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Orchid care, the word is very famous among orchid lovers. Because they have many problems. Do you like to grow orchids? When you ask that question from someone, 99% say yes!. Because orchids are so much beautiful to grow as houseplants. That is the king among the houseplant. Yes! That is true you can grow anything that you need, but without a proper knowledge of orchid care, it is not going to be a success story. So this orchid care guide gives you all the knowledge for general orchids care practices. First thing is first. Before learning orchid care, we have to learn about what the orchid is? If you are a beginner, this is the right orchid care guide.

Orchids belong to Orchidaceae family and it is a monocotyledonous perennial plant. Normally in commercial cultivations, hybrid orchid plants used. There are 70% of fragrant flowering species in orchids. The plant mainly uses as an ornamental plant, in additionally as medicinal and spices plant (Ex:- Vanilla). The orchids divide into two orchids types according to their growth habit. They are monopodial and sympodial orchids. Let's see how to identify them. Knowledge of growth habit is very important when you are going to do re-potting. Orchid repotting is a major practice in orchid care.



Monopodial Orchids

This orchid type has one main stem and one apical bud.also it has a vertical growing point. In additionally, monopodial orchids do not produce pseudobulbs. That’s mean you cannot have a baby orchid plant through pseudobulbs from monopodial orchids. Mainly, orchid genera such as Phalaenopsis, Renanthera, Vanda, Ascocendra, and Aracnis include into monopodial growth habit.

Sympodial orchids

When considering about sympodial orchids, they don't have an identical main stem. They have a horizontal rhizome and have a horizontal growing point. The new shoots come from that horizontal rhizome. As well they produce pseudobulbs, as a food storing part. Orchid genera such as Dendrobium, Cattleya, Cymbidium, and Oncidium have a sympodial growth habit. In additionally, orchids divide into two groups according to where they grow. They are epiphytic orchids and terrestrial orchids. Knowing these things is very important, because, we are going to acclimatize these plants as houseplants. Therefore, it is very important to know their natural habitats. So we can make a natural habitat as they need for a better growth. So, that is a very important orchid care practice.

Epiphytic orchids

These orchids’ types grow above ground, on tree branches, and on rocks. But, they are not parasitic plants. They collect nutrients, water from the air. Dendrobium, Cattleya, Oncidium, Vanda, and Phalaenopsis like orchid genera belong to epiphytic growth habit. If you are going to grow an epiphytic plant you need to know their growing habit to facilitate good orchid care practices.

Terrestrial orchids

These orchids’ types grow on soil. There are more than 200 species in terrestrial orchids. Most common Aracnis, Epidendrum and Spathoglotis genera consist of a terrestrial growth habit. The orchids are classified as various genera according to their features of plant and flower.

Dendrobium

Dendrobium has fleshy or wiry stems. Racemes of flowers are solitary or numerous. Dendrobium produces pseudobulbs to store food and water. This variety performs under cool to warm condition with 40% shade level and produce tiny to large flowers with moth shape. Dendrobium can further classify into 3 types according to the shape of the flower. See dendrobium orchid care guide here

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis Type

Phalaenopsis type Dendrobium orchid grows about 2 – 2½ feet in height and produces round and moth shape large flowers with overlapping sepals and petals. They can produce 10 – 15 flowers on a single raceme. Flowers harvested up to 5 years continuously after beginning to flowering.

ExDendrobium phalaenopsis, Dendrobium bigibbum, Dendrobium lady constance.

Dendrobium Cane type

Cane type Dendrobium orchid produces long raceme of spidery – shape flowers with thin, long twisted and waved sepals and petals. Produce 20 – 25 flowers per raceme, do not have much value as cut flower but have a good vigor.

Dendrobium Intermediate type

Intermediate type Dendrobium orchid produced by hybridization of Phalaenopsis and cane types. This gives intermediate flower characters of the previous mention two types. 5 – 6 inflorescences are possible to harvest per year. Mostly used as a cut flower.

