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Secrets Of Growing Orchids

Oct 12, 2007
The grower's task, and it is no easy one, is to set in motion the complicated growth processes of the orchid plant, and, through maintenance of proper balance, insure continuation of that process. Using the energy provided by light, the green leaf chlorophyll transforms the carbon dioxide from the air and the mineral salts from moisture into sugar and other carbohydrates. These energy carbohydrates are stored until needed either for rebuilding plant tissue or for flowering.

The pseudobulbs of some types, the large leathery leaves of others, and the slender grass-like leaves of orchids lacking pseudobulbs are the storage reservoirs. The cycle will continue only if the grower devotes the utmost attention to the special requirements of the orchid. The reward for his devotion comes when the brilliant bloom and beauty of the tropics is reproduced in the greenhouse.

One of the many points to be considered is the matter of how much light should be admitted. It must be decided whether to grow the plants 'soft' or 'hard,' to use the parlance of experienced growers. The amateur must make his own choice.

To grow 'soft' means to shade the plants from the sun so that the leaves remain a beautiful dark green. There can be no doubt that this method produces the most beautiful plants, but the quality of bloom is a question that cannot be answered so definitely. In 'soft' conditions care must be exercised not to shade to the point where flower growth will be hindered.

To grow 'hard' means to allow so much light that the leaves have decided overtones of yellow. This method, while marring the appearance of the plant, is said by its proponents to give increased bloom. Too much light must be avoided, since it will burn the plant and growth will be interrupted. Dry, yellow flower sheaths will at times result from such sunburn, and incipient buds will become steamy and subject to destruction by wet rot. Cutting off the very top of such a sheath with a sharp knife will allow air to reach the bud and may save it.

Once the amateur has made the choice between 'soft' and 'hard' methods, the subsequent treatment must be consistent. If much sun is provided, more moisture and air will be required. If the plants are grown with minimum sun they will require less moisture, but an increase in ventilation may be needed to keep the air sweet.

Too great an increase in heat during the winter is a common error of orchid growers. Plants store up energy during the daylight hours and give off or transpire energy at night. Increase in night heat increases transpiration. Shorter periods of daylight lessen the manufacture of energy.

If the plant loses more energy at night than it is able to store during the day, obviously it will suffer. Orchids are very susceptible to shock of any kind, and they take considerable time to recover - if they ever do. This danger must be borne in mind regarding sunburn, chilling, or energy deficit.

The problem of the amount of heat is closely allied to the matter of light. Most climates in the temperate zone require artificial heat in the orchid house to supplement that provided by the sun. Automatic controls simplify the matter, but they do not take the place of brainwork. The beginner must watch his plants carefully, combining all his knowledge of orchids with solicitous observation and a strong admixture of green thumb.

The grower should vary heat conditions to balance other conditions of the house and plants. As in most native habitats, the temperature can be some degrees lower in winter than in summer. This is another point on which there is difference of opinion.

Experimenting with orchids is extremely precarious because their life cycle is so long, five to seven years from seed to bloom, and the cause of damage may have been forgotten in the six or eight months before it is evident.

Such are some of the variables which come into play for the serious orchidist. Conquer these, and he stands a good chance of raising some wonderful blooms.
About the Author
How to Grow Breathtaking Orchids - Even If You've Never Raised One Before. Simply Orchid Plant Care Website Reveals All The Secrets.

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