Monopodial vs. Sympodial

What’s the difference between monopodial and sympodial orchids?

updated 3/1/17

Monopodial Orchids

Monopodial orchids grow as a single upright “stem” with one leaf following another on opposite sides of the center. Monopodial orchids are repotted in the center of the pot as they will grow straight up. Common monopodial orchids are Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilums, and Vanda (shown above).
  • Orchids with this characteristic pattern of growth do not contain water reservoirs (no pseudobulbs) apart from their leaves and thick roots, thus should be watered just as the medium in which they are potted in dries out completely.
  • At the base of monopodial orchids are small nodes that lie dormant, often for a very long time. Occasionally, however, monopodial orchids will multiply by starting a new shoots at the base of the plant and in this way develop into sizable specimen plants. The new plant is called a “basal Keiki.”

Sympodial Orchids

Sympodial growth is defined as an orchid that does not grow from a single vertical stem but from a stem that is more or less horizontal. They have the appearance of looking like flower bulbs but they are not. Their real function is to store water. These kind of orchids can go for prolong durations without water until the medium dries out because they store water in their pseudobulbs.

  • Sympodial orchids grow new pseudobulbs from the base of the previous pseudobulb and over time develop multiple growth leads along a single horizontal stem. This horizontal stem is called the rhizome. From the rhizome roots will grow. Most orchid genera are sympodial such as the Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium and Oncidium.
  • A pseudobulb refers to and individual “shoot” of a sympodial orchid which has a chunky base to hold water topped with leaves. Sometimes the pseudobulb is small and the leaves are long (as in Cymbidiums, shown at above, 1st pic above). Sometimes the pseudobulbs are long and thick (they look like leaf canes) and the leaves are small (as in Dendrobiums, shown above, 2nd pic above). Bloom spikes usually come from where the outermost leaf meets the pseudobulb. To assist in anchoring a sympodial orchid in the pot, a clip can be placed across the pot and between the pseudobulbs to secure.
Here is a helpful picture that further explains the difference
Photo copyright, American Orchid Society newsletter

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.

Best Orchid Supplies

What is the best orchid supply website?

updated 2/27/17

This is my favorite orchid supply website. I absolutely love rePotme!!

These are my MUST HAVE products from them;

1. Feed Me fertilizer

2. Wash Me leaf wash

3. Get Off Me for the nasty pest

4. Physan 20 for fungus/rot

6. Oxygen Core Dual Clear Pots my favorite orchid pots! 

7. Their orchid mixes

They just built a new place in Delaware. Here is a picture and description of their Eco friendly building.

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photo copyrighted by rePotme.com from this page

This is the statement they released on their new Headquarters… “We are pleased to let all of our terrific customers know that we are now shipping from our new headquarters in Georgetown Delaware. We are located approximately 20 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. We thought you would like to see where your orders ship from and learn a bit about our construction project.

As we grew over the years, we needed more space to continue offering our products to an expanding universe of customers. A few years ago we purchased this 20 acre farm and began planning the construction of the new rePotme. We knew we had to keep a continued focus on rapidly filling orders with the finest products while being able to carry more products for all sorts of orchids, bonsai, african violets and the wide variety of other plants our customers have. The building itself is over 12,000 square feet and allows us to move great quantities of material and products in and out at the same time. This is critical to our operation because we have large trucks bringing in supplies daily even as your orders are heading out to domestic and international destinations.

Our internet presence is powered by wind turbines while our heating and air conditioning is delivered by geothermal energy. Electricity for our operations comes from a co-operative. All rainwater collected from the roof is directed into into two ponds that are regularly visited by a wide variety of birds including recently sighted eagles and a blue heron! The farm is primarily meadow lands graced by a 100 year old barn. By coincidence, our street name is Paradise Road and this wonderful rural farmland is appropriately named. When we are not filling your orders, we take in all that mother nature has created around us.”

Hope that Helps,

Hannah

 

Season by Season Guide

Updated 2/27/17

This post is going to be a “one stop guide” of everything I do throughout the year with my orchids and what’s going on with them during this time. You can search the various topics in the search feature on the blog for extra advice on what to do.

