Orchid plants, a perfect house plant.

Orchids make perfect House plants.

Here’s a little about the Orchid plants we sell in our flower shops at Lamber de Bie Flowers.

At Lamber de Bie Flowers we have a love for all flowers, however orchids have a very special place in the hearts of our florists. We hope that this article will pass on a little of our passion for these wonderful flowers and make you enjoy your orchids as much as we do.

White phalaenopsis orchid plant
White phalaenopsis orchid plant makes a perfect stylish house plant

Orchid Care

Orchid care is more like an art than a science. Of course, you can easily get general directions on how to care for a particular orchid genus. For example, Cattleya needs medium bright light, or Miltonia likes intermediate temperature. However, there are many “fudge” factors to create the perfect condition for your very own growing environment. All elements need to complement one other for your orchid to thrive. You will also need to observe your plants to gauge their happiness with the current treatments. However do not be put off by this as most orchids do very well as houseplants and a little knowledge can often mean you have your orchid plants for many years, flowering once or twice a year for up to easily three months at a time.

Miltonia orchid flowers
Beautiful orchid flowers

Routine Orchid Care

Six elements are essential to your orchid care program. These elements are the ones that you provide your orchids on a daily/weekly/monthly basis—water, temperature, light, air movement, humidityand fertilizer. They all work together to ensure the health of your orchids.

1. Water

To water or not to water, that’s the question. Orchid casualties, most of the time, are caused by over-watering. So how much should you water? It will depend on your humidity, air movement and temperature. As a general for the average home once a week in small quantities. Make sure your orchid plant is not positioned right above a radiator or in front of a heat source as this will not only mean that the plant will dry out but also the dry air might burn leaves and flowers.

After watering your orchid plant always make sure there is no water remaining in the base of your outer pot. Placing it on the kitchen sink to drain all access water for an hour after watering before you place it back in your decoratice pot will avoid this problem.

2. Temperature

Finding out what type of orchids you have will give you a pretty good idea of what temperature it needs. Generally speaking, the temperature ranges are cool, intermediate and warm. In most homes the orchids do  well as long as they are not to close to any heat source. Orchids would be very happy in e.g. a not heated room like a hall or bedroom as long as the temperature does not go below 12 C.

3. Light

The leaves an orchid have can tell you a lot about the light level it needs. To make your life a bit easier, orchid growers categorize the light levels as low, medium and high. Most orchids are happy in a light position as long as there is no direct sunlight. Some direct sunlight early morning or late in the afternoon is no normally not a problem.

4. Air movement

If I put you in a glass jar with no wind, I bet you wouldn’t be very happy (or healthy, or able to stretch out). Orchids also need air movement to be healthy. The more humid a place is, the more essential air movement becomes.

5. Humidity

Humidity is just water in the air. Most orchids come from the Tropics, where the air is very humid. As the air in most homes is quite dry because of our central heating systems it is a good idea to spray the orchids daily with pure clean water. Best is to boil the water and than let it cool to room temperature.

I took this photo below in a flower shop in Tokyo wher you can see how they sprayed the foliage of the orchid plants twice a day. Never spray water on the flowers, only on the foliage and remember that water will drip onto the soil so you may need to reduce your watering if you spray daily.

Orchid plants
Orchid plants in a flower shop in Tokyo

5. Fertilize

Many people swear by the “weekly weakly” routine of fertilizing their orchid plants. But some orchids are more fertilizer-hungry than others and sometimes it is important to hold off giving any plant food to your orchids. I find a small dose (half of what is indicated on the orchid food) every week when in bud or in flower and only once every two to tree weeks when the plant is not producing flowers.

Stunning spider shape orchid flowers
Beautiful orchids for in your home from Lamber de Bie Flowers

Long Term Orchid Care

Your orchid care routine should also include some less frequent but equally important tasks. These are usually the on-demand tasks that happen once a year or once every several years.

1. Repotting

As kids out-grow their clothes, orchids also out-grow their pots. Proper orchid care needs to include periodic repotting. Your choice of potting materials is also critical the success of growing and blooming your plants. Special orchid compost is available in all good garden centre.

