5 Things to Know About Orchids

Orchids are reporting techniques, if carefully followed, will enable you to keep these exotic and beautiful plants thriving and blooming season after season. If you look closely there are many good sources of information on this subject on Internet, as well as supplies for all the common varieties of these spectacular flowers.

Commercial potting mediums are species specific and are sold under the variety name. It is important that you know the kind of plant you have, since there may be other variables as well. However, the basics are fairly standard for all orchids.

There are several standard sizes of pots sold for these flowers, from two inches to ten inches in diameter. Plastic pots are preferred to retain moisture. However, the pots have more drainage holes in the bottom than conventional planters, since good drainage is vital to the health of orchids. Clear plastic pots are favored by many growers, to allow a good view of roots and moisture inside the pot.

The roots also have the ability to perform photosynthesis, making food from sunlight as leaves do, and the clear pots allow the roots to do this without growing up into the air. However, the classic orchid pot is made of white plastic, more rigid and completely opaque. Pots also are sold in colored plastics. Net pots are openwork pots that keep the planting medium around the roots while allowing free circulation of air and light, and perfect drainage.

When a plant begins to grow over the edges of its container, its roots will be getting crowded. Wait until the plant has stopped blooming before moving it to the next larger size pot. The plant will do best if it has more room but not too much. Young plants putting out vigorous new leaves will need shifting every six months or so.

Equipment needed for the job is simple: the proper potting mix (some orchids grow in plain sphagnum moss), a knife, clippers or scissors, and a slightly larger pot. The soil mix or moss should be soaked and drained, so it is wet but not soggy. Turning the plant upside down, gently squeeze the container sides or tap around it until the plant comes free. If it is stuck, run the knife around the inside of the pot to loosen it.

Once the plant is out, gently separate the roots to remove as much old soil as possible, being careful not to damage the roots. Orchid roots vary from thin and delicate to thick and green. Healthy ones are green or white with green tips and will be firm. Diseased or rotting roots will be brown and soft or even mushy. Clip off any softened roots, back to healthy tissue. The cut ends may be sprinkled with ground cinnamon to protect them from contamination.

To enhance drainage, first, place small stones or plastic peanuts in the bottom and cover them with potting mixture. Holding the plant in the middle of the pot, gently fill around the roots with the mix, packing it as you go. The rhizome should be level with the top of the soil. To secure the plant in the pot, you cause rhizome clips, stakes, or an installation ring. All these accessories are available online.

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