Quick background on orchids to help explain the seasons –

Orchids grow in nature at a different rate than orchids sold in stores (please click on my post titled “Orchids Grown In Nature” for more information). This is because stores buy orchids from nurseries which have a controlled environment which “forces” orchids into bloom by speeding up natural cues synthetically. They do this by giving them light, (please click on my post on Light Requirements for more information) temperature and humidity that is controlled by indoor nursery environments.

  • In nature orchids normally bloom once a year, for an extended period of months, usually in the Fall through early Spring. Their “nature” cue to bloom is the cool weather in the Fall.
  • Normally in the Summer months leading up to Fall orchids will be in their “active growth phase” which is when they grow new leaves and new roots. Orchids prepare for Fall blooms by storing up energy in new growth (almost like if you were to eat super healthy for a few months before a big race) which is why I give my orchids extra fertilizer at this time. Their “nature” cue at this time is the warm Summer months.

Nothing is wrong with nurseries “forcing” orchids into a cycle. But later on this post, when I explain that my orchids are on a certain cycle it may be confusing to you because your orchid may be on a different cycle. This may because you bought an orchid that was forced into bloom by a nursery or it may be because you live in a different climate. Once you have had your orchids for over a year they will catch up to a natural cycle.

My main goal is to make this easy for you! So if you have just received an orchid and it does not match up with the cycle below… then wait. I do this all the time with newly acquired orchids. I wait for their blooms to fall off. I then repot them and watch as they match up the next year.

Note: Occasionally I have repotted orchids and sadly they have not rebloomed. There are various reasons for this. Click on my post ‘Why won’t my Orchid Bloom” to see why.

Season Guide

Summer

Most of my orchids, that I have not recently bought or received, have been out of bloom for months. At this time they are preparing for their fall spikes (which become blooms) by shedding old leaves and growing both new leaves and roots. This is their natural energy cycle and is called their “active growth phase.” Many people panic when they see their bottom orchid leaves turning yellow and falling off but there is no need to worry because this is normally natural. When their leaves turn yellow you can either cut them off or they will shed naturally and seal themselves off. If you do decide to cut them off then sprinkle some cinnamon on the cut part and use sterilized cutting tool (cinnamon is a natural fungicide).
At this time it is super hot, where I live, and I want to make sure that my orchids are not getting too dry or too hot! I regulate their heat exposure by placing them on humidity trays, sometimes misting them and making sure they are in a well ventilated area. Be especially careful of the heat if you have your orchids outside. Orchids can actually get sunburn.
  • I make sure they are properly watered.
  • I place them on humidity trays, some of which I have made on my own.
  • I sometimes mist them.
  • I make sure they get extra fertilizer.
  • I keep them in a well ventilated area.
  • I repot any newly acquired orchids as soon as they go out of bloom.
  • I am also looking for and treating pest, fungus and rot.

Fall

At this time my orchids are preparing to shoot out new spikes. Spikes are the little shoots that are often confused with roots which become the blooms we all love. Spikes look like little “mittens” at first. If you have any confusion on whether your orchid is producing a root or a spike you can click on my post “Difference between a root and spike.”

Most orchid spikes do not naturally grow up, like we see in stores, which is why we need to stake and clip them. It does not hurt an orchid to stake it. This process is done because most people think orchids look “prettier” this way and this makes it easier to place multiple orchids together, on humidity tray, because they are not crowding each other. You do not need to stake an orchid if you do not prefer.

If you store your orchids indoors, like I do, then you may have to give your orchids the “Fall Cue” by cracking a window near them for a week or two. This is because when we heat our homes orchids do not notice that it’s cold outside and don’t know that it’s time to start growing spikes/shoots.

I have prepared for this time by buying stakes and clips.

As the new spikes grow I stake and clip them with different size stakes. Click on my post on “How to stake orchid spikes” for more information on this.

