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9 Lessons Learned Growing Orchids

That May Surprise You

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growing orchids

Growing Orchids: I’ve been reflecting on my orchid-growing journey. Here are 9 lessons I’ve learned along the way:

What I learned about life while growing orchids

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1. There are More Orchids Than the Ones Found at the Grocery Store

Before attending my first orchid show, I had no idea there were so many different types of orchids. Even better, I learned that I could care for may of them right in my very own house. I also learned that there were many that weren’t suited for the environment I could reasonably provide and were best left to those who could. Oh big, beautiful purple vanda, how I love you, but I can’t take you home with me. Buy only orchids that you can provide a healthy growing environment.

2. Try New Things

It was my sister-in-law who first suggested trying kokedama with my orchids. Before she mentioned it to me, I’d never even heard of it. Now, kokedama is one of my favorite ways to grow phalaneopsis orchids. And, my phals seem to enjoy it as well.

3. Fresh Starts Can Be Very Good

Starting over can be hard. New jobs, new homes, new schools, can be both exciting and terrifying. Orchids feel our pain. While they don’t like to be repotted, staying in the same fertilizer salt-saturated, decomposed soil is even worse. Orchids need plenty of air movement around their roots that fresh potting mix provides.

4. If at First You Don’t Succeed – Buy Another Orchid

I purchased two mini cattleya orchids – one bloomed and the other kept trying, but not succeeding. After a couple of years of shooting blanks, I was finally rewarded with some gorgeous blooms. Likely due to immaturity, this orchid took time before it was ready to bloom.

Take it from me, don’t give up on your orchids. If your orchid is resistant to blooming it may need time to mature, more like, or a change in temperature.

5. Joy in Every New Leaf and Root

While it’s true that flowers are the intended purpose of growing orchids, there is joy in every new leaf and root. An orchid in active growth is preparing to flower.

So, if your orchid isn’t in bloom, but you see a new pseudobulb or a new leaf, don’t despair. If properly cared for, flowers are on their way. For more tips on how to bloom orchids, click here.

6. Always Room for More – Orchids

While space may be limited, I’ve found that I can always find more room for more orchids.  I simply ran out of windowsill space and needed to get creative. For my husband that meant relinquishing the light system, I had given him so I could start growing orchids under lights. Thank you, Honey!

7. That’s My Favorite, No That’s My Favorite

A while back, I re-read some of my posts and noted that in several instances I had noted a favorite orchid. In each instance, they were different orchids, but I wasn’t lying. At that time, that was my favorite orchid. I fully admit to having several favorites: paphiopedilums, dendrobiums, cattleyas, and of course the ever-faithful phalaenopsis.

8. You Don’t Have to Know It All, Grow It All, Do It All or Love It All

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, made famous the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to become a true proficient in any field. I am here to tell you that while there may be a select few who have devoted 10,000 hours to orchid culture, you can successfully grow orchids without hardly putting in any time at all.

In fact, you don’t have to know it all to properly grow orchids. By becoming acquainted with a few basics (temperature, water, fertilizer, and light) you’ll be able to give proper care to your orchids

While I am tempted to grow every orchid genera that would thrive in my care – I don’t, and you don’t – need to try them all. Though I will say that growing a least a few different varieties is immensely satisfying.

Wow! You are telepathic as well as a great inspiration for orchid growers!!
You have read my mind completely in this article!
I live in the Balearics in Spain, and despite our amazing climate, it is still not appropriate for some orchid species. But I am learning..you cannot grow any plant that is not supposed to be in your climate. We see species imported into the garden centres that end up wilted on the shelves…so sad…but as you say, just the leaves alone are very special if you can’t find the way to have them flower again. We keep persevering!
Thanks again for your wise advice!

Lesley

9. You Don’t Have to Have a Greenhouse to Grow Beautiful Orchids

You may relate to my being intimidated by orchids. My thoughts were: I live in the desert – orchids need high humidity. I live in a 4-season climate – most orchids do not tolerate freezing temperatures. Great, I need a greenhouse if I want to grow orchids. While my concerns were valid, I’m glad they didn’t stop me from growing orchids.

I found that all of my obstacles to growing orchids could be overcome. I invested in a humidifier, humidistat, and fan. Orchids that need humidity over 50% I don’t buy. I don’t grow my orchids outdoors or in a greenhouse. Instead, I grow them indoors either by a window or under lights.

Whatever is holding you back from growing orchids, likely they can be overcome. To learn more about the tools I use to grow orchids, click here.

10. I Love Orchids

At the end of the day, I love orchids. I find them fascinating plants. There will always be more to learn and more orchids to try. More challenges in learning to care for them. But, one thing is for sure: I will never find them boring. Frustrating, sometimes. But, always interesting.

4 Comments
  1. John Heptonstall says:

    I enjoy your mailings. and appreciate all the good advice.

    I did try to buy your book, but apparently you do not accept credit cards and I do not have Pay.Pal.

    Regards, and very best wishes for the New Year.

    1. Anna says:

      John,
      Thank you for your kind words. At some point in the future, I will expand beyond PayPal to accommodate credit cards. Thanks for letting me know.
      A happy New Year to you as well!
      Anna

  2. Lesley says:

    Wow!You are telepathic as well as a great inspiration for orchid growers!!
    You have read my mind completely in this article!
    I live in the Balearics in Spain, and despite our amazing climate it is still not appropriate for some orchid species. But I am learning..you cannot grow any plant that is not supposed to be in your climate. We see species imported into the garden centres that end up wilted on the shelves…so sad…but as you say, just the leaves alone are very special if you can’t find the way to have them flower again. We keep persevering!
    Thanks again for your wise advise!

    1. Anna says:

      Lesley,
      Thanks for reaching out to me! I’d love to hear which orchid species you are able to grow in Spain. In the meantime, I’ll keep working on my telepathic skills 🙂
      Thanks again!
      Anna

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START HERE to Learn More About Caring for Orchids

Find Out What I Wish I Knew When I First Started Caring for Orchids

YES! THANK YOU!