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Orchids – Floral Beauty Indoors

12 January 2018  
Snippet: How to re-pot, fertilize, and care for orchids. Best containers and soil for orchids. How to prune and grow orchids.

Good, successful gardeners think like the plants they are growing. This is especially true when growing orchids indoors.

Orchids are native to tropic regions of Asia and Australia, such as the Himalayas and Philippines. In Asia, the Chinese adopted the term "butterfly orchid" to describe the aesthetics of this particular flower. The Greek name for orchids is "Phalaenopsis", officially derived from the terms "phalaina" and "opsis" meaning "moth-like."

In tropical climates, Phalaenopsis orchids tend to grow on tree branches and between rocks, usually near a source of water. Besides a rainforest climate, orchids also are found in grassland areas like pastures. Orchids can adapt to many different types of environments, which is one of the reasons they are so easy to maintain! Duplicate these plants' natural environments and they will thrive indoors.

Orchid examples on Watters Pinterest Page (Follow for more updates)

Optimal Growing Conditions for Orchid Plants

~ Bright light, but not direct late-afternoon sunlight, although Dendrobiums can handle more sun

~ High humidity

~ Turbulent airflow around the roots

~ Regular periods of drying out, alternating with drenching watering

~ Surrounding temperatures should range between 50 degrees F and 85 degrees F

The closer an orchid's indoor growing area comes to duplicating these conditions, the more successful the plant and the larger its blooms.

Orchid roots are highly-specialized organs designed to soak up water very quickly and to breathe freely. However, most store-bought orchids come packaged in cheap plastic pots with the roots packed in soaked moss. This violates two of the main rules of successful growth: There is no air flow around the roots, and the roots are never given a chance to dry out completely. Thus, the plant cannot breathe so root rot is inevitable. Repotting your orchid from this suffocating packaging is essential.

Repotting for Success

The first step in repotting an orchid is: Don't attempt to re-pot an orchid in bloom.

After blooming is finished, cut off the spent flower spike and repot the plant. Orchids should be planted into specialized orchid pots using a potting soil unique for orchids. Orchid potting soil is usually composed of several chunky ingredients that may include pine bark, charcoal, and even styrofoam! Several different sizes of orchid pots and the special soil are sold here at Watters Garden Center.

Orchid pots feature wide drainage slits, so water can run out freely from the bottom and the sides of the pot. As an out of bloom orchid plant isn't much to look at, choose a colorful, decorative container; a pretty pot provides beauty to detract from the plant's unsightly bareness.

Photo by Annie Spratt, from Unsplash

Repotting your newly purchased orchid, follow these steps:

~ Remove the plant from the plastic pot and carefully lift off as much of the moss as possible. Healthy roots should be white and firm, with a small green growing point.

~ Cut away any shriveled, rotten, or blackened roots.

~ Set the plant into the pot and fill in around it with orchid potting soil. The plant should be firmly situated, but it will not be anchored entirely. Eventually, new roots will grow into the potting soil and attach to the pot itself, thus securing the plant.

~ Ideal orchid pot placement is in an east-facing window with a few hours of mild morning sun.

~ To provide humidity and catch run-off water place the planted container in a wide, deep tray or plate and fill with gravel. Allow water to drip into the tray; the gravel holds the plant up out of the water.

Photo by Dominik Vanyi, from Unsplash

Proper Orchid Care

Caring for an orchid is simple. During the summer months water weekly and heavily. Let the water drench the roots and fill up the pebble tray; this provides the extra humidity the plant needs in summer.

It doesn't hurt to put the pot in a few inches of water in the sink and let the plant really soak up the hydration it needs. This is especially important before an extended time away from the plant. Don't worry about submitting an orchid to this technique; a deep soaking won't kill the plant as long as it's allowed to dry out thoroughly.

During the growing season, feed weekly with a dilute solution of Watters 'Flower Power 54' plant food.

In winter keep the orchid warm and cut back watering to once a month or so. Mist it every so often to make sure it stays hydrated. Don't fertilize in mid-winter.

If you see signs of distress, such as yellowing, wrinkled leaves, or no blooms, move the plant and keep tweaking its growing conditions. Once an orchid finds a happy spot and falls into a routine, the plant regularly will throw out new roots, leaves, and canes, depending on the variety, and show beautiful fresh blooms year after year.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska, from Unsplash

Until next week, I'll be helping local gardeners with their orchids here at Watters Garden Center.


2018 Spring Garden Classes

January 20: Best and Most Beautiful Houseplants

Instructor: Lisa Lain

We believe plants make people happier, and not just outside our homes, but inside, too! Houseplants brighten our homes and our lives, and even clean the air we breathe, but not all are created equal when growing in an arid climate like ours. You'll have a list of the top houseplants best grown indoors and how to care for them. Learn best practices for watering, light placement, and how to treat and prevent pests and diseases that can affect your indoor garden. Free.

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

January 28: Wildflowers: Ready, set, grow!

Instructor: Lora Goulding

Late winter is the ideal window to start wildflower seed outdoors, but you can't just chuck them in the landscape and expect success. We share all the local tips that ensure these bloomers blossom beautifully. You'll know the best seed, soils, food, and techniques that bring on the color this spring. Come early, this class can be standing room only. Free.

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

February 3: Advanced Landscape Pruning for Garden Success

Instructor: Ken Lain & Grant Tibbetts

Timing is critical for the plants in your yard that need pruning. We'll share timely techniques for our mountain climate that are sure to make the yard happy, bloom better and reduce disease this spring. Guest instructor and arborist Grant Tibbetts from Jonny's Tree & Landscaping shares his knowledge about our local trees to help yours thrive, be more healthy, and look great! Free

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

February 10: Controlling Gophers and Other Annoying Animals

Instructor: Ken Lain

If you let these pests gain a foothold in the garden, they're nearly impossible to clear out. Gophers, rabbits, deer, javelina, and packrats can wreak havoc on our gardens and destroy all our hard work in mere seconds. Learn all the secrets to keeping these bothersome beasts at bay using both natural and man-made methods, and which plants are less appealing to their appetites. This free class fills up early so bring a cup of coffee, a notepad and get ready to fight back! Free.

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

February 17: Gardening for Newcomers

Instructor: Doug Arthur and Michele Hyatt

New to northern Arizona or just new to gardening? This class is Gardening 101 for everyone hoping to turn a brown thumb green. Learn all the mountain secrets to local garden success from soil preparation and planting to watering and fertilizing. This is an information-packed class guaranteed to increase garden blooms and fruit this year. The first 10 students to bring $10 and a soil sample receives a pH soil test done on-site with advice on how to improve the garden. You'll know exactly what to do this year to make your garden the envy of the neighborhood! Free.

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

February 24: Fruit Trees from Planting to Pruning

Instructor: Ken Lain & Grant Tibbetts

Learn the insider's tips from the pros who know varieties, planting techniques, food, and more. We cover local success stories and best practices for healthy, happy fruit trees that produce your best harvest ever! Guest instructor and arborist Grant Tibbett from Jonny's Tree & Landscaping will be on hand to explain when and how to prune your trees to stimulate stronger, more vigorous growth and have a higher fruit yield. Dress for the weather and bring garden shoes, there is a working demonstration that includes a walk-through of the garden center after the class. Free.

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .

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Ken Lain, the Mountain Gardener

Ken Lain is attracted to sunshine, beauty, happiness, success and health through gardening, and wishes to point the way to others. Throughout the week Ken can be found at Watters Garden Center located at 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd, Prescott, or contacted through his web site at www.wattersgardencenter.com

Website: www.wattersgardencenter.com