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The orchid family is one of the largest among the plants with more than 35 000 botanical species disseminated throughout our planet. Their height vary from 5 millimeters to five meters. They are characterized by two growing modes. Firstly, the sympodial mode which allows the plant to grow from a horizontal rhizome;the plant can be divided when cutting the rhizome. Sometimes, a dumpy stem can be seen , it is a pseudobulb. Its function is to accumulate food and water. Secondly, the monopodial mode which has a vertical rhizome beginning at the lower leaves. The monopodial plants are very difficult to propagate by cutting the rhizome due to an almost impossible division.
EPIPHYTIC PLANTS Orchids can be epiphytes (they grow on other vegetals), litophytes (on rocks), terrestrials or semi-terrestrials. They are certainly not parasite plants : their roots are perfectly adapted as to use their natural environment resources in an optimal manner. Most orchids are grown in pots with bark, tree fern roots, osmund fiber, sphagnum moss, or a mix of these materials. Some species are grown as epiphytes, simply mounted on a bark slab or tree fern roots plaque. Each genus has different needs when it comes to light. Fertilizer dosage must be changed in accordance of the growth, the dormancy state or to stimulate the blooming. The growing medium must be kept wet and contain the proper elements so as to allow a good air circulation within the pot; but the bulb and the new growth are always at risk of rotting and thus may be taken care of. In order to prevent any parasites infestation, the environment must be kept clean as well as the growing pots and tutors should be steririlized.
FLOWERING Most orchids types bloom once the year, with flowers of a good longevity. The triggering of the floraison often is linked to variations of the lighting and temperature. The flowers use the means more ingenious to delude the pollinators, by imitation, chemical or visual enticement, or by provocation. The flowers of the orchid are composed from three sépales and three petals, of which the one is modified in labelle. This one often is curled and colored to attract the pollinisatuers towards the stamens and the pistil, soldered in an organ called column. It is this structure that characterizes the orchids.
BUYING When buying orchids, choose only sane, and well potted, and well identified specimens. Some disease could appear later, so it would be wiser to put your new acquisitions in quarantine during a six weeks or months period. Buying plant sold by well-known producers and artificially propagated contributes to orchids preservation in their natural habitat. Collecting orchids in nature - even in small number and for well intended collectors purposes - leads directly to the extinction of species in some areas. Moreover, as in their habitats these plants grow in perfect symbiosis with microscopic fungi they do not survive transplantation.
IN GENERAL Cattleya are found in rain forest of Central and South America.. They usually bloom on new pseudobulbs that bear one or two thick and hard leaves, after forming a sheath looking like a forming leaf in which the buds nests to eventually emerge for blooming. Some are bifoliate and multifloral; other are unifoliate and produce fewer flowers of a larger size. Many hybrids have been created from Cattleya and alliance, such as Brassavola, Laelia and Epidendrum.
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS Cattleya are among the easiest orchids to grow indoors. In summertime they need a medium lighting, but prefer brighter light and even sun in wintertime. New growths and new roots appear at pseudobulb bottom. The plant needs then frequent waterings and a fertilizer with a higher percentage in nitrogen. As soon as the pseudobulb is formed, reducing waterings and cutting down the fertilization triggers the blooming. After the blooming period, and the growth of new leaves in spring or fall, the plant needs a resting or dormancy period. Waterings are reduced until new growths appear. When roots spread, the plant can be repotted and divided. The pots must have a proper size as to contain the roots and allow the growing of new pseudobulbs (at least two) in medium bark nuggets to insure a good air circulation.
LIGHT 2 000 - 3 000 foot-candles, during 12 or 14 hours a day.
TEMPERATURE 20ºC to 25ºC in the day and 15º C to 20ºC in the night
IN GENERAL About 70 species of this genus spread from Himalaya to Australia, including China, Japan, Indochina and Indonesia. They are typically used for cut flowers. Plants can reach up to 1,5 meters. Their growing patterns vary according to the species.
CULTURAL REQUIREMENT Cymbidium love light. In summertime they sit as well in semi shaded spots as in full sun, and when in their peak period of growing, they need frequent waterings and fertilizers with higher percentages in nitrogen A light mix for substrate and outdoors culture is recommended. In fall, when the growing period ends, waterings must be decreased. Night temperatures must be lowered so to stimulate the blooming. They are the last orchids to be taken inside, after a couple of nights at a lower temperature such 4º C. In winter, they sit in a cold but very bright room and with almost no watering; it is recommended to mist the plant just to prevent total drought. After this period of cold, floral buds appear and normal watering must be resumed as well as a fertilization program including a higher percentage of phosphorus until the following spring blooming. The plant can be repotted and divided after the blooming. The size of the new pot must be so as to contain all the roots and one or two new pseudobulbs. The subtropical species can be grown with intermediate conditions. As these are semi-terrestrial plants, Cymbidiums can be grown in bark or in very light Pro-Mix™.
