The Secret to Growing Gorgeous Orchids

by Jonah Winn-Lenetsky - Date: 2006-12-01 - Word Count: 562 Share This!

Humidity, Humidity, Humidity. This can be a very tricky one, but You need to raise the humidity.

Humidity in a normal household is far too low for orchids to thrive. It is important to bring it up to at least 40 or 50 percent. In cold climates during the winter relative household humidity often averages close to 20 percent. Household humidity can be even lower in desert areas. At humidity that low orchid leaves will begin to shrivel and flowers will brown and drop off. Something called Bud Blast will often occur in low humidity situations (especially on Phalaenopsis orchids). This is where the developing flower buds drop off before they have a chance to open.

Some orchids can adapt to lower humidity than others, so it is important to know how adaptable your orchids are. However, in general, no orchid is going to thrive at humidity below 35%-40%. Last winter my humidifier broke and the humidity around my plants was hovering near 35%. Most of my orchids survived this period, but they didn't love it. I was also misting them several times a day. Misting is generally not recommended, because it only brings up the humidity temporarily and can cause orchid plants to rot.

There are some practical ways to get your orchids more humidity.Invest in a room humidifier, these can be inexpensive and add humidity to a whole room. I recommend evaporative pad humidifiers instead of cool-mist humidifiers.Group orchid plants together, as they release humidity into the air and add in other houseplants and companion plants that can be kept moist all the time. These will help to increase humidity over a confined area.Use humidity trays. These can help to raise the humidity immediately getting to the plants by five or 10 percent. There are two ways to make these, you can use a plastic tray filled with small gravel (I use a plastic drip tray for pots), and fill the base with water, keeping the orchid pots on the gravel, just above the water line. Alternatively, you can buy pre-made plastic grates that you fill with water and place the orchids on the grate, above the waterline. These are usually available from mail-order orchid retailers, such as Oak Hill Gardens, or Orchids Limited.I have recently acquired a "Mist Maker" that uses ultrasonic waves to create mist. These can be really effective, but they are a bit tricky to use and really raise the humidity, so be careful. Place the orchids in a location that is already humid. Don't put them in a bathroom, because orchids hate for the humidity to fluctuate drastically. However, basements are often a viable option.Summer the orchids outside. In colder climates it still may be possible to keep the orchids outside three or four months a year. Avoid this option if you live in a desert region with low humidity and high temperatures.Buy orchids that will withstand lower humidity. Some orchids are from the cloud forest and hat low humidity, an example would be Masdevallias. Other orchids, such as Cattleyas Phalaenopsis and Encyclias can adapt to lower humidity levels, closer to 50%.Designate a room for growing. This will make humidity, as well as other conditions more manageable.Try to keep the humidity at 50% or greater, this is a general rule of thumb.Buy a digital clock that measures humidity. They sell these at target, as well as specialty nurseries.

Related Tags: plants, orchids, humidity, orchid, phalaenopsis, cattleya, plant

Some of this information was taken from Charlie Baker at Orchids For Dummies by Steven A. Frowine at .

Jonah Winn-Lenetksy is a hobbyist orchid grower and plant lover living in Minneapolis, MN. Read about his hopes for his blog, The Armchair Orchidist, His blog is intended to share some of the expertise and passion he's gained in growing orchids over the past year. It is really intended as an informational site for beginning and intermediate orchid growers, who grow orchids in the home.

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