Orchids are flowering plants or Angiosperms. They belong to the family Orchidaceae. From deserts to glaciers – they can be grown in diverse habitats. Orchids are unique in the fact that they require no soil to grow. It is this feature which makes them distinct from other plants.
Orchids grow in the wild. They survive in most extraordinary conditions like on rocks or in leaf litters on forest floors or are even found clung to the trees. Orchids are beautiful and known worldwide for their beauty. There are thousands of species of orchids growing freely in nature. These species vary widely in color, shape, size and smell. Some of them have a strong odor.
Orchids can be classified into 4 main types:
Saprophytes - grow in mulch or leaf litter
Lithophytes - grow on rocks
Epiphytes - grow on trees
Terrestrials - grow in soil or sand
Most plants fulfill their water requirements from the earth. However, it is different with orchids. Generally for orchids the water required is minimal. The specific water requirement depends upon the kind of species. Several thousands of species of orchids can be found in the world. The type of orchid and its occurrence determines how much watering is needed. Watering also depends upon the season.
Saprophytes are found in the leaf litter or mulch. Much less watering is done for saprophytes as they grow on ground. Epiphytes are the ones found clung to the trees. Terrestrial orchids grow in sand and their water requirement is slightly more than the saprophytes. This is because sand can drain the water. But it can makes small pores in the pot. Consequently roots get permanently submerged in the water and this causes them to rot. Thus, it is essential to maintain the water levels.
It is very important to control moisture content to grow orchids. It should be ensured that the soil is porous enough. It should be able to drain out the excess water and allow the plant to receive a good amount of air. It is also important to avoid water retention. The kind of pots used to plant orchids must be such that no water retention takes place. If the roots get submerged and remain so, the plant will die.
The required amount of watering orchids varies with the season as well. A little more water is required during the active flowering season. During winters the plant is not harmed even if no watering takes place. But it is not advisable to leave it entirely dry. A little watering helps in flowering. For growing orchids, humidity levels must be maintained between 40-70%. The humidity varies from their natural habitat.
In short, orchids need minimum water to thrive. They can be watered once or twice a week. However, the plant should never be drenched in water. Light spraying is more ideal for orchids. They are easy to grow if you are able to control the moisture and humidity content. In addition to this, some fertilizer can be administered in the growth medium.
Orchids can be transported from one place to another. They can be grown in such pots that their movement becomes easy. Orchids can be protected from bugs and insects merely by lightly wiping off the leaves with a wet cloth. With proper care you can grow orchids at home.