2. Propagating

After you have your plants for a while, you may want to make more orchids out of the original plant. You can produce more orchids by breeding, diving, planting keikis or planting cut stems. Read about how to breed and divide as well as plant keikis or cut stems.

3. Spike support

Congratulations! You see a spike coming out, which at least means you didn’t kill it! What should you do now to make sure the flowers come out beautifully? You don’t want to mess it up in this critical moment! When a spike appears you support it with a cane and tie the stem loose to the cane, make sure you do not restrict the stem and check if you need to loosen your ties when the orchid flower stem grows.

Happy growing!

Soft pink orchids
Pale pink dwarf phalaenopsis orchids from Lamber de Bie Flowers

The Phalaenopsis Orchid

Phalaenopsis is an orchid genus of approximately 60 species. Phalaenopsis is one of the most popular orchids in the trade, through the development of many artificial hybrids. The white Phalaenopsis Orchid has been the best selling houseplants trough the Dutch Flower auctions for the past two years.

The flowers of some Phalaenopsis orchids supposedly resemble moths in flight. For this reason, the species are sometimes called Moth orchids.

They are native throughout southeast Asia from the Himalayan mountains to the islands of Polillo, Palawan and Zamboanga del Norte in the island of Mindanao in the Philippines and northern Australia. Orchid Island of Taiwan is named after this genus.

Most are epiphytic shade plants; a few are lithophytes. In the wild, some species grow below the canopies of moist and humid lowland forests, protected against direct sunlight; others grow in seasonally dry or cool environments. The species have adapted individually to these three habitats.

Phalaenopsis shows a monopodial growth habit: a single growing stem produces one or two alternate, thick, fleshy, elliptical leaves a year from the top while the older, basal leaves drop off at the same rate. If very healthy, aPhalaenopsis plant can have up to ten or more leaves. The inflorescence, either a raceme or panicle, appears from the stem between the leaves. They bloom in their full glory for several weeks. If kept in the home, the flowers may last two to three months.

Phalaenopsis orchid is a super popular orchid because of its big, colorful and long-lasting flowers. Some of them are fragrant and some of them are miniature or compact.

Its growing requirements are quite simple and they can live comfortably at home with you as long as you provide some tender-loving care. (Don’t get carried away; they don’t like you like that.) People also love them because they grow relatively quickly and could flower up to twice or more per year. They require more patience than your typical garden plants that flower in a few weeks, but for orchids, they’re pretty fast. Flower spikes tend to re-flower if you cut them back to an old node, so your Phalaenopsis can brighten up your indoors for several seasons.  They can really be a centre piece of a room, adding a touch of exotic elegance. They are well-worth the investment, especially if they flower more than once.

White phalanopsis orchid
Pure white orchid flowers from the Phalaenopsis orchid. The number one best selling house plant trough the flower auction in Aalsmeer, Holland in 2011.

Phalaenopsis Orchid Care

As you may guess, coming from tropical places, Phalaenopsis orchids love a warm environment. During the day, they like to stay in the 70-86 °F (21-30 °C) range, while during the night, they like to be in low to mid 60s (16-20 °C). The day and night temperature difference is essential to set flower spikes, so the constant temperature typical in office buildings does not work for them. And because these orchids don’t have water storage organs, they like to be kept lightly moist at all times (but not drowning in water either!). Even though their light requirement is low, they do not do well in dark rooms. The best indoor place for them is by the window with morning sun or indirect sun all day.

Colors

Moth orchids come so many colors and markings that I can’t even list them all.

The only color you will not find is blue. Beware when you mail order “blue orchids” from vendors who claim that they have them (even if they show a photograph); in reality, they are simply purple or lavender colored orchids. Nowadays the trendy moth orchids are the harlequin Phalaenopsis. They either have dark maroon blotches, marbled patterns, fringed edges or any combination of these.

If you are a beginner, I definitely recommend that you start with Phalaenopsis orchids. It is very rewarding to grow and is extremely difficult to kill. (Except in a blender; that’s pretty easy.)

Happy growing!

Pink flowers Phalaenopsis orchids
The fantastic Phalaenopsis Orchid plants are available in many colours from white to pinks, purple , red and yellow and green.

Oncidium Orchids.

