Ok Orchid lovers! Which can handle dry and which need humidity?

meyermike_1micha(5)January 24, 2012

I was hoping that someone whom is very well versed in Orchids and in love with them of course, could help understand which ones would do best for us up in the north:-)

Let's clear a few things up, or if someone could tell us here which Orchids could handle a house environment verses need for humidity and or greenhouse?

Which Orchids absolutely need humidity to thrive?

Which orchids need a greenhouse to thrive?

Which orchids can thrive or grow pefectly fine in a heated drier home enviroment through the winter?

Has anyone had exepriences with growing happy orchids in any of these environmebnts? I am particularly interested in ones that can grow very well in a typical dry air home enviironment?

I have a room that stays cool and a bit on the humid side with and very bright.

Then I have the rest of the house which is dry and cool which stays in teh 60's all winter.

Thank you.

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I hope you get lots of answers on this topic, because I just bought a cool mist humidifier to put on the floor next to my rack of orchids. This room is open to the rest of the house, so the humidifier benefit might be dissipated.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 9:01AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls


It's kind of a difficult question to answer and sometimes it's just a matter or trial and error. Generally speaking (and only generally speaking), thicker, waxier type flowers have a better chance of surviving in lower humidity - like Paphs, Phals, Catts etc. However in a low humidity environment, the buds could blast before they even open. You should also tell us what the humidity in your house is like.

I live in a cold climate and unfortunately my orchid interests are with the cloud forest types - those that generally come from cool and very humid environments. My temps are just great for these types, but humidity during the winter is a problem. As you probably know, high humidity in a house, in cold climate can cause all sorts of structural problems - like mold or rotted windows from water vapor condensing on the glass. Believe me, I've dealt with them all.

This winter, I've been experimenting with humidity just to see how high I have to go to get buds to open without blasting. Again, I grow the high humidity types. I've had a few surprises. For instance, the flower in the photo below is barely - 1/4 inch across. You would think it would need really high humidity. It flowered just fine at 30%.

The next one with much larger flowers, kept blasting every bud until I increase the humidity to a minimum of 40%. I now keep the levels in the 45-50 % range during the day and down to 40% at night and everything is just fine. Most literature out there suggests 60% or higher for this type of orchid, but the lower levels are working for me.

Again, I just had to do some experimenting to see what worked. Just one more thought: Orchids need good air circulation and almost everyone suggests using fans to keep the air moving. Be careful with them in a dry environment. It can make a not-so-good environment even worse because of the drying effect of the moving air. I've had problems with bud blast because of fans blowing directly on the plants. Sometimes it's better to aim the fans slightly above the plants. They still provide air movement, but in a more indirect way.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 3:30PM
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Mike, you're asking a bit much. Given that there are 25,000 orchids, coming up with a list of indoor vs. greenhouse plants is something of a daunting task. In addition, a plant might work indoors but you might not have the proper amount of light for it, making it not a houseplant for you. On top of those, plant x might be grown indoors by some, but others will only be able to grow it successfully by growing in a greenhouse. Might I suggest that instead of a blanket "what grows indoors?", you find plants you are interested in and post here to get opinions on them specifically? This way you get tailor-made advice that works specifically for you!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 6:50PM
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James AKA lumpy_j

