It is not so long ago, that growing orchids was a hobby that could only be done by a selective wealthy group of people. Orchids were exclusive, expensive and difficult to breed. Improved breeding techniques, new augmentation methods and increasing incomes made it possible to for the orchid to become a horticulture product that is no longer restricted to the “happy few”.
Small glass houses were erected in private gardens and lots of experiments started. There are however many people that live in a flat or can otherwise not afford their own glass house. But even for these people, it has proven to be possible to grow orchids. When making an inventory of places where orchids are successfully grown, you come across not only window-sills, but also bathrooms, closed veranda’s, attic rooms, and even cellars. The latter will surely not be useful without artificial light.
Magic with space….
In order to successfully grow orchids in the window-sill, this place must meet certain criteria. There must be enough light, the right temperature and proper humidity. A south, south-west or south-east window is preferred. But the plants must be protected from direct sunlight. Who only has a window at the north side available, may better select species that do not need to much light, like Paphiopedilum and supply additional artificial light.
Humidity is very important to orchids. If your books and tapestry can stand it, you could use an air conditioner that supports high humidity. That is not only healthy for your plants, but also for you! Some orchids like Odontonia Vuylstekeara can be sprinkled every day in order to supply sufficient humidity. But for others, this does not work. The sprinkling will cause stains. If you sprinkle, take care that the pot does not receive any water. Only the leaves should get wet.
Water; OK, but how much and where….
Pouring water is quite something else than sprinkling water. Pouring water in the pot will help the plant to develop leaves, flowers etc. However, too much water in the pot will harm the roots and may eventually kill the plant.
If you are not very experienced, then sprinkle in the morning and allow the pot to get dry before dark.
Despite the warning given above, water is very important for the plants. The amount of water that a plant needs will differ from species to species. The Sobralia for example needs a lot of water. But for Paphiopedilum, it will be sufficient to pour a bit of water in the pot, once every 10 days.
In general, most orchids need quite some water during their active growing period, but as soon as the resting season starts, they should get less water. The water to use for orchids should preferably be rain water and don’t give more frequent than once a week.
Beware of draught….
Like most plants, orchids a small breeze. Having a fan running in various intervals, will often be appreciated by your orchids. But don’t ever expose your orchids to draught. They really hate that!
Light. Light is very important from November till mid February, the months with least sunshine in our country. In these months, the plant should enjoy all the sunshine that is available, in order to prepare for good flowering and strong colors. From mid February till May, light will stimulate good growth. But on sunny days, the plant should be protected against too much sunshine. From May till September, the plant must not be exposed to direct sunlight.
Fertilization. All orchids need dressing. But give them preferably special orchid fertilizer and never more than the recommended concentration. If you ever need to apply normal fertilizer, then give no mare than 0.5 to 1 gram per liter water. Resting plants do not need any fertilizer. During the winter months November and January, one should also not apply any fertilizer.
Temperature. When selecting the best plants to buy, one should consider the way the house is heated and to which extend the house is temperature-isolated. It is important to know day and night temperatures, both in the room and in the window-sill (or any other place to grow orchids).
Make your selection together with an experience orchid grower. (After you told him the conditions where you want to grow the orchids.) There is no need for a special green thumb to keep these orchids alive. If you can grow other plants without much difficulty and made a good selection for the right place, you will see that growing orchids is a fascinating hobby that can give you a lot of pleasure, while being less expensive than many people think!