  • I have cut back on my fertilizer at this time.
  • I continue to water properly, but less than the Summer because they are drying out slower.
  • I continue to have my orchids on humidity trays.
  • I sometimes mist them.
  • I repot any newly acquired orchids as soon as they go out of bloom.
  • I am also looking for and treating pest, fungus and rot.
  • I also take notes, comparing them to last year, keeping track of when I see the first spike appear.

Winter

At this time I am watching my orchids bloom with much anticipation! Most of my orchids have shot out spikes by November and have been staked. Now I am watching them grow, some of them are blooming while others are producing more and more buds. This is a really fun time!

Some orchids experience “bud blast,” which is super annoying. This is when an orchid has a bloom bud that is about to open and instead it shrivels up, turns yellow and dies! I have a post on bloom blast.

  • I continue to cut back on my fertilizer at this time.
  • I water properly, but less than I would in the Spring/Summer months because they are drying out less.
  • I have my orchids on humidity trays.
  • I sometimes mist them.
  • I repot any newly acquired orchids as soon as they go out of bloom.
  • I am also looking for and treating pest, fungus and rot.
  • I take notes on the first bloom time and how many blooms.

SPRING

At this time my orchids have begun to shed their blooms. Orchids do this naturally – the blooms will shrivel and fall off one by one. Orchids have worked hard to produce these blooms as all of their energy is going to the shoot and its blooms. Eventually, when all the blooms have fallen, you will want to cut back their shoots in order to conserve their energy.

Not only do you want to cut back their shoots but you will want to repot them in premium mix. Even the best mix breaks down over time and giving them fresh new mix will help them prepare for their new leaf and root growth. This is also a great time to look at their roots, cut off dead ones and look for any rot.

Your orchid may need to be moved to a bigger pot at this time. Orchids like to be potted snugly but they do not like to be smothered.

Once the blooms have fallen the orchids begins their “active growth phase.” This phase is when they grow new roots and leaves. Without new and healthy root and leaf growth your orchid will not bloom next year. It’s an energy cycle. It would be the same as a kid growing strong bones in preparation for a growth spurt, which is why we increase fertilization in the Spring and Summer months.

They will also shed their bottom leaves as new leaf growth appears. You have the option to let the orchid shed its leaf naturally (it will seal itself off) or cut it off.

At this time, if you want, you have the option to move your orchid outside. You just need to make sure they do not get too hot. Do not put them in full sun – orchids like dapple shade. Also if you put them outside you will need to take extra care to make sure they don’t dry out or get scorched. I do not move my orchids outside FYI.

  • I make sure they are properly watered.
  • I place them on humidity trays, some of which I have made on my own.
  • I sometimes mist them.
  • I make sure they get extra of fertilizer.
  • I repot my orchids as soon as they go out of bloom.
  • I also take notes on them to see when they drop their blooms, what their roots look like, and if I moved their pot size.
  • I am also looking for and treating pest, fungus and rot.

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.

Orchid Leaves: Broken/Split

My orchid leaf split/broken? What do I do?

updated 2/27/17

Split Orchids
Some of my orchids have split leaves. They were either damaged before I got them or split from an already small tear (as shown above). They just keep growing with these splits and it does not affect any other growth. It’s slightly ugly but it will have no damaging effect to then orchid. The split leaf will continue to grow from the base but will always look split at the top – it will seal itself off and be kinda crooked. Don’t cut if off. It will still give the orchid energy even though its split.
Torn orchids
I have also had orchids that I dropped (as shown above)!! Yes dropped and broke…if this has happened to you then you know the awful feeling it causes!! I also have broken off the tiny baby leaf that was growing from the center of one my Phalaenopsis orchids… I about died.
I do a couple of things here
  1. I cut if off using sterile scissors to prevent any type of infection right at the tear.
  2. I sprinkle cinnamon (yes the common household spice) on it because it is a natural fungicide to protect it from any potential threat
  3. Then I leave it – as stated above, the leaf will continue to grow (however ugly) and still give the plant nutrients.

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.

Taking Orchid Notes

Updated 2/27/17

I have a lot of orchids. Once I started this blog everyone kept giving me their orchids once they were out of bloom or if they were dying. I love these orchids and I had to create a system to keep track of them somehow. With so many orchids it is hard to remember when I last watered, fertilized and treated them. I found that taking notes on them is the easiest way stay organized.