So I just figured out how to post a photo, anyway
This is my sun room, its the same environment as the rest of my house aside from the windows which make the room warm on sunny days and cooler at night. I have about 100 orchids mixed in with other house plants. The plants in the room keep the humidity up but gets down to 20% in the winter. The other photo is of my Zygo which I have in a semi hydro pot to keep the moisture up at the roots. I have about 10 plants potted this way but most are in bark. I water 90% of the plants once a week a couple a little more a couple a little less. Other than a ceiling fan I don't do anything special. There are thousands of orchids that can grow in the home in a sunny spot. It would be easier if you figure out what you like in terms of size, color, fragrance, etc, then look for info on specific plants.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 8:58PM
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Well I'm only a novice with only having about 13 orchids. Most of mine here in South Central PA are phals only because of humidity in the winter. I also have one bulbophyllum gracillimum, one seidenfadenia mitrata, and one Masdevallia tinkbells orchid. Currently the humidity levels are around 30 percent and All of my orchids are growing well. I keep all my orchids is a west facing windows with bright indirect light and I usually never have a fan run. The only air circulation I rely on, is when my furnace kicks on to keep my house at 70 degrees. Also i only water the phals once every seven days, and my other orchids that are mounted get watered every day with a spray bottle. In the last 7-8 years I've never changed anything. As other people have already mentioned, you will have to experiment with orchids to see what works best in your conditions.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 9:44PM
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Good advice given here. One other point, I grew my orchids in a large living room with high ceilings. It was impossible to keep humidity levels up in winter. I used some steam vaporizers near by and ran them 24/7. They barely raised the humidity as the room was too big and the windows leaky.

Crowding my plants together did a better job. Everything was on drip trays and my orchids and dirt plants created a micro-climate by spending the winter together.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 11:50PM
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Yes, I REALLY appreciate the support and parcipitation of everyone here.

I love the photos too. I never realized that so many of you had such beautiful plants. Thank so much.

Maybe we should start a new thread with just everyone's photos? That would be very nice.


I had no idea you had so many and all looking healthy to me in your environment! Is there any way you could make a list of some of them for me and the reason why you like them? Do you like some of them for their unique flower, ease of growth, or leaf formations?

Great job! I shall have to see some of your citrus too:-)

Yet, another thread I plan on saving.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 1:05PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Mike, sorry I can't be of assistance re: species preferences.

I will tell you that the members of this Forum take full advantage of the Orchid Gallery.
That's why you don't see as many images posted in Threads here (if you were wondering).


    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 1:37PM
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Well Josh, that is fantastic news.

I shall have to take a look there. No wonder there isn't that many posting photos. Good point.
But still, I can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve:-)

Thanks buddy!


    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 2:36PM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

For me, cattleyas grow just fine. In the winter they are on a table in front of my south facing picture window. Just below the window is a hot air vent, which blows all winter. Though it's closed, the hot air comes out anyway.
The whole house has hot air heat and is as dry as the Sahara.

Underneath the pots are trays of stones which get wet everytime I water, and when I remember I spray the leaves. They seem to grow fine during the winter, and often I'm blessed with blooms.

There are LC's, BLC's, Potinaras and a rhyncholaelia. Some are full size, some semi's and some mini's. They all seem to grow okay.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 3:48PM
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James AKA lumpy_j

A few of my favorites and why I like them. The first one I've only had for 2 years the rest were plants I got as a beginner and were some of the first plants I was able to flower.

BLC Golden Tang Bloomed 3 times this year, nice fragrance. I water once a week, it gets crunchy dry in between.
Renanthera Tom Thumb- Lots of flowers the first vanda type I was able to bloom
Encyclia Alata - lots of flowers slight fragrance, bloomed for me as a beginner.
Neostylis Lou Sneary small plant about the size of my hand, slight fragrance tolerant of different temps and watering

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 9:27PM
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Lumpy, my goodness! They are beautiful! And such good reason to like them.
Please show me more if you get time! Even if they are not in flower, just a few your having good success with in your growing conditions! It sounds like they are a lot like mine.
I see a LOT of green ones in your sunny room What are some of them if you don't mind and have you had luck with them? Do any have a fragrance you like?

Goodness the orange colors and these white ones on the last pic leave me speechless Lumpy! Nice! Thank you so much:-)

Lumpy............That Golde Tang hanging from the ceiling. Does it require high light and how do you provide it if it is hanging from the ceiling? Does it require warm temps too? It gorgeous!

