Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Caring for Orchids in Their New Home

Bringing an orchid plant into its new home can be traumatic for both the plant and you! You have to get to know each other. Most orchids you buy will have come from a very high-light, high-humidity environment of a commercial greenhouse. You bring them into your home environment, which is usually less bright with lower humidity, so the plant has to make some adjustments. Doing this with the least amount of distress is your goal, and in this section, I help you get there.

In Chapter 5, I give you the details of routine orchid care, but here I want to give you some tips that will make the short-term transition easier for both of you.

If the plant is in bloom
Here are some tips that will make the flowers on your new orchid last longer:
  1. Place the plant somewhere in your house that’s bright, but where it won’t get direct sunlight, except possibly in the morning. Too much harsh sunlight can bleach out the flowers.
  2. Keep the plant on the cool side — not above about 75°F (about 24°C). Flowers stay fresher longer this way.
  3. Be sure to keep the plant well watered. Even though the orchid plant stops growing much when it’s in bloom, theleaves and flowers still need water.
  4. Don’t let any bees or flies in the room where your orchids are blooming. If the bees or flies pollinate them, the flowers will collapse afterward.
  5. Don’t put the plant close to ripe fruit. Fruit gives off ethylene gas, which can cause flowers to collapse prematurely.
  6. Keep your orchid plants away from strong fumes like paint thinners or other pollutants. These can cause the blossoms to fade.
  7. Don’t spray the flowers with water or place the blooming plant in a room that is highly humid with no air movement. This can cause spotting on the flowers from fungal diseases.
If the plant is not in bloom
Before you add your new, not-yet-blooming orchid to your collection, follow these tips:
  1. Look under the leaves and at the younger growth to make sure there are no bugs.
  2. To be on the safe side, isolate this new plant from your collection for at least three weeks. This will allow time for hidden insect eggs to hatch out.
  3. As a further precaution, spray the plant thoroughly with an insecticidal soap. Use a paper towel to wipe off the excess spray. This will not only kill any soft-bodied insects but will also clean the leaves.
  4. Consider repotting the orchid into your own potting mix. That way you’ll be assured that the potting mix is fresh and you’ll know its watering requirements.

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