Gardening Vivian | 22 Jan 2010 12:06 pm

Orchids Made Easy For Beginners

Despite how stunning and complex they look, growing orchids isn’t rocket science. It is fairly easy for even the least horticultural-minded of us to make these elegant flowers thrive. Just keep it uncomplicated and follow the three steps below.

1. Choose Carefully

Make things easier for yourself by selecting one of the less demanding orchid varieties. The Cymbidium and the Phalaenopsis varieties are relatively less challenging than other kinds and available from good garden outlets.

Go for a healthy plant to capitalize on your success. Look for:

-Leaves that are glossy and bright green

-Stems that are green and budding

-Roots that are supple and fairly substantial. Healthy roots may have a grey coating. Beware of soggy roots.

Pay careful attention to the environment that the bloom is housed in before you buy it; those that are kept in compromised settings tend to have more problems later on.

2. Plant Prudently

It is best to use a specially designed vessel with perforations in the bottom that allow roots to be exposed to as much air as possible. Clear containers are best since they allow better root visibility so any problems with these can easily be seen later on. Terracotta holders are good because they soak up excess moisture thus preserving drier conditions required for survival.

Try to choose a pot that holds the roots well without compressing them. It is better to re-house in stages, rather than starting off with a big container.

Its important to plant in a specially formulated medium; ordinary soil simply won’t do because it is too dense and packs too closely around the roots thus starving them of air. This may consist of moss-material, foam and bark-chippings

3. Water Wisely

Knowing how often you need to water your plant will be a matter of trial and error in the early days. This depends mainly on the climate your plant is housed in coupled with the needs of that individual variety.

Generally orchids are less likely to flourish if over-watered so always water sparingly; test the dampness of the potting matter by poking your finger well down into it and only hydrate if this feels dried out. However, try not to overdo it as you could kill the plant.

It is best to water in the morning if possible to give the moisture more of a chance to be absorbed. Generally, you will only need to irrigate fortnightly in colder weather and twice weekly when it is warmer.

Rather than over-watering your plant, try to keep it in humid conditions to copy its natural habitat as closely as possible. Using a humidifier or strategically place a bowl of water nearby to help achieve this.

Remember, for most orchids it is quite normal to have dormant periods when they do not flower and look almost lifeless. Just keep an eye on the leaves as healthy looking ones indicate good health. So get planting and amaze yourself by how much magnificence and splendor you’ll cultivate.

Carl Harrison is an orchid enthusiast. For more great tips and advice on orchids for beginners, visit

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