Orchids Grown in Nature

How do orchids grow in nature?

In nature most orchids grow on trees. Their roots grab and “hug” the tree bark and support themselves through this union. The orchid uses the tree as an anchor and gets nutrients from all the organic matter that is on the tree and whatever may wash down the tree through the orchid. This typically happens in a jungle environment. Jungles are humid and orchids thrive in this environment because they absorb water from the natural humidity (check out my post on Humidity and Orchids). Because of natural rain in these areas, the orchid is used to experiencing abundant water (which washes over them) and times of dryness. Orchid roots, leaves and pseudobulbs allow the storage of water for an upcoming dry period. Some orchids grow upright and some naturally slope downward (most orchids are staked by nurseries which makes them grow straight up).

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Naturally orchids bloom on a schedule that is rarely seen in todays world. In our world orchids are “forced” into bloom by a nursery. Nurseries have a “perfect” growing environment in which humidity, light and temperature are controlled. This environment allows nurseries to produce blooming orchids year round. For example if you buy an orchid in the Summer, and it is in full bloom, it has most likely been forced into bloom by a nursery. Nothing is wrong with a nursery doing this but once you have your own orchids, on a natural cycle, then they will bloom on the schedule of nature which is early Winter and Spring. In the Summer is normally when an orchid will grow roots and leaves. Orchids need to grow new leaves and new roots to store up energy for the upcoming bloom period. See my Season by Season guide post for more information on this.

All of these facts explain why is is very strange for an orchid to grow in your house, in a pot and being staked. This is not to say that they can not be grown in your home (orchids are very hardy and easy to grow) but you must create a “jungle” environment. Meaning you must repot them snug but not smothering (they need to breath), you must give them humidity, and they enjoy a good misting. Please refer to my previous post in regards to potting, humidity , watering and fertilizing on examples on how to create this “jungle” environment in your home!

Hope that helps,

Hannah

Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.  

18 Comments on “Orchids Grown in Nature

  1. Hi Hannah. I’ve learned so much from your blog! I have two orchids which I repotted in February and both have new buds about to bloom. I’m very proud of my work but I have a concern. I fear that I’ve packed the moss too tight because it seems the glimpses I can see of the roots, they are looking like where the moss touches them, they are beginning to mold ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I only water when the moss is completely dried out (which is taking about 2 weeks to happen.)

    I know I must have done something right because of their blooms but what should I do in this case? I can send a picture to your email if it will help. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi,

      That sometimes happens to me. You can stick your finger down around the edge of the pot and move the mix around a bit to give it some air and disrupt the mold growth. You can also pour some hydrogen peroxide around the edge where you see the mold.

      Hannah

  2. I just don’t know why my phals were growing lush and green. 2 &3 spikes on some. I was so proud. I had a 100w light bulb, 2 ft over them. Watered every other week. And no I don’t. water with ice. Temp around 65 cool dining area.I misted The shock was the # of spikes. Buds quit growing and dropped

  3. Great blog! I guess I managed to recreate that nursery environment, my phal orchid has been blooming year round for some years. ๐Ÿ™‚ They die as soon as I send them off into my dad’s care though… He likes orchids, and he does manage to make them bloom sometimes, but for some reason they always shrivel up and die once bloom has finished.

    • Hi,

      Thanks for the compliment!

      The blooms falling off and dying is their natural cycle but they may do this prematurely with a change in environment.

      Hannah ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hi Hannah,

    By unobstructed I mean there isn’t anything blocking it’s light.- ( like a tree or bush )

    Thanks-

    Michele

    • Michele,

      I have my orchids in a South facing window mainly because that’s the only window that will fit all my orchids in. It’s a giant bay window with a seat.

      They get a few hours of obstructed sunlight a day.

      I have friends who have orchids in all different facing windows…

      The main thing to watch is that they are not getting hours of direct hot sun because their leaves can actually get sunburned.

      The best way to tell if they are too hot is to touch their leaves and if they feel really hot then they need more indirect sunlight.

      Hannah

  5. Hi Hanna ,

    Have you had any luck growing your orchids in an unobstructed northern exposure.

    Thanks,

    Michele

  6. Hi Hannah again,

    Hope you don’t mind all of these questions I have. I usually bother David from Repotme. Both David and Ruth even know me by name!

    If you don’t mind terribly could you possibly tell me the brand of fan you have for your room with orchids.

    I posted a question to you last nite about an Ocidium stem that was accidently bent. Can’t remember the category that I posted it in.

    Thanks for all the great advise!

    Michele

  7. Hi Hannah,

    Some how I found my beautiful Oncidium stalk bent in half still hanging by a thread or two. (no blooms as of yet.)
    I supported very securely to the stake.
    Of course I’m crushed. I’ve been waiting for the blooms and I was almost there. Can you think of anything else that could be done except keep my fingers crossed and hope that the spike stays connected and flourishes.

    • Michele,

      So I did some research… It it’s completely severed there is a chance it may bloom if placed in water like a normal flower. And the orchid may then shoot off another spike to compensate for the fact it never bloomed.

      Some people have tried taping their semi – severed stems but it was unclear if this works.

      I am so sorry – that sound a super frustrating!!!

  8. Hi Hannah,

    What kind of oscillating fan do you recommend for a room around 11 by 15 feet?

  9. Its unfortunate that people can not easily grow these beautiful plants like they are often found in nature and furthermore they are often misinformed about the needs of these orchids. I really enjoy that your site works to inform people about their plants and feel that the information is well written. I would like to see a post about orchids grown in vivariums or other similar enclosures. I just think it would be nice for people to know that the idea is out there. Recently I have started a project where I am trying to grow Tolumnia in a small vivarium with a good t5 ho light and a computer fan for air circulation because I can not provide a suitable environment otherwise for these beautiful gems.

    • Tora,

      Thank you for the feedback! And I love seeing orchids grown naturally. I would love to do a post on this new topic. I will do some research and ask my orchid guru’s…and get back to you.

      Thanks again,

      Hannah

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