LIGHT From 3 000 to 4 000 foot-candles in summertime
TEMPERATURE From 20 ºC to 30 C in the day and from 13 ºC to 17 ºC in the night
IN GENERAL It is one of the largest genus formed by more than 1 600 species. Dendrobium are found from Himalaya to Australia including Pacific Islands. They are frequently used for cut flowers. Their growing habits vary according to the species.
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS Dendrobium are classified into two groups : those of cold conditions, they are deciduous, they lose their leaves and bloom on the pseudobulbs; and those of intermediate conditions, they keep their leaves, are evergreen, and bloom on the top of the pseudobulbs
COLD CONDITIONS Dendrobium nobile is one of the most typical of the cold conditions Dendrobium group. Summer is their growing peak period : new long pseudobulbs or canes start then to show. They need abundant waterings and food, in a well ventilated bright and warm place. In the early winter, these canes get to maturity and the growth ends. At this stage, the plant needs to be located in a cooler place with no watering during a month. Their leaves falling is normal. Flowers start to appear before the new leaves. Watering must be then resumed within intermediate
INTERMERDIATE CONDITIONS Dendrobium phalaenopsis is typical of intermediate to warm conditions Dendrobium. The plants must be kept wet in a bright place. Their thick leaves evergreen last many years. Lowering slightly the temperature and reducing the watering in winter stimulates a spring bloom.
IN GENERAL The somehow 350 species of Masdevallia genus spread from Central to South America, and grow according a vertically scale beginning from the sea level to altitudes reaching 4 000 meters in the mountainous cloud forests. These plants are mostly small in size, but some grow to a compact medium size. Their leaves usually grow one by one and are thick as the plant has no pseudobulbs. Flowers are generally small, some coul have a bigger size; they appear one after another, or in clusters. Three big sepals combined in a cup-shaped single structure, usually brightly coloured, contain in the bottom small petals and a little lip. Numerous intrageneric hybrids havebeen created to get plants more tolerant to the hot weather. Some hybrids include genus Dracula, they are the Dracuvallias.
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS Masdevallia have special growing requirements, one of them is a good quality of water; that is, a kind of water low in mineral salts. Another of their requirements is higher humidity, something varying between 75 à 95% (with a minimum requirement of 65%). They grow in light or medium shade. These plants are in a continuous growth during the year, usually blooming with the maturation of a new growth. Thus, they need frequent waterings all year long because they have no food storage. It is best to repot them after the blooming period. The new pot must big enough to contain the roots and one or two new growths. The potting medium should drain well but also water-retentive, obtained with a mix of fine bark, New Zealand sphagnum moss or osmund fiber. Masdevallia live best in a cooler temperature, so they should not be exposed to intense heat waves.
Fertilization : a balanced fertilizer which concentration should be 200 parts per million ; the medium should be rinsed out in clear water at least once a month.
TEMPERATURE Warm conditions : daytime 20° - 26,5°C (68° - 80° F), night : 11,5 - 18°C (53° - 65° F)
intermediate conditions : daytime :12,5° - 20°C (55° - 68° F), night : 9° - 13,5°C (48° - 56° F)
cool conditions : daytime : 10° - 16,5°C (50° - 62° F), night : 4,5° - 11,5°C (40° - 53° F)
LIGHT 600 to 1 400 foot-candles
IN GENERAL This genus includes about twenty species and some natural hybrids found in Central and South America. Many species have recently been renamed in a parent genus group: Miltoniopsis. They are epiphytic with flat and round pseudobulbs. They use to bloom at the bottom of new pseudobulbs. The flower have rounded, flat petals, and their centers display a colored splash called a mask or « waterfall »; they ressemble very much to pansies, some call them « Pansy Orchids ». Thousands of hybrids have been produced with related genera like Odontoglossum and Oncidium.
Cultural Requirements There are two groups with different needs: Miltonia, native to lower and warmer altitudes of Brazil, grow within intermediate conditions, and Miltoniopsis, growing in the Columbian Andes, within cooler conditions. Both groups have pseudobulbs, that means they both need a dormancy period .
INTERMERDIATE GROUP The active period of growth starts in spring or in summer when new roots develop under the old pseudobulbs and new growths appear. Waterings must be increased and fertilization includes a high percentage of nitrogen. These plants need a good ventilation as well as high humidity. They usually like a semi-shaded place, but they resist a very bright light if the temperature is not too high and the evaporation not too important. When in dormancy, watering should be reduced to its minimum, but the substrate is kept to a certain degree of wetness.
COLD CONDITIONS GROUP Miltoniopsis have basically the same needs as above, but within cooler conditions. Growing temperatures vary with each species
IN GENERAL Odontoglossum are epiphytic orchids found in mountainous areas of Central and South America. They have round or oval-shaped swollen pseudobulbs with two or three leaves. Thousands of hybrids have been produced with this genus and related genera mostly Miltonias and Miltoniopsis and Oncidium. Many species are fragrant.
