GROWING ORCHIDS IN COLORADO
Growing orchids in Colorado can be relatively easy. Our sunny climate averages more than 300 days of sunshine per year, which is a perfect growing condition for many plants. The light levels we experience can be quite bright and intense, which most orchids thrive in bright light. However, be careful because that light can quickly burn plants. You’ll also want to make sure you are increasing the humidity levels to ensure healthy orchid growth. Overall, growing orchids can be just as easy as any other houseplant with the proper care instructions. Here are some of the basics you’ll need to know for almost every orchid.
GENERAL ORCHID CARE
South or east-facing window is ideal for most types of orchids. Avoiding direct sunlight on the orchid is necessary to ensure your plant doesn’t get sunburnt. Orchids can grow quite well with fluorescent lighting. Place the plant 3-6 inches from the lights for the best result. The leaves of most orchids should be a medium green color. Yellow-green leaves may indicate excessive light. Leaves that are very dark green, thin, and brittle are not receiving enough light.
Since most orchids do not grow in soil, potting them in a very porous mix and a thorough wetting of the roots is crucial. Water the plants generously but NEVER allow the plant to stand in water. Most types should become almost dry before watering again. This drying out may require several days to a week, depending upon conditions. An easy way to determine when a plant needs water is by its weight. If the plant feels light, it may be time to water. If it’s heavy, it’s probably got enough water.
Suggested levels fall in the 40% to 60% range. Grouping plants together is one of the ways to increase humidity levels around them. Humidifiers are also used frequently, especially during our cold, dry winter months. Extra watering will not compensate for low humidity.
Average temperatures at home are exactly what orchids need. If temperatures are high, maintain extra air circulation to help cool the leaves. As a general rule, the temperature range for most orchids is between 50 and 90 degrees. A few types will not initiate flower buds unless nighttime temps are allowed to fall to 50 degrees or below.
Orchids are not heavy feeders, and their roots burn easily. Many orchids grow best in a bark mix, which will require a high nitrogen fertilizer such as 30-10-10.
PESTS & DISEASE
Most orchids can develop several types of bacteria and fungal problems. Air movement is the best solution. Place a small fan in with your plants. Proper air circulation should prevent any of these problems. If you notice what appears as a soft area on the leaves, try cinnamon powder sprinkled on an infected area or Neosporin ointment to help seal a wound.
If you experience bugs or pests, try straight rubbing alcohol mixed with a few drops of Ivory liquid. Spray directly on bugs or soak the entire plant, roots and all, for 15 minutes. Any bug problem will take at least four applications over one month to work correctly. If problems persist, try Malathion or Orthene or Othenex, which you can find at City Floral Garden Center. Be sure to read labels to see if these will kill the bugs you have, and be very careful with the chemicals. If you need help identifying your disease or pests, bring your plant into our store, and we will help you!