Oncidium,  is a genus that contains about 330 species of orchids from the subtribe Oncidiinae of the orchid family (Orchidaceae).

This genus was first described by Olof Swartz in 1800 with the orchid Oncidium altissimum, which has become the type species. Its name is derived from the Greek word “onkos”, meaning “swelling”. This refers to the callus at the lower lip.

Most species in the Oncidium genus are epiphytes, although some are lithophytes or terrestrials. They are widespread from northern Mexico, the Caribbean, and some parts of South Florida to South America. They usually occur in seasonally dry areas.

Yellow Oncidium Orchid plants
Bright yellow flowers on the Oncidium Orchid

The flowers of the Oncidium genus come in shades of yellow, red, white and pink. The petals are often ruffled on the edges, as is the lip. The lip is enormous, partially blocking the small petals and sepals.

Some Oncidium orchids are very long : Oncidum altissimum and Oncidium baueri can grow to a height of 5 m, while Oncidum sarcodes can reach 3 m.

They are known as ‘spray orchids’ among some florists. There are literally hundreds of excellent hybrids in the Oncidium alliance.

When people think about Oncidium orchids, sprays of little yellow dancing ladies come to their minds. These flowers have out-of-proportionally big lips that look like the skirt of evening gowns. When hundreds of them are on a single spike, it’s like the celebration of a festival.

But the dancing ladies orchid is only one of the diverse Oncidium orchids. In fact, with 600 species. Their flowers come in yellow, brown, white, red, pink and a combination of these colors.

How to Grow Oncidium

Oncidium orchids demand intermediate temperature and light level. You can grow them by a window facing anywhere except north. Under the skylight is also a good location. Provide them day temperature of 65–75°F (18-24°C) during the day and 55–65°F (13-18°C). You should water them year round, but make sure that they get sufficiently dry before watering them again because they don’t like to be wet all the time. If your growing area does not have 50-60% humidity, increase it by putting your oncidium orchids on a humidity tray. The leaves of oncidium tend to get black spots easily, so ensure that your growing area has enough air movement to keep these little spots under control.

Yellow orchids
Yellow Oncidium orchid flowers

Brassia Orchids

Do you think spiders are really cool? Then consider growing your own spider–spider orchid that is, genus Brassia.

Even if you don’t like spiders, you’ll love the Brassia orchid. It’s a beautiful, aromatic flower with long, slender“spider-leg” sepals. The upper petals are a light-yellow green and the lower sepals are creamy with a hint of rosy red. Maroon markings ring the blossoms and the lip, which is nearly translucent and resembles a pointy chin.

The Brassia orchid is native to the wet forests of tropical Central and South America and is named for a 19thcentury, British botanical illustrator, William Brass.

Brassia orchids can be cultivated outside the tropics as long as specific growth requirements are met. Give your “spiders” high humidity (50 to 70%) and bright, non noon day light. Bright and diffuse light is perfect for these orchids.

Pot your “spiders” in a mix of charcoal, peat moss, perlite and medium bark. Water regularly, particularly during their growing period (usually spring and summer). Brassia orchids produce pseudobulbs during this time, which are used to store energy for the plant. These pseudobulbs possess one to two flat, elongated leaves, and both leaves and pseudobulbs grow straight up. Brassiaplant can measure from 1 to 2 feet long, from pseubulb to leaf tip.

A spike emerges from the base of each pseudobulb which produces between 8 and 12 blossoms. These blossoms are usually around 3 inches in size and bloom alternately up the spike.

Brassia orchids need a lot of water while producing flowers, but don’t like to get too wet. Good air circulation is important, too, otherwise you will see brown spots on the leaves. A small fan can be used to facilitate circulation, but never let the fan blow directly onto the plant. Daytime temperatures should remain between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18C to 23C). Night time temperatures are only slightly cooler with a range of 55 to 65 (12C. to 18C.) degrees.

Creating beautiful flowers uses up a lot of energy, so, much like an athlete after a big game; Brassia orchids need to take a break after their growing period. At that point temperatures need to remain at the lower end of the 55 to 60 (12C. to 16C.) degree range. Less watering is required, perhaps as little as once a week, but don’t let the pseudopods or leaves dry out.