Vanda orchids

Vandaceous orchids mostly include into the terrestrial type. They have one stem with one growing point. The plants perform well under warm and sunlight condition. Produce very colorful flowers with various colure patterns. There are three main types according to the leaves shape.

Strapped type Vanda

Strapped types Vanda produce erect plants with strap-shaped broad leaves. The flower has a good texture, thick petals and flower spikes with long stalks. Plants have a 2-2½ months flowering season. Produced less number of inflorescences in the lifetime compared to other orchids. Therefore, individual cultivations are not profitable, but Dendrobium can cultivate as a single cultivation.

Ex- Vanda rothschildiana, Vanda manilla, Vanda ellen noa

Terete Vanda

The terete Vandas produce erect and the fleshy leaves with more or less cylindrical shape under 100% sunlight. Morning sunlight is very important to produce the flowers. The plant can grow as an outdoor plant. The support needs to limit up to three feet.  After growing three feet plant bend to the ground. So, it acts as stimulation to blooming of the flowers.
Ex- Vanda agens joaquim

Semi terete Vanda

The Semi terete Vandas produce intermediate flower and leaf characters of strap type and terete type Vanda.

Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis include into monopodial type orchids. Therefore, Phalaenopsis consist with lack of pseudobulbs or similar storage organs. These plants consist of short stem cover by fleshy leaves and produce an abundance of plump roots. Phalaenopsis commonly produces inflorescences consist of a few large moths like flowers. It is important to supply a medium light about 60-70 % shade level for a better growth. After falling of the flowers in the inflorescence can cut it above a node in the cane then new inflorescence can emerge only in Phalaenopsis. Read more about Phalaenopsis care.


Oncidium

Oncidium commonly calls as “Butterfly Orchids” or  Kandyan dancer. Because it looks like a Butterfly or Kandyan dancer. It produces flat and short pseudobulbs per plant and consists with large flowers with ruffled edges on their petals. There are various colors like white, yellow, pink, red and maroon.

Cattleya

Catteleya consists of 3 to 4 pseudobulbs and each flower stalk originates from a pseudobulb and a special character is producing 3 to 4 large, attractive flowers per raceme. To have plantlets, need 4 – 5 years. Cattleya flower demand and value is very high in the commercial market, but vas life of the flower is very low, therefore, minimum usage as a cut flowers. This is most popular as a pot plant.

Cymbidium

Cymbidium orchid belongs to sympodial and epiphytic growth habit. They are producing horizontal stem with pseudobulbs. They prefer to grow as hanging on branches of trees. And also, they prefer a cooler climate to produce flowers. The cold environment is better to have a high lowering rate.

Orchid Propagation

The orchids propagated by sexually and asexually. Mostly, tissue cultured plants use to produce compot (Compact pot) and individual plants commercially.

Sexual Orchid propagation

Orchids sexually propagate by seeds. Artificial pollination practice to perform the sexual propagation of orchids. After successful pollination, the ovary enlarges gradually forming the seed pod that contains millions of seeds. Seeds contain only the embryo, therefore, needs to germinate in an artificial nutrient media for raising seedlings. New varieties can develop through hybridization of two related genera.

Vegetative Orchid propagation

Orchids asexually propagate by various kinds of propagules that produce by plant within their lifetime. Following parts use to propagate orchid. This is an important orchid care practice. Let’s see what the parts are.

Division Propagation

The divisions produce in sympodial type orchids. When producing many pseudobulbs, they trend to outgrow from the pot. So, removing 2 or 3 pseudobulbs, we can make new plant pots, but need careful to remain at least 3 – 4 pseudobulbs to the mother plant. If not mother plant is going to weak.

Ex: – Dendrobium, Cattleya, Oncidium

Top cuttings

Top cuttings produce by removing the top part of the plant, but at least 3 areal roots should remain into the top cutting.

Arial shoots

Most Dendrobiums are producing aerial shoots or pseudobulbs without leaves. Therefore, those shoots can remove from the mother plant and produce several plant pots.

