I've done it. Brought a orchid. Now what?

qrper(5)December 11, 2010

Boys and girls...

My wife thought she was doing me a favor and brought me a "ice orchid' at one of the big box stores.

I'm not sure how you say it, but it translates from latin to


Now, I've didn't just fall off of the turnip truck, and I know that using ice to water any plant is a death sentence. OR? Am I really missing something here?

I have a 22 by 10 foot lean to greenhouse and just upped the temp to 58ish or so.

So... what can I grow in my greenhouse, orchid wise?

I don't know what they are, can't pronounce their names, and they all look interesting. It's hard to choose what to begin with.

Brought a dummies for orchid book and still confused.

Plenty of light, I'm in ohio zone 5, south facing greenhouse, and if the gas bill dosen't go out of sight, may try 60 night time temp

So... my Phalaenopsis seems to like higher night time temps, so it's hiding in my office. To bad, too, as one of the cats knocked it off the table and broke off a flower stem. I have one flower and four buds now.

All that being said,

Today I went to one of the larger garden centers and brought home a

brassolaeliacattleya-------wow. I can't pronounce that either.

Got it for $15, it's out of bloom, but it seemed very healthy (to me)

so... what in the world have I gotten myself into?

Help me before I'm pulled over into orchid world.

Ooh, what am I getting myself into?

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cody_mi(z5 MI)

58 is surprisingly fine for most intermediate/cool growers. mine is set at 55 and i grow phalaenopsis, cattelya intergenerics, oncidiums, neostylus, lc, angraecum, coryanthes, stanhopea, etc.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2010 at 8:42PM
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dragon_kite(z6 NYC)

If you're posting here, I've got bad news for you: you've already been pulled into the orchid world.

Good news: we'll make your descent into this obsession a pleasureable experience.

Lemme just add cymbidiums and zygopetalums to the great list Cody posted.

Welcome to the addiction.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2010 at 9:21PM
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donaldb(5B Worcester, MA)

Welcome and enjoy this forum and do not give your "phal" ice by all means.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 11:16AM
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Thanks for the warm welcome.

Naw... icing any plant didn't seemed like a good idea

the information on line is simply overwhelming. Going to need some time to put any sort of program together.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 11:49AM
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dragon_kite(z6 NYC)


I know what you mean about all that info online. Helpful in a general strutural kind of way but utterly useless in growing OUR orchids in OUR environment with OUR daily habits.

This is what works for me, maybe it may be of some help to you:

Just buy whatever you want to grow, regardless of temps, lighting, etc. Just buy it and put it on the windowsill/greenhouse/where ever you plan on growing it. (Make sure it has healthy roots). Then observe it. If it starts to shrivel or go limp, water it. Next time, water it a day earlier to prevent shrivelling. If you go one like this for a few weeks and you haven't killed it, congrats, you can grow this orchid.

If it starts to go downhill, I'd tinker with increasing or decreasing the amount of light it's getting first, then work on rising/lower temps.

Books and online info can only get you so far. There is so much more knowledge that comes from growing/killing/agonizing over them.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 7:39PM
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ifraser25(z11 Brazil)

I don't want to be a nag, but you need to remember that orchids are not all alike and Cattleyas need different growing conditions to Phals. A little knowledge is not always a dangerous thing...

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 9:48PM
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Yes, know that. Got the cats because they are supposed to like the lower temps. The phal is still in the office.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 10:15PM
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richardol(Santa Royale CA)

Temperature is important, but less so than 1) light level 2) watering/feeding.

Get the Ortho book "All About Orchids". It is a great beginner guide and lets you know the basics.

Your greenhouse could go down to mid-forties at night if it gets above 60 in the day time. Intermediate orchids will winter quite well in that range if they are kept dry.

I am willing to pay for the heating and have warm to hot growing plants, so my base is 60 and heated to at least 70 in the day.

Here is a link that might be useful: blog.backbulb.com

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 10:27PM
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whitecat8(z4 MN)

Note - punctuation may be weird cuz this was copied and pasted from a Word doc.

Hi Mike. Welcome to the forum and to orchids.

A quick note - a lot of people start in orchids like Steph/Dragon Kite describes - seeing what will grow for you.

Different orchids need way different growing conditions, as ifraser mentioned. Another approach is to figure out the environment you can provide for an orchid and look for orchids that will most likely thrive in it. Basic environment elements are light, temperature ranges, watering methods, and air circulation. Most people's homes are suitable for Phals.

The nickname of your 1st orchid is Phal, pronounced FAIL, just as the label says.

One book that's helped boatloads of new orchid folks is "Ortho's All About Orchids." Check Amazon for the paperback. A couple of weeks ago, it was $2.70 + shipping.

Another good resource is the AOS (American Orchid Society) site. One section is "Now That I Have This Plant, What Do I Do With It?"

On that page is a link to ORCHIDS 101, the AOS "quick start guide to orchid culture." You can sign up for their free beginner's newsletter.

These aren't the only good resources, but tons of orchid books and online resources have info that's just plain wrong, and as you said, it can be overwhelming. Some of the bad info's harmless, but some of it could compromise the health of your orchid.

On this forum, opinions on culture differ, even among experienced growers. That's part of the challenge - finding out what works for your orchids.

A couple of other basics:

1. Your orchid may have come in a plastic pot inside a decorative outside pot. Or the plastic pot may have festive paper around it. Be sure that inner orchid pot has drainage holes in the bottom, so water can drain.

Also, make sure your orchid pot never sits in water. That means, if you keep any outside pot or paper for the pot, the orchid must drain completely before you put it back in the decorative whatever.

2. If your water is softened, you'll need another source of water for your orchid. The salts will kill the orchid.

3. Most orchid deaths are caused by over watering. You may know that, in the wild, Phals usually grow on the trunk or branch of a tree with their roots bare. The roots get water and nutrients when it rains, and breezes keep them from staying wet too long, keep bugs away, etc.

Our challenge is to create an environment close enough to the wild that the orchid will thrive. Pots and potting media - usually bark or moss - are for our convenience.

At first, all the info may seem yes - overwhelming - it sure has for thousands of people who became successful hobbyists. In the near future, terms will begin sounding familiar (they may already). You're launched! :)

Let us know when more questions come up.


Here is a link that might be useful: Now That I Have This Plant, What Do I Do With It?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 10:37PM
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