Orchid:It sounds like your having success with drier conditions too. Wonderful:-)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:18PM
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James AKA lumpy_j

Usually when I have something flowering I move it to another spot in the house for display. The Golden Tang I hung from the ceiling fan to take the picture. Its normal spot is in a very sunny south window in the winter and hanging in a cherry tree in the summer. Only 10 to 20% of my orchids are in flower at any given time depending on the cycle of the plant so most of the room is green.
To be fair I have plenty of plants I'm still trying to figure out.
I have 10 dendrobiums only 2 flower regularly.
I buy a psychopsis every year and loose it.
Areangis citrata and sedieria japonica never any luck.
Masdevallia many casulties. I had one slipper orchid, Phrag. caudatum do well and flower then I knocked it off a high shelf onto another plant. Cymbiduims never did well for me until I switched from tap water to collecting rain water now I have 3 doing well.
All of the cattleya type hybrids (BLC, LC, etc)seem to do well in a wide range of conditions and many are fragrant. Also anything with a winter rest period seems to do well in our area.
Some of the plants I can't grow people say are easy. I've lost some phals. which are supposed to be orchid 101, and on the other hand I have a vanilla vine that I picked 20 beans off of this fall so go figure. So experiment with stuff, which for me is the fun part, I'm sure you will find many plants that like you as much as you like them.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 8:32AM
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Wow Lumpy, much more than I expected and thank you for that!
Yes, I am trying to get a feel for what works for certain people in their conditions that almost mimick mine in which it seems that yours might.
I have also talked to others that seem to have great success with the orchids you mentioned in dry household conditions.

I am grafitating towards dendrobiums and especially the fragrant ones. They had soem growing at an Orchid home in the same exact environment and even better I suppose in a greenhouse flourishing.

Do you mist that one you have hanging from the ceiling everyday? I think I remeber you saying something like that. That is dedication and good hard work that I see is paying off. It does take committment I think for these types of plants:-)

I am in love with the one that Jane posted and I am also trying a few others. I have been told that I might really like Cattleya and from how you describe them, I am going to try a couple.
*****Do you know of any that have a strong sweet fragrance?

Lumpy, I LOVE looking at all your plants. You have an amazing collection and all so green. I will derive some ideas from you and I really appreciate the feed back!

When I have more time I am coming back to take a closer look and see if you have added anything. This is fun:-)


    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 10:19AM
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James AKA lumpy_j

Honestly I find the more I remove myself from the care of my plants the better they do. I've tried so many things like humidifiers, heaters, grow lights, I even bought a misting system for amphibians and built a glass case for some plants. It all got to time consuming and costly to keep up so finally just went with the room at its normal light, temperature and humidity. I devote one morning a week which is Sunday from 6AM to 9AM to watering, if I have time I water a few plants again on Wednesday.
I use a pump sprayer to water so I can control the water flow. I like to spray a small amount of water over a longer period of time instead of dumping water into the pot and having it spill right out the bottom. I feel this gives more time to let the roots soak up water. For plants in standard pots I will even put my finger over the drainage hole for a minute to be sure everything is saturated. MOunted plants and plants in baskets I will soak in a bucket of water for 5 minutes or so. You have to change the water between plants to prevent spreading bugs or disease. I use the waste water for my dirt plants.
For plants that don't like to be dry I use semi hydroponic pots with hydroton as a media, I also have switched some plants to hydroton as the media in regular pots. Sometimes its hard to find good potting bark, I find a lot of places store their potting media outside where it gets wet and breaks down so if the bag isn't clear I don't buy it.
As for suggestions on fragrant plants I like Zygopetalums are great, the scent can fill the room. I like the BLC Tangs and LC love knot are good because the bloom a few times a year. Brassavola Nodosa and Angracums are nice because they are fragrant at night. Check out the Oakhill gardens site. They have a list of fragrant plants , I also see they have a Angracum Sesquipedale in seedling size.
Good luck

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 10:21AM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

I love BLC Golden Tang! Mine also bloomed several times a year and is a vigorous grower. It starts out Vibrant yellow/orange and then gradually turned to copper. Beautiful!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 3:05PM
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Hey Mike,

I browsed through Oak Hill Gardens, 'Lumpy posted.' Come spring, I'm going to give them a try.

Jane, don't know if you're around, but Hello!

Thanks Lumpy... Toni

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 3:43PM
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