How to plant new orchids. This is my first orchid and I wanted to plant it correctly since I had heard they are hard to grow. Here are the steps I used.
A few weeks ago my husband and I were shopping at Lowe’s, our favorite “date” spot. We find great ideas of how to fix up the house and the kids never want to come, so we get alone time! Woo hoo! He is quite the do-it-yourself-er and I happily oblige with a never-ending honey-do list for him. And I get to stroll through the garden center. My. favorite. place. EVER. No, that’s not quite true. My favorite place is the clearance section, tucked way in the back of the garden center. I have found some awesome plants there over the years for ridiculously great prices, and that is what happened this time. There were orchids.
I am terrified of orchids.
As I said, I love to garden. And most everything survives. Sometimes I’ve planted something that wasn’t in the right light or the soil was too wet, but I’ve always heard that orchids were very difficult to grow. So, until now I have avoided them.
But there was the tiny little orchid plant. The leaves were green, but there were no flowers and the roots were terribly shriveled up and dry. The healthy, blooming, gorgeous ones in the “nice” section were $12-14. This little guy? $3! How could I say no! And besides, said my ever-helpful spouse, if it dies, you’re only out $3…
So, here is my little guy when I brought it home. Just like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, huh?
I read up on watering them, and it said that although orchids don’t like to have “wet feet” by being in standing water for a long time, it’s okay to put the whole basket in a bowl of water for about 5 to 10 minutes to really let the roots get a good drink. What a difference! Look at the roots now – green! There is hope!
By the way, the tag said it was a V. PAT DELIGHT-PINK. After some research, I discovered this meant it is a Vanda Pat Delight Pink, and this is what the flowers look like. Gorgeous!
Hanging Basket Vs. Pot
So, we bought a hanging orchid basket and orchid bark because many people plant their orchids this way, especially here in Florida. Orchids love our high humidity, and many orchids aren’t even planted in any medium at all. So, that was what I was going to do. Here is my set up:
However, my lanai faces south and my plants get afternoon sun (and it’s hot now – 90s every day all summer). The only other logical outdoor space would be hanging next to my staghorn fern in a tree in the backyard, but we wouldn’t see it. What’s the point of having an orchid if you can’t see it!?! Although, I did read that if your staghorn fern is doing good, that spot is also a great one for your orchids. Just FYI. But if it had exposed roots, I would still have to traipse out there to water it every day, and I didn’t want to have to do that.
Decision: Plant new orchids in pots.
So, after reading that orchids can be grown in a pot with orchid bark, I decided, for now, to plant it in a pot and have it inside on the desk in my office, the only room (other than my son’s) that faces east. My African violets do terrific there, so it should be good. If it looks like it isn’t doing so good, I will take it out to the lanai. I do think the trick is to find the right spot for it and then just let it be. By the way, I know some people think African violets are hard to grow, but I have lugged my ancient plants back and forth to Michigan from Florida and they have done just fine. Here is a post I wrote on how I grow my violets: How to (finally!) not be a plant killer!
Here’s what I did:
I had an empty pot handy, but it was very deep and had no drainage holes.
So, I put a small plastic pot upside down in the bottom so the roots wouldn’t ever sit in standing water.
Then I added orchid bark so it completely covered the small pot.
When it was about an inch from the top, I set the orchid in. I thought I would break off the roots trying to get them out of the basket, but since they were now full of water, they were very pliable and it was pretty easy to ease them out of the basket holes.
Next was simply covering up the roots with more orchid bark. (By the way, you can see how humid it is already at 10 am by looking at the sliding glass door!)
We had noticed that the “nice” plants at Lowe’s had stakes holding up the flower stems, and my little guy sure looked like it could use some help, too. I know they make orchid stakes just for that purpose, but we didn’t have one, so for now, I simply cut and bent a wire coat hanger, poked it down to the bottom of the pot and loosely tied the stem to it with a twistie-tie. It worked great.
So, here is my orchid, sitting on my desk, as I type. It doesn’t look like it in the picture, but it is a very sunny spot. Sorry for the dog and cat photobombs, but they hang out in here when I’m working 🙂
I will keep you updated on the orchid’s progress, but it has survived so far. I would love to hear how you plant new orchids, your orchid stories or advice!
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