Offshoots

Offshoots produce by sympodial types, which produce from the base of the pseudobulbs.in here; those offshoots can separate and plant as a new plant.

Pseudobulbs

Old pseudobulbs of sympodial orchids can use as propagules. They can cut into 2 – 3 parts and grow in a sand medium. After 2 – 3 months, new shoots raise.

Environmental factors for orchid care

Temperature, Humidity, and light are mainly impact on the production of orchid. So orchid care is difficult with those factors. But we can control them using shade house or giving suitable conditions.

Optimum Temperature for Orchid care


Day temperature 30ºC and night temperature 15ºC are good to produce a good healthy plant and an inflorescence. Especially the 10ºC temperature variation affects to result in a healthy plant. But, need various temperature ranges for different orchid types.


temperature requirement for orchid care

Optimum Humidity for Orchid care

75 -80% of humidity level need to control for good growth. If bulbs seem thick in the plant, that indicates moisture level in the medium is good.

Shade


Different shade levels affected to produce a healthy inflorescence according to the type of orchids. 

Shade requirement for orchid care

When there is a good shade, heavy green color leaves can obtain, but the low amount of flowers and succulent plant result in low temperature. If there are heavy sunlight, purple color sun burning patches also results.

fertilizer requirement for orchid care

After harvesting need to add fertilizer in a similar ratio like 20: 20: 20 (N: P: K). See the end of the article for recommended fertilizers. If it requires adding water after foliar application, water should be added after 4 hours. Organic fertilizers should add once a week.


Ex: – Maxsicrop, Agricrop or (use any other suitable one)

Optimum Water application for Orchid care

Better time is to apply water is 8 – 9 a. m. Chlorinated water should not apply, because the quality and color of the flowers may change. you have to wet aerial roots and leaves well. If water applies in the evening, it should do before 4 p. m.

Growing of Dendrobium Orchids & acclimatization of orchid tissue cultured plants

removing agar from orchid plantlets
The tissue cultured seedlings in a glass bottle about one year after subculturing to develop the roots; those need to pick out into compot (community pot / compact pot). The tissue cultured bottles need to keep for a week out of the laboratory and the seedlings should take out with the help of a bent wire or any helpful equipment, attached medium and dried leaves should remove. Next they the plantlets need to wash using water. After that, the remaining agar should remove by immersing in lukewarm water. Subsequently, seedlings immerse in a fungicide solution for about 2 min and allow for air drying on papers for about 12 hrs.

 Preparation of compot (community pot)  

orhid community pot making
Preparation of compot
After acclimatization of the plantlets, they should introduce to the 4-inch diameter community pot (compot). The medium should consist of brick pieces1: sand 1: charcoal 1: coir dust 2. All the components required for the medium should sieve using 2 mm mesh, and then sieved media should again sieve using 1.5 mm mesh, then the remaining portion on the mesh should take for the preparation of media. After mixing the components according to the above proportions, it should steam sterilize for about 45 minutes.


The bottom of the compot should fill by ½ inch brick pieces and then a piece of green net is laid on that, and then fills by the sterilized medium. The air-dried orchid plantlets plant using a hand tool. 30 – 40 plantlets should plant in one compot.

Two-inch plant potting

When the compot (compact pot) plantlets reaching up to 2 inches sized, they can introduce into the 2-inch clay pots which have air pores.

Preparation of orchid 2-inch pots
Preparation of 2-inch pot

Sterilized threshed coconut chips can use as the medium for the 2-inch pot. The coconut chips with the size of 2 x 2 inch obtain by removing the outer layer and they should steam sterilize and flatted using a hammer. Then they should wrap around the roots of the plantlets and insert into the pot and plantlets should fix to the pot using 2 or 3 charcoal pieces. These plants can keep in 2-inch pots until they reach up to the height of 5 inches.