Here is some background on my orchids. I repotted 13 of them so far. The other 5 were bought in bloom, off cycle, and I am waiting for them to lose their blooms so I can repot them. And around another 5 were bought in bloom earlier this fall, again not in their normal bloom cycle, and they were repotted but will probably wait till next fall to shoot new spikes.

5 of the 18 shot up new spikes this fall and are about to bloom! Not all my orchids re-bloomed this year, for a variety of reasons. That might not seem like very good luck but most of my orchids were in really bad shape when I got them (rescued from friends etc.), three actually died due to under watering and lack of repotting from a previous owner.

I number each of my orchids and keep track of their habits. Number 5 is my rock star! I successfully repotted it last year and it has spiked beautifully! Here is a picture of it on January 5, 2012.

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It has 15 little blooms off it, including a shoot that sprung from another node. I found this plant abandoned and because it was not in bloom, I can’t wait to see what color its blooms will be!

Here is an example of the notes I take on it…

5. Already bloomed orchid Last bloom unknown before Aug. 201. Repotted on Aug 17, 2011. Went up a pot size. Good condition/Healthy roots. Detected spike Sept 15, 2011. Detected new root on 9/29/11. On 10/4/11 and 10/18/11 set bigger spike on stick. 10/27/11 no new dev except spike is bigger. 11/1/11 2nd spike shot off from 1st spike/node!

I also keep track of when I water, fertilize and treat my orchids. Each orchid has a plant label that I number and then write down everything I do to it. This helps with having so many orchids because I lose track of when to fertilize etc.

FOR EXAMPLE: 1/11/11 15, 16 and 17 Got the works (9 day watering difference) 2 and 5 just watered (19 day watering difference)

5, 15, 16, 17 are different orchids I have.

“Got the works” means I watered, fertilized, cleaned the leaves and treated my orchids.

“Just watered” means it’s the 4th time I have watered my orchid and I don’t use fertilizer (or any other product) so as to flush out the salts built up by fertilizing.

And finally, I also like to see how many watering day difference there is which is shown in the parentheses above. I find this helpful because sometimes I can tell by moving my orchids where the dry spots in my house are or if I need to increase humidity etc.

Hope that Helps,

Hannah

My Rockstar Orchid #5

Updated 2/27/17

Number 5 is my ROCK STAR! I found this Phalaenopsis orchid abandoned in a friends house and had no idea the last time it was watered or the shape it was in. Its leaves were a bit droopy and I was nervous to see its root system. Also I had no idea what color its blooms were since its blooms had already fallen off.
– I repotted it on Aug 17, 2011. I went up a size in pots. It was in good condition and had healthy roots.
– I detected a spike on Sept 15, 2011 and a 2nd root on Sept. 29, 2011.
– On Oct. 4 and 8, 2011 I set a bigger stake on spike because it was growing so fast.
– On November 11, 2011 a 2nd spike shot off from 1st spike!

Here is a picture on January 5, 2012

It has 15 little blooms off it including a second spike that sprung from another node. I can’t wait to see what color it’s blooms will be! (Update 2/27/17 white withblink inside).

Here is a pic of it on January 10, 2012…it’s beginning to open!!

It looks to be white with a bit of dark pink on it…

Here it is on January 13, 2012 … First bloom is fully opened, it is the one in front.

Here it is with a few more blooms!! On January 23, 2012

And here it is fully bloomed!

And here it is in 2015 with 30 blooms.

2017

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Email me with any questions in regards to how I got this orchid to bloom. And remember that orchids DO NOT bloom for many reasons. Don’t get disheartened if your orchids fail to bloom. Just take care of them and most likely they will bloom next year.

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.

 

 

 

 

Orchid Blooms

Updated 3/1/17

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Orchids are gorgeous and once you get the chance to watch one that is about to bloom, you will know how exciting it is! You will get a chance to see it, day-to-day, slowly open and the final product is amazing!!


