nodes. Flowers that grow from the orchid's apex develop in the center. Axillary orchids are monopedial and can bloom many or just a few petals.

Growing Orchids for Beginners - Growth Habits

Orchids grow in two ways in the wild. They grow in trees or in the ground. Orchids that grow in trees are called epiphytes (air plants). Orchids that grow in the ground are called terrestrials (earth plants).

The following two terms describe the growth habits of orchids:

Monopodial, or upright orchids develop stems that emerge from a crown, or foot. When the plant matures, flower spikes emerge from the stem – in the midsection between the leaves. Two orchids that are typically monopodial are Lady’s slippers and moth orchids.

Sympodial, or creeping orchids, develop a shallow creeping rhizome. A green shoot that will eventually flower emerges from the tip of the rhizome. Sympodial orchids include cattleya, dendrobium, and oncidium species.

Growing Orchids for Beginners – Selection and Care

When selecting an orchid, the most important factor to consider is whether or not you can provide the ideal conditions for the orchid to grow and thrive.

Environment and care requirements will vary slightly by orchid species – if you are growing orchids for the first time, be sure to research the different types of species and orchid care requirements before making a purchase.

Growing Orchids for Beginners - Environment and Care Requirements

Temperature – What is the ideal day/night temperature range?

Humidity – How much humidity does the orchid require? Will it be above what is considered “normal” indoor humidity?

Air Circulation – Can you provide adequate fresh air circulation?

Water Requirements – How often will the orchid need to be watered? Will it increase during the growing period?

Fertilizer Requirements – How often? How much?

Potting Requirements – What is the appropriate potting medium, container, or mount? How often will the orchid need to be repotted and/or propagated?  

When you are ready to buy an orchid, look for plump roots, with no bruises or soft spots on the crowns. Purchase mature plants that are on the verge of producing a flower spike.

Be aware - orchids in full bloom, or are on the verge of blooming are usually priced higher than those that are not ready to flower.

More Information Related to Orchid Care

Taking Care of Orchids - How to Diagnose Problems (Orchid Pests and Orchid Diseases

Get to Know the Different Types of Orchids

Cattleya Orchids – Large Stunning Blooms
Cymbidium Orchids - Long-Lasting Flowers
Dendrobium Orchid - Arching Displays of Beautiful Flowers
Oncidium Orchid - Colorful Exotic Blooms
Paphiopedilum Orchid - Slipper-Shaped Flowers
Phalaenopsis Orchid - Elegant Long-Lasting Flowers


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