Saturday, 31 January 2015 19:35

The Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions about Orchids

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Are Orchids Difficult to Grow?

Orchids aren’t difficult to grow they just have particular requirements that are somewhat different from many other houseplants you may be familiar with. Thanks to modern orchid breeding, many of the orchids that are available for beginning orchid lovers are vigorous growers that are adaptable to a wide range of growing situations, and that bloom easily and frequently.

Selecting the right orchid for your conditions is one of the keys to success.

Why Should I Grow Orchids?

Many expert and amateur gardeners consider orchids to be the most beautiful and exotic members of the plant family. Orchids are a huge group of plants with diverse cultural requirements. This means that, no matter where you live, you can find a group of orchids that will suit your growing area. Also, because the flower forms, fragrances, and colors are so diverse, you can find an orchid to satisfy your taste.

Growing orchids is more than merely cultivating plants. You’ll be joining a fraternity of avid (if not fanatical) orchid people who share your interests. Soon you may become a member of an orchid society, and you may visit various orchid growers and attend orchid shows. You’ll form new friendships with others who share your passion. It’s said that, after you’re bitten by the orchid bug, there is no known cure. But what a wonderful affliction!

Do I Need a Greenhouse to Grow Orchids?

Absolutely not! Years ago, orchids were reserved for wealthy people who could afford elaborate greenhouses with an attending staff of professional horticulturists. Although a few of these places are still around today, most people now grow orchids on windowsills and under florescent lights. I’ve grown most of my orchids that way and have been pleased to produce plants and flowers that look as good as those grown in a greenhouse. So, don’t despair: If you have a sunny window or a place to set up some lights, you, too, can grow these beauties.

Are Orchids Expensive?

They don’t need to be. Sure, if you’re bound and determined, you can spend thousands of dollars on mature, awarded plants. But today you can buy blooming-size, fine-quality, healthy beginner orchids ranging in price from $20 to $30. This is less than the price of a flower arrangement from the florist, and an orchid’s flowers will usually last much longer. After the orchid is finished flowering, you still have a plant ready to bloom with even more flowers every year. They’re really quite the floral bargain.

How Long and How Often Will Orchids Bloom?

This varies, depending on the type of orchid. A few orchids only bloom a couple of days, but most will have flowers that last anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. Some with the longest lasting flowers are the slipper and moth orchids. Many orchids bloom once a year, while others can bloom two or three times a year.

What Makes an Orchid an Orchid?

When many people see orchids, they can’t imagine what so many diverse plants have in common that makes them all orchids. They look so different! You have to closely examine the flower for the answers. If you study the inner part of the flower, you’ll see a clublike structure that houses the male and female flower parts (stamens and pistils) called the column. All orchids have this unique structure. Most also have a large and conspicuous center petal called a lip.

Are Orchids Fragrant?

Not all orchids are fragrant, but many are. A wonderful aspect of orchid fragrance is their range of scents. Some smell like other flowers (carnations, jasmine, gardenia, rose), while others have the scents of spices and foods (vanilla, citrus, cloves, chocolate, coconut, licorice, honey, cinnamon, grapes).

Some orchids even reek! These are orchids that are pollinated by flies and other insects attracted to carrion (rotted meat). Fortunately, very few orchids fall in this category and they’re easy to pick out when selecting orchids from a grower’s greenhouse.

See the Cheat Sheet in the front of the topic for a list of some wonderfully fragrant orchids. And watch for the Fragrance icon throughout this topic to find orchids that have distinctive scents.

Are Any Orchids Hardy?

Most orchids (and all the ones described in this topic) are from tropical or semitropical areas and are intended to be grown as indoor houseplants in most of the United States. In warmer states, like parts of California, Texas, and Florida, some of these orchids can be grown outdoors with winter protection.

There are, however, other native orchids that can only grow well in very northern climates. The various lady’s slipper orchids are the ones most admired in this group. In fact, one of these, the Spotted Lady’s Slipper, is only found in the Yukon and Alaska!

Are Orchids Parasites?

Orchids are not parasites. Some people, who have seen orchids growing in the wild in the tropics, have noticed that many of them are attached to the limbs and trunks of trees, so they make the conclusion that, like mistletoe, orchids are parasites. Parasites, by definition, get their food at the expense of their host plants. This is not the case with orchids. They’re merely using the trees or shrubs as places to grow. Orchids are often found in the crotches of the limbs where water and nutrients from roosting birds naturally accumulate. Orchids have roots that can absorb these nutrients, and the high perches in the trees afford them plenty of moist air circulation, natural rainfall, and exposure to sunlight.


The Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions about Orchids on what-when-how, In Depth Tutorials and Information

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By Steven A. Frowine

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Other works by Steven A. Frowine


Miniature Orchids (


Fragrant Orchids: A Guide To Selecting, Growing, And Enjoying (


Orchids for Dummies  (


Moth Orchids - The Complete Guide to Phalaenopsis (


Growing Tropical Slipper Orchids Under Lights  (.pdf file free to download)(


This information is presented for educational and informational purposes only. This web site nor the NVOS itself claims any credit, nor profit from this presentation. The original writer can be contacted by following the hot link attributed to his name. Photos on original web site did not include any claim of copyright or claim of ownership therefore it is presumed that the original writer retains that copyright. In order to comply with source site's stated permission to reprint, we have included links back to the original article.

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