Orchid blooms are initially sealed, protectively, with three sepals. Sepals are the outer covering of the bud and are normally green (sometimes they are a dark maroon color) and then change color upon blooming.

img_1083As the bud slowly opens the sepals fold back to show the inner petals of your orchid. Inside the three sepals are three petals. These three petals are not all the same size. There are two large petals on the top left and right and a smaller petal at the bottom forming a lip. This bottom petal is special in that it forms a unique “lip” shape and often has a lot of different colors on it.
Here is an example of a Phalaenopsis sepals and petals
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Notes:

Orchid blooms take time to open. Be patient when waiting for them to bloom and never force them to open!

A common yet frustrating experience is called “bud blast,” which is when you are waiting for you buds to open and instead they shrivel, turn yellow, and fall off. Click on the link for my post on Bud Blast for more information on this subject.

When changing from one potting mix to another your orchids may change color from one year to the next. Many times I bought a pink or yellow orchid and the next year it bloomed white. This is normal and is due to different nutrients in the soil.

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.

 

Why Won’t my Orchid Bloom?

My orchid won’t bloom. What is wrong?

updated 3/1/17

Okay so you successfully repotted your orchid and it is the following season and your orchid will not bloom!! What is up with that? Most likely your orchid is out of balance in either light, roots, growth, season and/or natural stimuli. Here are a few reason why this may happen;

1. Maybe it’s light. Hands down the most common reason that orchids fail to bloom is insufficient light. My Phalaenopsis orchids are usually happy with the filtered light in my windowsill but many other varieties need more light. Dendrobiums, Oncidiums, Cymbidiums and other types of orchids need much more light. They may need supplementary grow lights, which I don’t use…. I just put them in a brighter window. See my link on Orchid Light Requirements.

You can normally tell if your orchid is getting too much or too little light by looking at their leaves. Below is an example of what a Phalaenopsis orchid leaf should look like with the correct amount of light. It should be shiny and bright green.

img_0962You may ask, “What will your orchid look like with too little light?” The leaves will be a dark forest green instead of bright green. Here is an example of this…

 

On the other hand unlike a tomato plant, they can’t handle full sun. A bright window has much more shade then if they were outside. Windowsill light is called “dappled light” and works well for most orchids.

You may ask, “What will your orchid look like with too much light?” The leaves will be a light yellow-green instead of a bright green. They can also get sunburned… Both are shown below. You can see the yellow leaf and the scorching on the other leaf, from too much sun (which looks like a big brown spot).

2. Maybe it’s the roots….

Orchids work in balance between their roots, leaves and blooms. If your roots are healthy you should get good blooms. Many times I have seen a gorgeous orchid with deceptively beautiful leaves and flowers but when I went to repot, I found a horrible root system. In this situation even though the leaves and flowers were pretty the plant would surely die (or would have really suffered) if not repotted.

Horrible root systems are linked to over watering and/or lack of repotting. You orchid roots need A LOT of oxygen to survive and thrive. Without oxygen orchid roots will smother and die. It helps to have pots that you can clearly see their root system (shown below). Your orchid should have healthy green roots, as shown freshly watered below, on the right. In between watering they will look like the picture on the left a slight white/green which is also good.

Orchids are different from normal house plants….you can’t plant an orchid in normal soil, they need unique soil. I get all my soil/mix from rePotme. And even their mix, which I think is the best, will break down over time and will need to be replaced through repotting. Orchid mix will always need replacing because orchids need fresh mix to thrive. Orchids will not have enough energy to bloom if their roots are suffering. Remember its a balancing act!

3. Maybe it’s new growth… There are two types of growth patterns for orchids; sympodial and monopodial.

Monopodial orchids; Phalaenopsis (which I have ALOT of) and Vanda are the most common. They grow off a single central stem with leaves on either side. Each leaf should be at least as big as the leaf before it. There should be at least one or two new leaves per year.

You should look for the next bloom spike on monopodial orchids from the base at the underside of a leaf (usually 2 or 3 leaves down from the newest leaf) and on the opposite side as the prior bloom spike.

