During the middle of winter, beautiful indoor orchids are often sold in Baltimore’s garden centers and specialty stores. Their bright, colorful blooms certainly brighten winter and to buy one is tempting. But, make sure you can accommodate their needs by providing them with the proper light, humidity and temperature.
There are two types of indoor orchids commonly sold: Moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) and Lady’s Slipper (Paphiopedilum). Make sure you know which type you are purchasing. Moth orchids (also called the White orchid) are often white or pale purple, and sometimes striped, as in the photo above. They prefer warm climates. These orchids can bloom twice each year and the flowers are long lasting. The Lady’s Slipper orchid is less gentle looking but has more flamboyant blooms. This plant gets the name from a pouch on the lower part of the flower that can look like a little shoe. The ones with variegated leaves are warm growing while those with solid, dark colored leaves prefer cooler temperatures.
Lady’ slipper orchid. (photo by Orchi)
To care for your indoor orchid, consider light, humidity and temperature. Filtered light (as comes through a curtain) is best for orchids. Direct sunlight may burn the delicate leaves, but if there is not enough light the flowers won’t bloom. Humidity is also important, particularly in winter when central heating can cause dry air in your home or office. Add humidity by gently misting the plant once a day in addition to a regular weekly watering. Do this in the morning because the plant may become diseased if it is wet during the cooler nighttime hours. Most warm growing orchids can do fine in the temperatures of an average home (in the 70-80 degree range), but to bloom they need nighttime temperatures of about 15 degrees less than the day temperature. Some Lady’s Slipper orchids (those with solid color leaves) are from cooler climates and need daytime temperatures in the 60s.
Lady’s slipper orchid (photo by Bouba)
After blooming, the orchid may appear dormant for a few months. Be patient and keep taking care of it. Slow down the watering, but don’t completely neglect it. Many orchids will bloom again if the conditions are right.
If you are looking for an orchid to start with, the Towson Trader Joe’s grocery store has lovely ones for sale. Find your nearest Trader Joe’s by entering your zip code into their store finder.
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