Savvy Chic

tidbits, thoughts, and ramblings. . .with a Mormon twist

Orchids July 12, 2007

Filed under: garden,garden tips,plants — savvychic @ 8:39 am

As posted on LDS Image

In the flowering plant world, orchids are the most diverse and have the most species. Orchids grow nearly everywhere, Antarctica and deserts being the exceptions. Orchids have a well-deserved reputation for being more difficult than your average flowering plant. . . but the rewards for your patience and diligence will be well worth it when you succeed.

In the past, growing orchids was a hobby only the wealthy could afford. Today, orchids can be grown by anyone who has an interest. And with the wealth of information available online, from hobbyist, and from your local garden store, picking an orchid that will work for you has never been easier. To find an orchid that will thrive in your environment, let’s explore some basic information.

Orchids can be divided into four types according to the growing conditions they require: epiphytes, lithophytes, saprophytes, and terrestrials. Most orchids are epiphytes, or air plants, and grow on trees. In your home, epiphyte orchids can be grown in bark, cork, pebbles, or marbles. Lithophytes cling tightly to rocks while saprophytes prefer mulch as they are accustomed to growing on the forest floor. Terrestrials grow in sand or soil, but still not the typical potting soil of most houseplants.

The leaves of an orchid will also tell you about it’s light and water preferences. Thick, wide dark green leaves prefer lots of sunlight and can tolerate dry roots. Tall, grass-like leaves prefer shade and need to stay moist, preferring a more humid environment. There are many types of orchids in between these two extremes. Keep in mind where these plants are native. This will give you clues to what they need to thrive elsewhere. Also, many houseplants do not like chlorinated water. Orchids may benefit from distilled or bottled water. You can use tap water, but let the water sit on the counter for a day or so to let the chlorine evaporate.

Orchids tolerate a wide range of temperatures. You’ll need to find out what your specific orchid species needs. Typically, the temperature you are comfortable at in your home will work for your plant. And as you may like a breeze, orchids prefer gently moving air to stagnant conditions.

The orchid flower can last from one week to four months, depending on the plant species. Some flowers are extremely fragrant, while others have no odor. There is great variation in the flower structure between plants. You can explore the many options in books and online!

The most famous of the orchids is the vanilla orchid. If you like vanilla flavoring, you owe your gratitude to the orchid family. The vanilla plant is the only orchid that is grown for food purposes.

Orchids are very rewarding plants to grow. With a little research about your specific orchid species and these general tips, you will be well on your way to a successful, thriving plant. If you choose to get more involved with orchids, you may consider joining an orchid growers society (locally or on-line– make sure you have your parents support in this so that they can keep you safe). Some orchids can live for many many years when given the right conditions. It won’t be long until you are the expert of your own orchid.

Want more information? Check out the sites I consulted:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchid

http://retirees.uwaterloo.ca/~jerry/orchids/orchfaq.html

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Gerbera Daisy June 1, 2007

Filed under: garden,garden tips,plants — savvychic @ 11:01 pm

 as posted on LDS Image

The Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) is a fun, whimsical, tender-perennial plant. The flowers bloom pink, red, orange, yellow, or white making this a versatile plant as well. While this plant has become popular in the last few years, it still remains finicky in it’s living environment. However, given the right conditions, it will blossom and bring smiles to those who love it.

The Gerbera makes a great patio container plant, or can be planted in a flowerbed. It needs full sun in the fall, winter, and spring, but may need partial shade in the summer. Keep the well-drained soil moist, though do not over-water. If planted in a container, there should be adequate drainage. Also, plant the daisy slightly higher than the soil level it came at in the container from the soil to avoid crown rot.

Gerberas like a loose, slightly acidic soil and will need occasional fertilizer. It flowers repeatedly throughout the growing season and is attractive to bees, butterflies, and even some birds. (Though deer do not like the daisies.)

Plant Gerberas with ornamental grasses, other daisies, and blue salvia. Make sure you pay attention to the spacing between plants so air can circulate. These plants need between 8-12 inches from the center of one plant to the center of the next. This helps prevent diseases and pest problems. If you do notice spots (leaf spot disease) or a whitish powdery substance (powdery mildew) on the leaves, you can treat the diseases with an anti-fungal from your local garden shop. Leaf miners, mites, and thrips are the critters who like this plant as much as you. Your local garden shop also has chemicals to help control the insects. However, it is always better to give your plant the environment it wants, so there isn’t a need to use toxic chemicals.

For more information, visit these websites:

http://www.growit.com/Features/growertalks0206.htm

http://davesgarden.com/pf/go/892/index.html

http://www.gerbera.org/