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Houseplant Spotlight: Orchid

houseplant of the week plant of the week

Orchids are part of the Orchidaceae family - one of the two largest families of flowering plants! They are used for many things, chief among them being perfume fragrance, an addition to the world of competitive gardening, and a particular species which provides the seed pods we know as Vanilla. Orchidaceae are tropical plants with compact root balls. This is because, like the Staghorn Fern, they are epiphytic, meaning they grow out of the “armpits” of tree branches in tropical forests. So if you’ve ever seen a large, flowering orchid at the grocery store, flourishing in  a teensy tiny pot, that's why!

 

 

While orchids grow just fine on their own in the wild, they are a notoriously high-maintenance plant to keep in the home. (This is why, while I admire their beauty, you’ll never see one in the Wild Hare shop.) The glossy, green leaves of the foliage are quite easy to keep happy, but if you want your orchid to flower….buckle up. Orchids love humidity, so keep a spray bottle handy. If you’re lucky enough to have a window in your bathroom, your orchid will love the humidity of the shower! These plants are sensitive to being overwatered, so be careful of how frequently you water them; many indoor gardeners will advise you to simply set an ice cube on top of the soil every few days to ensure continuous moisture. And because orchids are used to growing under a canopy of tropical trees, they’ll require just the right amount of light, too! Try to replicate the dappled sunlight one might see on a tropical forest floor: bright, but indirect. Oh, and did I mention they need to be fertilized regularly? Experienced orchid-growers know to use a little bit of fertilizer every week.

The motto is “fertilize weakly, weekly”.

Now, the real question most people have is, “but how do I get my orchid to bloom again?” The key here is light! The deep green color of other houseplant leaves is not what you’re looking for here. In order for orchids to have enough light to bloom, they need enough light to turn their leaves more of a lighter green, or even yellow. Keep your light source indirect, but bright. 

Happy Gardening!


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