Orchid Fundamentals

At one time, most people assumed, perhaps with some cause, that cultivating orchids was an occupation only for the very affluent. These days, most people are aware that orchid cultivation is a pastime available to nearly anyone.Yet there is one other mistaken assumption that continues to be spread: that cultivating orchids is so hard it is almost not worth the effort. But this is definitely not so.

The truth is, many of the most astonishingly lovely orchid varieties are actually pretty easy to grow. All it requires is some foreknowledge, which may be learned easily from books, whether the printed kind or the digital kind that can be downloaded from the Web. If you live in a mild or warm climate, you will be able to grow many varieties outdoors, in your yard or garden. Even if you live in a cold climate, you can still grow lovely orchids in a greenhouse or any regular room that you can dedicate to the purpose.

Why grow orchids instead of other types of plants?If you have had any experience growing orchids, you would not need to ask the question. Orchids can grip us, infecting us with a sort of fever that never goes away once we catch it!

Regardless, here are a few answers to the question. One huge advantage of growing orchids as opposed to other flowering plants is their extreme showiness paired with the great length of time they will stay in bloom. Some orchids will continue in bloom for three or four months. A select few are even known to keep their blooms for as long as six months. Even if your collection of orchids is a small one, it is possible to have blooms the year around, due to the varying blooming seasons of different species.

The subject of orchids and orchid cultivation is an extensive one. You should dig deep into the subject, learning as much as you possibly can before acquiring your first plant. Nevertheless, there are a few basics you should know right off the bat. One of those basics is that orchids are divided into two great groups based on their growing habits.

One of the major orchid groups is the epiphytals. These are orchids that grow on the trunks or branches of trees. They are the air dwelling orchids, because they seemingly live on nothing but air and sunlight, though this of course is not actually true. It was these mysterious species that first grabbed the imaginations of collectors and resulted in the first great orchid mania of a more than a century ago. They are still the ones that most fascinate people today.

It should be noted that epiphytal orchids are not parasites. The get only a little of their sustenance from the tree bark on which they grow, and this doesn’t harm their hosts at all. They also pull nutrients from water, fungi and moss, as well as the decomposing leaves that sometimes get caught on them. Orchid growers love the epiphytals because of the fun–and sometimes challenge–of recreating their growing environment in a greenhouse or garden.
The other major orchid group is the terrestrials. As you probably can surmise, this type grows in soil like most plants with which we are familiar. Growing them requires potting, just as with any other familiar houseplant. Many of the most gorgeous varieites of orchids are to be found here.

Many orchid growers start out by concentrating on one of these two main groups of orchids. Invariably, though, they wind up cultivating at least a few varieties from both. It’s a good idea to learn about both kinds of orchids if you are serious about wanting to join the world of the orchid cultivators.

Today there exists an abudance of good, accurate information to be had by anyone who wants to grow orchids. The most complete guide to modern orchid care, it is widely acknowedged, is Orchid Care Expert by Nigel Howard, which can be downloaded over the Internet. Mr. Howard’s guide is a full education in itself, great for novices as well as the more experienced. Also, be sure to visit the Orchid Secrets web site, which has an ever-growing database of entries on all facets of orchid cultivation.

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