Orchid lighting with CFLs
I am having a problem with my orchids getting to bloom. I have a 9 foot wide east facing windowsill that tapers to a 6 foot large window with angled windows on the side. I had 3 60w grower's lightbulbs placed about 18-24" above the leaves. I live in Northern MIchigan and with the east orientation, winter,etc the temp gets to about 55-58 low in the wintertime to about 65-68 max. Obviously warmer in the summer but the light is actually less then with the surrounding trees leafing out. With this setup I haven't had any blooming in over a year, but some leaves are growing,as well as epiphytes.
I surmised this is not enough light, too cold or not enough of a temperature difference (I've read orchids need 20 degrees diff). My wife keeps telling me to be patient and wait. I've recently replaced the bulbs with 3 23W CFL bulbs and it is definitely brighter. A higher wattage light would painful to look at I think. Should the plants be closer to the lights? Also , the humidity runs about 30%, I've read about putting the pots in a clay saucer with gravel and H20 to increase the humidity. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm getting frustrated and thinking of moving the orchids to my basement with a fluorescent bulb set up and a flower shelf unit- or with cfl and/or incandescent bulbs hanging overhead. However, then I wouldn't be looking at the orchids daily. A tradeoff I guess. Thanks very much Daniel13