In order to keep blooming over the years, monopodial orchids such as Phalaenopsis need to put on new leaves each year. Over time, as the orchid grows in size and strength it will send out a bloom spike on each side of the stem simultaneously.

Sympodial orchids; These orchids have multiple growths and should grow 1 or 2 new growths per year. A newly acquired orchid may have 4 or 5 stalks, most with leaves, with the bloom coming from the largest stalk. The “stalks,” on these orchids, are called “pseudobulbs.” If your orchid is thriving you should see a new pseudobulb emerge from the base of the previous pseudobulb near where the orchid bloomed. During the leaf and root growth period (not the bloom period), usually in summer, this new pseudobulb will ideally grow to be at least as big or bigger than the one that just bloomed. The next bloom spike will come from this new pseudobulb. You should be looking for your orchid to grow big, healthy new pseudobulbs because they will be the source of the next season’s bloom. Good light, fertilizer and water are also keys to healthy new growth. Over time, as the orchid grows in size and strength it will grow multiple pseudobulbs which can all spike at the same time creating an abundance of gorgeous flowers!

4. Maybe it’s the season….Orchids naturally, bloom on their own schedule. Most likely it will not be the time of year it bloomed when you bought it because it was forced (off-cycle) into bloom at a nursery. You will find that most orchids grow new leaves and new roots during the summer, grow spikes in the fall and bloom in the winter through spring.

Most orchids will only bloom once a year but some bloom twice or more. Your blooms can last weeks or months while others can last only days. Some basic research about the type of orchid will identify what to expect. My Phalaenopsis orchids usually bloom once per year and their blooms can last for months. Once their flowers have fallen off they may have a couple of extra flowers emerge from the end of the bloom spike and bloom again but this has been rare for me. I also have Dendrobiums, Oncidiums and Cymbidiums- they usually bloom once or maybe twice per year with spectacular blooms that last a month or two.

5. Maybe it’s natural stimuli – in nature, orchids have natural stimuli that indicate to the plant that the growth season is over and it’s time to bloom. The two main characters of natural season are a dip in temperature in the Fall and gray days resulting in lower light. Some orchids are temperature sensitive and some are light sensitive.

Orchids that are sensitive to temperature are triggered to bloom by the natural cooling that occurs in the fall. This drop in temperature signals to the orchid that the growth period (new roots and new leaves) is coming to an end and it is time to get ready to set a bloom spike, as shown below. If your like me, you grow your orchids inside where the temperature is fairly constant. If this is the case, orchids can be deprived of the natural cues and will be reluctant to bloom. You will need to trick your orchid into realizing its Fall by giving it temperatures in the 60’s for a brief period (1-2 weeks). You can do this by cracking a window near them. I found this very successful with my orchids.

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Orchids are also sensitive to light and can have their natural cycle disrupted by leaving lights on, after dark, in our homes. As much as possible turn the lights off, at night, when your orchids are in your homes.

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.

Orchid Light Requirements

How much light/sun does my orchid need?

Orchids have a wide variety of light needs depending on their species. Understanding the appropriate amount of light for your orchid is essential to their health. Inadequate light is one of the major reasons that orchids do not bloom. Orchids require different light then normal house plants. They do not require the kind of bright direct sunshine that let’s say a tomato plant does.

Too little light can make their leaves turn a rich dark green color (shown below) which is not good, their leaves should be a light green color.

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Too much light can scorch or “sunburn” their leaves (as shown below). A good way to tell if your orchid is getting too much light is to touch their leaves and feel for heat. If your orchid leaves feel hot they need to be moved to shadier spot.

Orchid light requirements range from “low light” to “high light.” I briefly described the difference below.

  • Low Light = two hours of indirect sunlight per day. These plants can be grown indoors under indirect light or outdoors under shade.
  • Medium Light = four hours of indirect sunlight per day… preferably either outside or by a moderately sunny windows or under lights would be suitable.
  • High Light = six hours of indirect sunlight per day….preferably in bright, sunny window or outdoors would be ideal for these plants.

