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Trust Us: Orchids Aren’t that Hard to Grow

Inspired by In the Tropics: The Orchid Show and want to grow your own orchids? We’ll help you choose which ones are right for you.

To get started, drop by the Orchid Show, which runs until March 24, and note the ones that catch your eye. Then come to the Post-Orchid Show Plant Sale, where you can buy orchids at bargain prices.

Meanwhile, Assistant Horticulturist Chester Jankowski provided these basics on four kinds of orchids.

Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis
Phalaenopsis 'Surf song'

Also known as the moth orchid, orchids in this genus are among the easiest to grow. These orchids do well in low light and don’t need much fertilization; give them a bit of food once a week from April to October. Phalaenopsis orchids don’t need much water so go easy on the hydration. And stay away from a common misconception about care: do not use an ice cube to water these tropical plants.

Dendrobium

Dendrobium
Dendrobium Super model 'Platinum'

These orchids can be a bit tricky to grow. Dendrobium orchids loves heat and humidity, but also ventilation. They like bright sun, but not direct sun. In summer, you can move these outside, but once fall comes around, they need cool nights to flower.

Cattleya

Cattleya
Cattleya Intergeneric hybrid

Cattleya come in almost every color (just not blue) and are known for their large, fragrant flowers. You might recognize them from being commonly used in orchid corsages. While they’re not too difficult to grow, be careful not to over or under water them. They need a lot of light, but don’t let them get too much heat.

Paphiopedilum

Paphiopedilum
Paphiopedilum 'Moy Lim Gum x Via Quatal x Red Pepper 'Green Jade' version 2'

Commonly known as lady slippers, these orchids are better suited to advanced growers. They’re mostly terrestrial, meaning they grow with their roots in soil, so they’ll need a different growing medium than epiphytic orchids (which grow on trees and have exposed roots). These natives of the tropical forest floors of Asia produce interesting blooms, but they need the right conditions. A combination of high humidity and low light helps them thrive, and a cool fall season encourages flowering.

You can buy orchids every Saturday and Sunday at the Orchid Show in the Orchid Marketplace. Illinois Orchid Society members also will be on hand to offer repotting and to answer orchid care questions.

Author: 
Jasmine Leonas
Title: 
Social Media Specialist
Published: 
February 14, 2019

Comments

Submitted by Rolando (not verified) on

Recently retired. Looking for relaxing hobby. Purchased two orchids from local box store. They’re still alive! Want to learn more! Enjoyed Chicago Botanical Orchid show. Live in aurora Naperville area, so can’t make trek to Deerfield often. Any suggestions on where I can get educated in my area? Thanks

Submitted by Natalie (not verified) on

Hi Rolando,
Gardening is a great hobby! If you’re in the Aurora-Naperville area, you might want to check with the Morton Arboretum. They may have classes that can help you learn more.

Submitted by Barbara (not verified) on

I have 2 phalaenopsis that havent bloomed in 2 years. One has a long green flow stem, healthy dark leaves and air roots.. The other has just healthy looking leaves and air roots. They live on stone trays with water in a medium, indirect lit window and have been fed in the last month.

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