Agnes Wolf has two beautiful orchid plants blooming in her home. The white orchid plants (there are two plants in this pot) was a Christmas gift in 2013, and currently has 19 blossoms.  The lavender plant, a gift at Christmas 2014, has 16 blossoms.

Orchids are welcoming, elegant addition to home

Agnes Wolf had her first experience with orchids when she received a beautiful plant as a Christmas gift.

 For many people, their first gift orchid is the beginning of a long-term love affair with these exotic flowers, and that is the case with Agnes. Today she has a couple of beautiful, thriving orchid plants in her home. They’ve been blooming since Christmas.

“That’s what I like about orchids,” said Agnes during a recent interview.  “They last for several months, at least three months for sure.”  

Orchids really don’t deserve their reputation for being difficult or fussy plants to grow, according to Agnes.

Among the easiest to care for as houseplants are species and named cultivars of Phalaenopsis (also known as moth orchids). These plants have round flowers with a pronounced lip that grow on a single tall stalk arising from a whorl of fleshy, oval leaves. Flowers are usually white, purple or pink, or some combination thereof.

All orchids need good light, but they cannot stand much of the heat which usually accompanies high light intensities. Agnes has achieved success by putting her orchids in a south-facing window and drawing sheer curtains across them.  If daytime temperatures exceed 90 degrees, its advisable to move plants to a cooler window such as an east-facing exposure. It’s doubtful whether orchids would bloom in a north window.

Besides failing to bloom when night temperatures are too high, orchids will not bloom if light levels are too low or too high. Low light is often accompanied by the presence of dark green foliage. Too much light may result in leaves that are pale yellow-green and bleached looking.

Watering is one of the most important aspects to keeping the orchid plant flourishing and in bloom for months, says Agnes. She waters her single plant with one-fourth cup of water once a week (the amount equal to two ice cubes); and one-half cup of water once a week for the double plant. The orchids should not be allowed to dry out completely between waterings. How often to water will depend on how bright their growing conditions, humidity and temperature. Always use room temperature or barely lukewarm water that will not shock the orchids’ roots, and avoid softened water if at all possible.

Temperature is also important for indoor orchid care.   “Orchids don’t like it cold,” Agnes says. While orchids tolerate cooler or warmer temperatures throughout their normal growing season, they need to be about 15 degrees cooler at night than during the day in order to bloom sufficiently.

“I don’t fuss about them,” Agnes said.  Orchids require little care once all their basic needs are met such as light, temperature, and humidity, she concluded.

Springfield Advance-Press

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