“High light” level orchids enjoy being outside in the summer (with dappled shade). This is the easiest way, to give them enough light to bloom. If you are keeping your “high light” orchids indoors, you may find that they will not bloom reliably without some sort of supplemental light unless they are in a very bright sun room or greenhouse. I have been told that fluorescent bulbs (with broad spectrum bulbs) work well with these types of orchids, as well as High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights…shown below. Remember, as stated in my previous post that in nature orchids get natural light cues, so you will need to keep them on a schedule as the days get longer and then get shorter.

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“Low light” and “Medium light” orchids will not be happy far from a light source but are easy to grow in a filtered sunny widow. My Phalaenopsis orchids are low to medium light orchids and they do very well in my East facing window seat (shown below).

Below you will find the light requirements recommended by the American Orchid Society. You can figure out what orchid you have by looking at your plant’s label and determine what genus it is (which is the first name on the tag). How much light your plant will require will depend on the type of orchid it is.

  • Cattleya –Medium to High
  • Cymbidium –Medium to High
  • Dendrobium –Medium to High
  • Masdevallia –Low to Medium
  • Miltonia –Medium
  • Odontoglossum –Medium
  • Oncidium –Medium to High
  • Paphiopedilum –Low to Medium
  • Phalaenopsis –Low to Medium
  • Vanda –Medium to High

Note on leaves:

  • If your leaves are wilted, slimy or have spots click on my links on Orchid Health: fungus.
  • If your leaves are turning yellow click on Why are my Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow?
  • If your leaves are turning really dark click on my link on Orchid Light Requirements.

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.

Dyed Orchids

Updated 2/27/17

Orchid naturally bloom in the most beautiful colors. Which is why injecting orchids, or any other plant, with dye is something I just don’t understand.  

What makes me particuly frustrated is that as orchid consumers (and mostly beginners) we are buying these orchids without knowing they are dyed and then left with the consequences which can be pretty severe (as shown below). If you own one and stumble upon this post – I want you to know that this is not your fault!!

The most common color orchids are dyed is blue which is shown above in various stages of dye. And the reason I am posting this at all is that I had a really sweet girl email me the following question;

“I got a dyed blue orchid and all the leaves fell off and now it’s seeping liquid out of all the nodes. It is still in bloom but what do I do?”

Below are pictures she sent me of her dyed blue orchid –

Pic of the dye on the bottom of orchid leaf. Can you see it at the bottom?

Pic of dyed liquid seeping out of orchid nodes

To be honest….I had no idea what was going on with this orchid (this was a few years ago). I am normally pretty good and answering questions from viewers (based on all the helpful advice I have gotten) but this one stumped me. First, I did not understand how every leaf could fall of an orchid and it could still “seem” to be alive. Second, I have NEVER seen liquid seeping out of orchid nodes.

So I asked one of my orchid gurus at Garden Heights Nursery, Barb Giblin. The following is what she said in a nut shell –

This is a technique some of the growers have come up with to make the plants sell better because they look so different. We haven’t seen evidence that it hurts the plants (until NOW), but the reality is that the blue color will not reappear in future blooms. The flowers will return to their natural white color in the future. No special care is needed, but try to avoid getting the dye on you! It is hard to wash off apparently (which is a strange thought because if it’s hard to wash off, then how is it good for an orchid?).

She said whatever they dyed it with, they either used too much or it was toxic. This is probably the cause of the leaves falling off (leaves typically fall off if an orchid if it is over watered and/or if water pools at the top of leaves and it rotted) and the reason it’s seeping liquid. The plant is literally expelling extra toxic dye in an attempt to save itself!!

She said there is hope for these plant if you want it to try to revive it.

Do this;

  • Cut the bloom stem off at its base. This will save its energy and help transfer any energy to the surviving plant.
  • Repot it immediately in straight charcoal to pull all the toxics out of the crown and roots. If you don’t have charcoal then repot it in normal orchid mix.

I hope this post helps if you are in a similar predicament and if not maybe it will discourage you from buying dyed plants in the future.

Please feel free to leave comments or questions.

Hannah

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