Orchids can be grown very easily in Colorado. Out Sunny Climate averages more than 300 days of sunshine per year. But remember that our light levels are very high and can easily burn plants. We also suffer from very low humidity and increasing the humidity levels will help you grow healthy orchids.
Many orchids bloom during the winter months which is particularly gratifying while outdoor plants are dormant and the weather is cold.
LIGHT – A south or east facing window is ideal for most types of orchids. Direct sunlight on leaves should be avoided in most cases. Fluorescent lights work very well with leaves 3-6 inches from the tubes. In a greenhouse, light levels need to be reduced to about 50%. The leaves of most orchids should be a medium green color. Yellow-green leaves may indicate excessive light. Leaves that are a very dark green, thin and brittle are not receiving enough light.
WATER – Since most orchids do not grow in soil but instead are potted in a very porous mix, 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 may require several days to a week, depending upon conditions. An easy way to determine when a plant requires water is by its weight. If the plant feels light, it may be time to water.
HUMIDITY – 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.
TEMPERATURE – Orchids, for the most part, do well with the same temperatures that are normally found in the home. 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. There are a few types that will not initiate flower buds unless nighttime temps are allowed to fall to 50 degrees or below.
FERTILIZER – Orchids are not heavy feeders and their roots burn easily. Many orchids are potted in a bark mix which will require a high nitrogen fertilizer such as 30-10-10.
PESTS & DISEASES – 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. This should prevent any of these problems. If you do 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.
For bug problems, first, try a 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 a one month period to do any good. If problems persist try Malathion or Orthene or Othenex. Read labels to see if these will kill the bugs you have. Othenex is also a fungicide and a miticide. 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!
Orchids can be very rewarding with some types that have flowers lasting many months. They are no more difficult to grow than most other houseplants once you learn their cultural requirements.
Here is some more specific information for the different types we tend to have in stock: