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Gardening With Gutner: Orchids

By Mark Saidnawey, WBZ-TV Gardening Expert
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BOSTON (CBS) – We have all owned an orchid at one point or another. They are one of the most beautiful flowers and with proper care and growing conditions will thrive for several years in your home, I for one have a plant that my mother had dating back to the late 70′s.

Below is some basic information and care of orchids. If you have any specific questions you can contact me at mark@pembertonfarms.com or the Massachusetts Orchid Society at www.massorchid.org

What are Orchids?

The orchid family is one of the largest groups of flowering plants on the planet. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica and in almost every conceivable habitat. With around 30,000 species growing in the wild and well over 100,000 man-made hybrids there is no shortage of choice in the orchid world!

WBZ-TV Chief Meteorologist Todd Gutner reports:

The highest density of orchids grow in the rainforests all over the world, loving the humidity and shaded provided by these environments. Not all orchids like hot conditions, though. Many need cooler climates, as where they grow is at high altitudes in the mountains where the temperatures can drop very low at night.

As forest dwelling plants, many orchids grow as ‘epiphytes’, which means that they grow on the trees, clinging on with thick aerial roots and storing water in either fleshy leaves or thickened stems called ‘pseudobulbs’. There are also many orchids that grow in the ground, including our own native British species. These are know as ‘terrestrials’.

The orchid family is certainly the most diverse group of plants with so many various shapes, sizes, colors and patterns to their stunning and often extraordinary blooms. Whatever your taste in flowers, there is certainly something for everyone in the orchid kingdom.

Orchid Care Tips:

Orchids DO NOT direct sun, especially in summer as their leaves can burn so keep them in dappled shade except inside your home in the winter when the sun is not so strong.

Rainforests are naturally humid places so to create this at home you can grow other suitable companion plants such as ferns and air plants with your orchids, mist the foliage several times a week and stand the pots on damp pebbles from where the moisture will evaporate around the plants.

When it comes to watering the plants, do not rely on them taking up water from underneath the pot as this can lead to the compost becoming too wet. Instead take your plant to the sink and water from above, letting it run through the open bark-based compost. This is usually done 1-2 times a week with a little houseplant fertilizer every 3rd watering in the summer.

Enjoy and happy planting!

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