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS Most of them grow within cold conditions, except Odontoglossum krameri which grows within intermediate conditions. Pseudobulbs indicate the need of a resting period in fall or in early winter. Watering must be completely stopped. To promote the blooming, it is necessary to place the Odontoglossum in a cold and very bright room. As soon as the first buds show, occasional watering can be resumed. The new growths will accelerate the termination of flowering, watering must then be abundant in a well ventilated room and high humidity. Numerous pseudobulbs will grow the following year. Odontoglossum can be mounted on cork or tree-fern plaque with excellent results, but the waterings must be frequent. They can also be grown in tiny pots as long as they are very well drained and ventilated. Check for mealybugs and scales in summer , mostly during the dry and hot season.
LIGHT 2000 à 3000 foot-candles
TEMPÉRATURE Cool area and very good ventilation
IN GENERAL There are over 750 species scattered from Florida to Argentina, with cool, intermediate and warm growing requirements. Oncidium are mostly epiphytes. They present pseudobulbs, and leaves in different shapes, and also differ in sizes. The flower is the only characteristic they have in common.
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS As the species vary so much, it is important to know where a specimen comes from in order to give it the right growing conditions, cool, intermediate or warm. All need a very well ventilated substrate. Growing Oncidium mounted on cork or tree-fern plaques yields excellent results. The pseudobulbs in these plants indicate that a resting period is needed; by the end of the Fall waterings are reduced as well as the temperature. This triggers new spikes. From Spring to Fall, it is growing period, waterings must absolutely be abundant in a humid and shady atmosphere. As soon as new roots develop, it is an ideal time to repot and divide.
TEMPERATURE From 20 ºC to 27 ºC day, and 15 ºC night and could be 10 ºC for related genera to Miltonia and Odontoglossum.
LIGHT 1000 à 2000 foot-candles
IN GENERAL This genus gathers approximately 65 species growing from India to Solomon Islands; some species originally come from Viet Nam and China. They grow in cool conditions. Also known as Ladyslippers, they are related to North of America Cypripedium, as well as to Selenipedium and Phragmipedium genera. They are semi-terrestrial or lithophytic, sympodial and with no pseudobulb. Several thousands of hybrids have been produced. Numerous species are endangered and thus now protected.
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS This genus is divided into two groups according their cultural requirements: plain green foliage (cool-growing conditions) and mottled leaves (intermediate growing conditions). They are shade-loving plants and they need a lower lighting. They have no pseudobulb, so they need no dormancy period. Regular watering must be abundant so as to wash out mineral salts in the medium, because the roots are sensitive. Their blooms are long-lasting. After the blooming period, watering should be slightly reduced. Repotting these plants cause them a shock; that is the reason to repot every three or four years. For a successful culture, they need a fast-draining but water-retentive lose mix that resists to rot.
COLD CONDITIONS GROUP This group needs a range of temperatures varying from 10 ºC to 15 ºC night, and 15 ºC to 20 ºC day.
INTERMEDIATE CONDITIONS GROUP For this group, just add a 5 ºC to the previous ranges.
IN GENERAL Plants of this genus are also known as Moth Orchids. The genus includes about 70 species from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Australia. These plants are epiphytic, monopodial with no pseudobulb; they grow in wood edge and in undergrowths. Spikes bear splendidly clusters of long-lasting blooms. Numerous thousands of hybrids have been created since 1960; one could easily say that this is the most known orchid.
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS Phalaenopsis are warm to intermediate plants, but they tolerate important changes of temperature. In summer, during their growing period, they need abundant waterings and feeders high in nitrogen. Morning waterings are preferable. In summer, they do well with a medium light; in autumn, the plant needs a short period of rest, waterings are then reduced and the night temperature could be lowered, with the result of promoting spikes and blooms. Normal waterings can then be resumed with a high phosphorus fertilizer. Blooms start in spring. After the flowers fall, it is possible to promote a new blooming period by cutting the spike under the first dead flower. The dormant bud will develop a secondary branch to the spike. Yellow Phalaenopsis spikes will bloom again in the following years and should NOT be cut.
LIGHT 800 to 1200 foot-candles
TEMPERATURE 20 ºC to 27 ºC day, to 15 ºC minimum night..
IN GENERAL Vanda originally grow in Burma and are parents of the hybrids we know. The most remarkable is Vanda coerulea, a splendid species bearing light blue flowers. Crossed with Euanthe sanderana from Philippines, it gave us one of the most known hybrids, Vanda Rothschildiana. Vandas are ususally large with narrow and oval shaped leaves appearing by pair from a central upright rhizome.
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS Vanda originally grow in Burma and are parents of the hybrids we know. The most remarkable is Vanda coerulea, a splendid species bearing light blue flowers. Crossed with Euanthe sanderana from Philippines, it gave us one of the most known hybrids, Vanda Rothschildiana. Vandas are ususally large with narrow and oval shaped leaves appearing by pair from a central upright rhizome..
LIGHT 2 000 - 3 000 foot-candles, 12 or 14 hours a day
TEMPERATURE From 18ºC to 30ºC in the day and from 13º C to 20ºC in the night.
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