It's no secret that I love gardening, and I love plants of all kinds - in particular, potted plants. I keep a rather sizable collection of specimens in my greenhouse, which includes a wide-ranging group of orchids - all the vibrant colors and variations in shape and size make me so happy.
Caring for orchids is a daunting process for many, but if you take time to understand their basic needs, there is no reason why they couldn't bloom and thrive in your home. Here are some photos of the orchids that have been flowering at my farm over the last few weeks.
My orchid collection takes up space on two long tables in the greenhouse. Most orchid genera are epiphytic, meaning they grow on trees and rocks rather than in soil. Orchid roots need to breathe and therefore cannot live buried in dirt.
These are ‘Martha Stewart’ Cattleya orchids. The Cattleya is a genus with more than 100-species and numerous hybrids, which range in bloom size, color, and smell. These are from Kalapana Tropicals. http://www.kalapanatropicals.com/index.php
Cattleya orchids are among the most popular. They have often been called “corsage orchids” or “Queen of orchids” because of their big, showy flowers.
Cattleyas generally bloom once a year and the blooms can last anywhere from one to three weeks or more.
The roots of a Cattleya orchid are largely exposed and subject to periodic drying. In the tropics, much of their moisture requirement is met by the frequent rains. The spongy, velamen layer of the roots absorbs moisture and nutrients from the debris that collects around the plants.
Rule of thumb – Cattleyas receiving a proper balance of light, humidity and temperature will have healthy bright green leaves. Too little light would make the leaves very dark.
Paphiopedilum orchids are often called ‘lady slippers’ or ‘slipper orchids’ because of their unique pouch-like flowers. These specimens are easily grown as houseplants, and look wonderful with their striking green leaves.
Here is the back of one of the “slipper orchid” blooms.
The key to growing these plants is to keep the root systems strong and healthy. These plants have no bulbs or stems to store moisture and nutrients, so it is important to maintain their roots.
The pouch of a ‘slipper orchid’ traps insects so they are forced to climb up, collect or deposit pollen, and fertilize the flower.
Unlike most other orchids, ‘slipper orchids’ have two fertile anthers — meaning they are diandrous.
Here is a more slender shaped ‘slipper orchid’ – so pretty.
Dendrobium is the second largest orchid genus, with more than a thousand species. This Dendrobium ‘Little Atro’ grows to 20-inches. The evergreen canes are topped by a single three to five inch long inflorescence, each one producing four to eight flowers.
This is Dendrobium ‘Aussie chip’ x. Dendronbium atroviolaceum ‘Pygmy’ x. Dendrobium atroviolacrum ‘H&R’. Dendrobiums need lots of light, but not direct sun. A lightly shaded south window is best.
This is a Reed-Stem Epidendrum orchid. These plants thrive with medium to high light conditions, and should be potted in a well-draining medium. Reed orchids produce clusters of flowers shaped like those of the cattleya orchid, but smaller.
Here is a closer look at the flower cluster on this Reed-Stem Epidendrum orchid – the bright pink blooms stand out against the green leaves. Epidendrums are tough plants and can do well in almost any temperature above 50-degrees Fahrenheit.
Vanda is another genus in the orchid family, Orchidaceae. This genus is highly prized in horticulture for its showy, fragrant, long-lasting, and intensely colorful flowers.
Temperatures for most vandas should be warm; a minimum night temperature of 55-degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. Cold spells can be tolerated for a short time if it’s protected from wind.
Oncidiums are found in Florida and Mexico, through Central and much of South America. The genus contains approximately 600 species.
The lip dominates the flowers of many oncidiums and, in a number of species, fancifully resembles a full, swirling skirt, with smaller segments being the “dancer’s” arms and head – it is also popularly known as the dancing-lady orchid.
These are Cymbidium orchids – look at the vibrant pinks. These orchids are prized for their long-lasting sprays of flowers, used especially as cut flowers or for corsages in the spring.
Optimum temperatures in winter are 45 to 55-degrees Fahrenheit at night and 65 to 75-degrees Fahrenheit during the day. When plants are in bud, temperatures must be as constant as possible. I am fortunate to have greenhouses, where temperatures and humidity levels can be closely monitored.
Here’s Ryan preparing to feed all the orchids in the collection.
This all-purpose orchid fertilizer can be used as a general purpose feed for all cattleyas, vandas, dendrobiums and all other orchids year-round.
Remember to always feed your plants. In general, most orchid fertilizers recommend usage once a month.
During this time, I love having a few of these stunning specimens in my home. I just bought this at the NYBG Rare Orchid Sale. It is called Cymbidium Midnight Tracey ‘Moonwalker’. Cymbidiums need a constant supply of moisture, with more during spring and summer. In winter, it should be kept barely moist.
I just love these stunning bronze blooms.
This is called Oncostele Hilo ‘Firecracker’. Oncostele should be kept in medium to bright light. It also prefers warmer conditions – ideally, temperatures between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
Its stems of red colored flowers are gorgeous. When watering, it should be thorough and the medium should be dry at least half way through before watering again.
Two more beautiful ‘slipper orchids’. The dark purple is Pahiopedilum Super Suk x Raisin Pie.
This is a beautiful heirloom Cattleya – Blc. Dan O’Neil ‘Jubilee’.
I love how the bright colored blooms look on my small dining table in the Bid Room.
Here’s a bright yellow Lady’s slipper sitting in my servery.
Orchids are such gorgeous plants – they are a wonderful sign that spring is on its way.