Foliage Friday: Orchids

Exciting News! This will be my last post on this site. I am moving to a new site with a new name on a different hosting platform tomorrow! If you are reading this after February 27th, 2021 go to becomingagardener.com for more posts.

Last weekend, I came across a potted houseplant that someone had left out on the street for the taking. I have a hard time saying no to free plants.

This plant was actually three plants in one. I think there are two dracena and an orchid in this pot. They each have their own plastic pot and all three pots are stuffed into the bigger black ceramic pot, so they’re not really planted together. This is fortunate, since I don’t think orchids and dracena would like this same conditions…? But I don’t know. I’ve never grown orchids. They seem very tempermental and intimidating to me. I’m going to see if I can revive this orchid and get it to bloom. And if not, who cares? It was a rejected, free plant.

First, off, “orchids” are actually a large family of plants (Orchidacea) with hundreds of different species. I think orchids in the genus Phalaenopsis are the ones most commonly seen as houseplants, and this is probably what I have.

Phalaenopsis are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants (e.g. trees) and derive their nutrients from the air or debris around them rather from soil. They aren’t parasitic because they don’t steal nutrients from the tree; they just grow there for support. Orchids are similar to moss.

According to the internet, orchids like humid environments and bright light, but not direct sunlight. They don’t like cold drafts or heating vents. They don’t like to be over-watered. Moving them or re-potting will stress them. Rather than planting them in potting soil, orchids should be planted in a coarse, well-draining mixture consisting of some combination of pine bark or fir bark and peat moss and/or perlite to maintain a little bit of moisture, but allow the roots to breath. There are also special orchid pots will slits up the sides that you can buy, I guess to increase air flow around the roots.

I don’t think the orchid I have was potted correctly, so I will definitely want to repot it if I have any hope of getting it to bloom. SavvyGardening.com has a really good guide for repotting orchids, that I will probably use. Oak Hill Gardens also has a lot of helpful information.

I read that I am supposed to repot the orchid in the spring, feed it over the summer, and after a few cold nights in the fall, hopefully it will bloom in fall or winter.

2 thoughts on “Foliage Friday: Orchids

  1. Good find! I’d pot each up in its own pot. Dracaena are super easy houseplants, I love their lack of fussiness. Sounds like you are on the right track with the orchid. I learned recently that when their roots are green, then they are saturated and gradually whiten as they dry out. Helpful to gauge when to water. Gray/brown are dead roots needing trimming. Good luck with your new site!

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