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Home > Types of Plants > Orchids
Orchids in Gardening
Orchids Orchids grow under conditions of high humidity. They can be cultivated in green houses by artificially creating such conditions. They grow in the crevices of rocks or is moss covered branches or pockets of branches where well rotted humus has settled. The normal period of bloom is from March- April to November- December. Due to the fact that the roots of orchids cling to tree bark, some believe they are parasites; but orchid lovers object to this statement and explain with pride that the orchids derive their food from air and light and in some cases from well rotted humus. An orchid is particular about its environment. Its delicately pretty blossoms with unusual forms looks exotic. It is very costly as it is comparatively rare. It is difficult to be propagated from seed. Its commercial propagation is of recent introduction. It has not yet become a common garden plant. It is a rare presentation gift and a prized possession. Its blooming in your garden is an exciting event, and is a very rewarding experience. Orchids respond favourably to those who are kind and gentle to them and anyone to whom orchids have shown such partiality cannot but miss them when separated from them. Orchids are very sensitive to their environment and immediately express their displeasure by not producing flowers, for which the gardener may have waited anxiously for a full year.

A great disservice is done to the orchids by those who hang them up in baskets, exposed to the sun and wind. When collected from the forest, they are lush green and succulent with buds swelling as if with the joy of life; but soon they lose colour and vigour and eventually die. Orchids need protection from direct sunshine particularly in the afternoon. They also need protection from cold and hot winds. A sheltered place with morning sunlight only as a provision for plenty of water ( in absence of rainfall) is required. In India, orchids mainly grow in Darjeeling, Kerala, Coorg, Bangalore, Himachal Pradesh and the North East.

There are orchids which grow upon trees and have their roots exposed to air are called epiphytes. And there are others which have their roots in soil known as terrestrial or ground orchids.

Epiphytic Orchids :

Epiphytic orchids are grown on trees which get covered with moss, like plum, peach. Apricot, oak, rhododendron or which have heavy shade, like the mango, ficus, raintree etc. In the Kangra valley, as you drive from Kangra to Dalhousie, you can see rynchostylis retusa, the ` foxtail orchid`, growing beautifully on the roadside, ficus trees in April- June. As a substitute to trees, the orchids can be grown on pieces of wood. The piece of wood of 30-40 cms long and about 10-15cms diameter, should not have a very smooth surface. Its bark should be retained intact. It is better if the piece is well decayed. Alternatively, the piece maybe slightly burnt in hot wood ashes. Roots take to such wood much better than the one with fresh, tender, smooth surface. In dry conditions it is better to cover the root with moss or gunny bags which is kept moist. In wet conditions or during the heavy rains, it is better not to cover these roots as they are likely to get suffocated and tend to rot.

Ground Orchids

For ground orchids, the soil mixture should be very light, stimulating the natural conditions, as far as possible, of humus and charcoal. A good mixture is well decayed leaf mould (6parts), charcoal powder or ash (one part), bark pieces (2pieces) and charcoal pieces( 1 part). To this mixture add one part of well rotted cowdung manure and one part loam for Phaius, Cypripedium and also for Calanthe.

Identification of Orchids

A layman might not know how to identify an orchid from another flower. Taking advantage of the ignorance of many, people may try to pass off any unusual looking flower as an orchid.

An orchid has three sepals and three petals and has a very striking unusual form like a lady`s slipper in Lady`s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium) or like a spider in Spider Orchid ( Onicidum) or with a bright dot looking like an eye in Dendrobium fimbriatum var.

Containers and Arrangements

The orchids can be beautifully grown in different types of containers of bamboo, wood or earthenware. An arrangement of orchids was made on a plum tree which did not give fruit and was cut from the base and planted in the ground. The orchids were tied on it at different places and also hung from the tips. Morning sunshine with no wind is ideal for orchids.

The keeping quality of orchids as a cut flower is unrivalled. The lower spray by itself is nature`s flower arrangement.

Pests and diseases:

The commonest pests which afflict orchids are aphids, bugs, scales and thrips. Orchids are also prone to leaf spots. The spots maybe formed on the leaf petiole, pseudo -bulbs or other aerial parts.
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