Preparation of 5-inch pots for orchid
Preparation of 5-inch pots

Five-inch pot planting


Granite chips 1: charcoal 1: chips 1: Coir dusts 1 should use to prepare the media. They mix together and use to fill the pots. Before transferring plants into the 5-inch pots the preparation of pots should be done. A Bamboo stick or palm tree stem with a length of 12 inches should tie to the pot and 3/4 height of the pot should fill with medium. Then the plant must dip in a fungicide solution (Captan or..) and place near to the support, Also use a Sulfur solution to prevent mite damages. The roots of the plant should cover with the medium. The plant is tied to support using a loose knot. When the plantlets in 2-inch pots are reaching to desirable height, they need to transfer into the 5-inch clay pots. Here it is doing it for vanda.

Repotting of Dendrobium Orchid

When the orchid plants are growing out of the pots, they need to repot again. Tile pieces, coconut pieces and charcoal 1:1 ratio should use as the potting medium, before repotting the plant, staking should do as mentioned above to give a support to the plant.

Plants should uproot carefully and all the dead leaves and roots must remove. They separate into divisions containing 3 – 4 bulbs. The cut surfaces should treat with a fungicide (Captan, Thiram or any suitable brand). Finally, they must plant in suitable pots considering the type of plant.
planting of phalaenopsis orchids
Planting of Phalaenopsis orchids

Planting of Phalaenopsis orchids



Phalaenopsis are short stem, epiphytic orchid. So they mostly prefer to hang grow on small perforated pots and/or mounted on chunks of tree fern fiber. Use leaf molds 1: pinus bark pieces 1: Tree fern bark pieces 1:  mixture as the media. 4-inch pots should use to transplanting before that plants must dip in a fungicide solution.

planting of tolumnia orchid
Planting of Tolumnia

Planting of Tolumnia

Finus pieces 1: Meevana pieces 1: coir dust 1 mixture can use as above.



Diseases in orchid cultivation and Orchid care

Crown Rot

It is a fungal disease caused by Phytophthora palmivora. So, It can observe especially during the rainy season. Water soaked patches on the leaves of the plant can observe and those patches turn in to brown color. Then the patches spread to the lower parts of the plant.

Bacterial rot

Bacterial rot disease can see in the various parts of the plants, and the water soak patches appear later, the patches become larger and turn in to brown color. You can use “Cu” based fungicide to stop the spreading of the disease.

Damping off

Phythium and Sclerotium are causative organisms of the disease and it affects especially to the small plantlets, beginning from the base of the plantlets turns in to brown, beginning from the base of the plantlets turns in to brown and black color and later dying plantlets can observe as disease symptoms. Overhead irrigation is the major cause for the disease.

Leaf Yellow Blotch

The causative agent for this disease is Pseudocercospora dendrobii, and the disease spread fast in the rainy season. We can see yellow color patches on mature leaves and later, they turn in to black and finally leaves fall.

Pest in orchid cultivation

Spider Mites

Soft-bodied insects which fed on the underside of the leaves, spider mites are red, orange, and even whitish in color. as a result of damage, the symptoms of injury can identify as flecking, discoloration (bronzing) and scorching of leaves. Incidence can control by spraying of 80% Sulpher, Abamectin, Hexythiazox.

Stem Borer

Brownish moth laid eggs on the leaves and hatched larvae bore into the stem and feed on the internal tissues. Tiny, brownish holes can observe on the pseudobulbs in attacked plants. Those incidences can identify as a stem borer attack. It can control by spraying Dizinone like pesticides when the new shoots are forming.

o Slugs and Snails

They eat succulent parts of the plants. Also, they act in the night and hide in the medium during the daytime. Therefore, proper sanitation and hand picking should practice to minimize the damage and baits containing metaldehyde can use as a chemical control.

Orchid Yellow Beetle

Lema pectoralis is 8 mm length beetle and its larval stages damage to the plant. Beetle and larval stages fed on immature leaves and flower buds. Pesticides such as Imidacloprid can spray as control measures.

Conclusion

We all love for Orchids. But without a proper knowledge of orchid care practices, we cannot make a healthy orchid plant. It is better to know all about the plant including their natural habitat, nutrient requirements, climate, and all other necessary factors to make a healthy orchid plant.


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