Orchids grow in many parts of the world, and use a different method of reproduction than other flowers and plants. Orchids have both male and female reproductive parts fused into a structure called a column. Orchids often also have a long modified petal called a labellum. Some orchids grow in the moist undergrowth of forests. Others use air roots to attach to the bark of living, dying or dead trees. Orchid care is not difficult. By using the right potting mix, the right fertilizer and watering properly, growing orchids is easy.
Orchids generally grow best in an orchid mix. Most orchid mixes use a variety of materials like fern fiber, tree bark, porous stone, peat moss and charcoal. Orchid media retain moisture, while preventing water from pooling around the roots. Most orchids are very sensitive to overwatering.
With the proper potting media, orchids can grow in most pots. However, orchids can grow very well either in hanging wire pots or in pots that have holes that allow their roots to extend beyond the orchid potting mix. These pots mimic the natural conditions of orchids that grow on tree branches and limbs in nature. When using pots that have holes which allow the roots to extend outside the pot, mist the exposed roots every few days.
Many orchid growers do not use fertilizer. As the tree bark and other organics in the orchid mix decompose, they usually provide adequate nutrition for most orchids. However, according to the University of Florida, if you grow orchids in a mix that does not contain much bark, using a 1-1-1 fertilizer can help your orchids.
Watering advice varies, depending on how you are growing your orchid. Orchids in smaller pots dry out more quickly and will need more frequent watering. Orchids in wire pots may need more water than those grown in clay pots, whiole orchids in clay pots may need more water than those in plastic pots. A general guideline is to water your orchid until water runs out the bottom. Do not water the plant again until the top of the orchid mix feels dry.
Orchids generally do best in partial sun. In nature, they grow under a tall forest canopy and receive light that ranges from direct sun to full shade, depending on the time of day. Some varieties of orchid, like Phalaenopsis, will burn easily under direct light; grow Phalenopsis orchids in the shade.