Take good care of your Brassia orchids and when summer arrives, you will be rewarded with dozens of fragrant and stunning blossoms. You can show them off to friends and family, or simply sit back and admire your handiwork. Either way, Brassia orchids won’t disappoint.

Happy growing!

Brassia Orchid
Brassia Orchid Flowers
Brassia Toscana Orchid
Bratonia Toscana Orchid
Spider orchid plant with flowers
Spider orchid house plants from Lamber de Bie Flowers

Cambria Orchid

The Cambria orchid is a hybrid with spectacular colors that is becoming very popular. It is not terribly difficult to grow and it excels at the average temperatures in most homes. The Cambria is also known as the Beallera orchid.

Cambria orchids are happy when room temperatures are in the 64 to 68 degree Fahrenheit ( 18C. to 20C.) range. They do well in a location which is nicely lit but with indirect sunlight. A window with a southern exposure is perfect for them. The Cambria Orchid does not like to have light at root level so a regular planting pot should be used and not a transparent one such as is used with some other species of orchids.

A humidity level that is quite high is needed for Cambria orchids–one in the range of 60 to 70 percent. There should be lots of holes in the planting medium for air circulation and good drying. The planting mixture should look dry before watering. You should give this plant some fertilizer with every third or fourth watering.

Cambria Orchid House plant
The beautiful Cambria Orchid Plant

When people are having trouble with Cambria orchids, the reason is most often over-watering. The plant will do much better in a traditional nursery pot with plenty of holes in the bottom than it will do in a more elaborate ornamental pot. If the plant came from the flower shop in an ornamental pot, it is going to be a good idea to repot the plant. An ornamental pot holds in too much water and doesn’t allow for enough air circulation around the roots. The orchid will need repotting approximately every two years. Just make sure your planting mixture is very porous and don’t pack it in the pot too tightly.

The thing that makes the Cambria orchids so popular is that it does not need anything special done in order for it to bloom. If you take good care of it, it will go ahead and bloom all on its own. The plant develops a bulbous at its base from which the flowers will grow. Any number up to four spikes may develop, and because they rise straight up from the base, there is lots of room for the showy flowers to be seen.

The Cambria orchid has remarkable flowers which can come in many mixed colors. Some of these include purple with white, as well as with light and dark reds and oranges with any number of white variations. Once a shoot has stopped blooming, you can remove it from the plant. The orchid will grow new shoots again, and then a hard, green pseudobulb will develop.

In spite of what many websites may say about Cambria orchids, it does not need to be put away in a cool room or not be watered as often in order for new blooms to grow. This is one of the reasons this plant is so good as a house plant. Just take good care of it in terms of light, water, and a little orchid fertilizer, and it will flower on its own when it is ready again.

Purple and Pink Cambria Orchid
Purple and Pink Cambria Orchid flower

Vanda Orchid

The purple Vanda orchid has become very popular in bridal bouquets and other wedding flowers over the past few years. Dispite the fact that the Vanda is available in an aray of colours the dark purple Vanda orchid is still the post popular of the vanda orchids, both as house plant as in wedding flowers. I fond the stunning deep purple colour of the vanda combines very good with deep red roses or other strong colours when creating a real statement with your flowers for your wedding day.

Popular orchid for wedding flowers in deep purple
The vanda orchid is popular in bridal flowers

Vanda orchids produce some of the most magnificent flowers in the world. As a result, they are ranked among the top five genera in horticulture. Native to India, Himalaya, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Southern China and Northern Australia, these plants produce large (1 to 4 inches in diameter) flowers in a wide variety of colors. The plants bloom every few months and the flowers can last for up to three weeks.

The genus name “Vanda” comes from the Sanskrit name for Vanda tessellate, and these plants, along with over 50 species in the genus, can be found in India, Himalaya, the Philippines, New Guinea, and other parts of Southeast Asia. In their native habitat, these plants grow on trees with their roots in the air. As they experience tropical downpours they absorb water into their thick fleshy roots, which will maintain them until the next downpour. In addition to producing beautiful blooms, these plants are essential for growers who produce hybrid plants for cut flowers. All Vanda orchids have monopodial growth habits and produce growth from the crown of the plant.

Vanda orchids like daytime temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit  (24C. – 29C.) and night time temperatures around 65-75 (18C. – 24C.) degrees. These plants like full morning sun but need to be shaded at noon and in the early afternoon. If your plant’s leaves are light green, they are in the right amount of sun. Dark green leaves, however, mean you need to move the plant to a sunnier location.

Vanda orchids are mostly epiphytes and produce a lot of aerial roots. You can grow these beauties in a pot or in a hanging basket with medium or coarse fir bark. Potted orchids can be watered once or twice a week. Hanging basket orchids will need to be watered more often, but let the roots dry a little between waterings. Also, water your plants early in the morning, so the leaves will be dry by nightfall.

Humidity should be maintained at 80%. In the home, place the Vanda orchids in a tray of pebbles filled with water. Feed these plants all year round with a high nitrogen fertilizer. Mix one teaspoon in a gallon of water and feed once a month.

Unfortunately, many Vanda orchids are endangered, because their natural habitat has been destroyed. Vanda coerulea are in particular trouble, and it is against the law to export any Blue Orchid that has been collected from the wild.

Purple Orchid Flowers
Purple Vanda Orchids
Bright purple orchid plant
Purple is the most common Vanda Orchid, however this orchid is available in a variety of colours.

Miltonia Orchids

Miltonia Orchid House Plant
Miltonia Orchid comes in many colours from almost white to pink and deep red.

When people talk about Miltonia orchids, they usually refer to both Miltonia and Miltoniopsisorchids. The reality is that these two types of orchids come from different places and have almost opposite requirements intemperature and light. People also use the nick name “pansy orchid” to refer to both Miltonia and Miltoniopsis, but in fact Miltonia species looks nothing like the garden flower pansy. Miltoniopsis is the one that look like the sweet-looking pansy.

Why the confusion? Because some time ago, these two orchids belong to the same genus, Miltonia. Growers distinguished the two by referring to the now Miltoniopsis as “cool-growing” or “Columbian” Miltonia, even though Miltoniopsis orchids are not necessarily cool growing nor from Columbia. Then one day, some taxonomists say, “Enough is enough!” and created the genus Miltoniopsis. But you think that solved the confusion problem? Nothing is that straightforward in the taxonomy world! After the separation, the hybrids between Miltoniopsis and Miltonia orchids retain the name Miltonia, even when some of them clearly have Miltoniopsis heritage and have the pansy appearance.

Orchids as house plants
Miltonia orchids make perfect indoor plants

At Lamber de Bie Flowers, with their flower shops in Waterford and Kilkenny you will find orchids both as house plants and as cut flowers almost all year round. It is our love for these amazing flowers that makes us look not only for new varieties but also for clear information on how to look after your orchids. If you have any questions regarding the care of your orchids, contact us or call into our flower shops and we will do all we can to help and find out specific information about your orchids when needed.

Lamber de Bie flowers, Kilkenny. kilkenny@lamberdebie.com +353 (0)56-7770161

Lamber de Bie flowers, Waterford. waterford@lamberdebie.com +353 (0)51-379440

www.lamberdebie.com

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8 thoughts on “Orchid plants, a perfect house plant.

  1. Hi Lamber, what a brilliant article and beautiful photographs. I always wanted to know how not to kill my lovely orchids – I’m on number three now, and this one (so far!) is happy with me. I have a question: what do I do with the flower stem when the flowers are finished and have dropped off?
    Thanks Lamber, I love reading your posts.
    Eimear

  2. Hi Eimear,
    If you are talking of the Phalaenopsis orchid, you can cut out the spike (this is what we call the stem that produces all flowers) leaving the bottom 2 to 3 inches remaining. New spikes will appear from the dormant eyes on the old spike.
    All it needs now two things from you; Patience and TLC.
    Lamber.

  3. Hi, it was so helpful informations about orchids as I love them. I have some orchids till now not knowing their names exactly. Can you please tell me the things needed in an orchid pot?

  4. hello lamber im ynah from Philippines im so happy reading ur post… coz i love orchids, because of ur post i learn more on hiw to take good care of my orchids. thanks a lot… God bless

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