The orchid possesses an undeniably alluring beauty. Some estimates date the ancient origins of orchids well past 100 million years ago, making them among the oldest and biggest family of flowering plants in the world. In nature, there are over 30,000 species of orchids around the world, and well over 100,000 hybrids. With a wide range of colors, there’s an orchid for every taste and style.
In their natural setting, orchids actually don’t grow and thrive in soil like most plants; instead, orchids attach their roots to trees and rocks, getting nutrition from the natural moisture of the rainforest.
Receiving a gift orchid is a real treat. However, if you’ve never cared for an orchid before, you might not know how to proceed. Despite tens of thousands of varieties, gift orchids are most often one of two varieties: dendrobium and phalaenopsis.
Dendrobium. Dendrobium orchids have small flowers that bloom in rows. Stalks of this orchid emerge out of “canes” and have clusters of purple or white flowers. Its leaves are slender and grow from the sides of its canes.
Phalaenopsis. Phalaenopsis has larger, rounded flower petals with a more pronounced “lip.” Flowers are white, purple, pink, or a combination of these. Phalaenopsis flowers bloom from a single stalk rising from of a lush, green leaf bed.
Water Orchids Sparingly
Orchids in nature benefit from the ample aeration their roots receive when they attach to trees or rocks. However, most gift orchids are potted in moss in a plastic container, exposing them to risk of becoming over-watered. To manage these conditions, water your orchid very sparingly; in general, water it only when the potting medium feels dry. When in doubt, wait to water it for a day or two. Also, keep the stems, blooms and leaves of the plant dry when watering.
Avoid Temperature Extremes
Orchids don’t do well with extremes of any kind, so don’t place it where it could be subjected to direct sunlight, cold drafts, or very dry air. Orchids thrive in warm, mild, slightly humid conditions. They enjoy “filtered” light such as through window blinds or gauzy curtains.
Keep your gift orchid happy by using these tips, and its initial blooms will last for several weeks. Bonus tip: When the last bloom of your gift orchid falls away, you can cut it halfway down its stem and try for a “re-bloom” of the plant. Care for it as usual, water sparingly, keep it out of harsh conditions, and you just might receive the added bonus of another round of orchid blooms.