Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Orchids - understanding their requirements
Orchids plants are easy to grow as can be testified by the huge number of growers to be found in various countries around the world. Its easy for people in the tropics to grow orchids but even in extremely cold climates it is possible to create suitable conditions and grow these beautiful plants.
A novice orchid grower usually is somewhat starry-eyed about the subject and tries to grow as wide a range of orchids as possible. Experience is the best teacher and hardened growers realize only too well the folly of trying to grow orchids which have vastly different cultural requirements together, in similar conditions. With such a tremendous range of orchids available to select from, its not difficult to choose a group which will thrive in a particular set of conditions. The message then for a beginner is to gain as much knowledge as possible from experienced growers, orchids periodicals and books. Joining a local orchid society is one of the best ways to start.
In my personal opinion, the best orchid growers are those who have a good understanding of the requirements of their plants. One of the most effective ways to gain this knowledge is to observe orchid plants growing in their native state. Unfortunately this is not always posiible and the next best approach is to read avidly. Orchid journals can provide wealth of information not only directed to cultivation of plants but also in reports of collectors who have been fortunate to visit out-of-the-way localities. Even a photograph of the terrain can provide clues - note whether the vegetation is open or dense, the topography flat or steep, large boulders and cliff faces obvious or the mountain tops covered in mist. These are the sort of conditions that can influence the requirements of a species and an observant grower takes note of them.
As an example I am attaching some photos of orchids growing in the wild and as you can see some require a lot of air movement and light, some prefer humid, misty situations, other prefer drier situations with plenty of light but no direct sunlight. By observing and learning of cultural requirements of a particular orchid specie you will know if its suitable to grow in your particular environment.