The phalaenopsis orchid is the most popular orchid because of its ease of care and its blooms can last for months. Phalaenopsis orchids can handle temperatures from 55 to 70 degrees, but like humidity from 50-75 percent. Using a water-filled tray of pebbles and misting the roots occasionally will help in the winter. Phalenopses do not need as much light as other orchid varieties such as cattelyas or oncidiums.
Care: Water phals early in the day and always wipe offf any water left on the leaves or in the crown of the plant (if left overnight this could lead to crownrot). Fertilize every two weeks when the plant is not in bloom. As the blooms all open, move the phal to an even lower light location. This will slow the plant down in growth and hold the blooms as long as possible. When all the blooms are gone, cut the bloom stalk back as close to where it joins the plant as possible. This will enable new buds to start building. Feed the plant every other time you water to encourage bud growth. Also up the light slightly. Water thoroughly and do not water again until the plant is nearly dry throughout the pot. Repotting is best in the spring.
Even though the flower of oncidium orchids are small, the prolific number of blooms make quite a spectacular display. The oncidium family of spray-type orchids includes Miltassia, Burregeara, Colmanara, and Allcara. Plants can be large or small and produce large or small flowers with most falling somewhere in between. Color range varies but is typically yellow or pink/rose. What makes these orchids unique is their exotic markings. Some are sweetly fragrant and at least one popular hybrid has achieved fame from its fragrance alone, the "chocolate" orchid called Sherry Baby.
Care: Sufficient light is important for growth and flower production. Abundant air movement and 40-75 percent humidity. Whenever outside growing conditions are available, the plant will respond quicker to budding.
Dendrobium is one of the largest families of orchids with around 1000 species. Dendrobiums are reliable orchids that can add a focal point to any room without being too difficult to grow. Dendrobiums can produce sprays of long-lasting flowers several times a year. From large varieties to minatures, they require bright filtered light when growing.
Care: The ideal humidity for dendrobiums is between 50-75 percent. They should be watered and left to dry out before watering again.
Vanda orchids are most commonly small plants with large flowers. Many vandas have a powerful fragrance. They come in a wide range of colors from blue, yellow, orange, fushia, and purple and have exotic markings.
Care: Vandas need to be watered more often than other orchids as they do not have the water storage capabilities the others have. Vandas also like to be fertilized. They have aerial roots that make displaying in the home a bit of a challenge. Grow baskets are usually used. Humidity needs to be 70-90 percent with 25-30 percent filtered light.
Cattleyas are among the most commonly grown orchids because of their extravagant fragrance. These are the orchids chosen for women's corsages. Like most other orchids, cattleyas are epiphytic, or air plants. They are accustomed to being dry at the root between watering and, therefore, should be potted in a very porous, free-draining medium.
Care: Light is important to growing and blooming cattleyas, and they prefer 50-80 percent humidity. This can be provided at home by filling trays with gravel so that plants stand above the water. Fertilizer must be given on a regular schedule. Occasionally you might use a blossom booster (10-30-20) to encourage sturdy growth and promote healthy blooming. Feed every two weeks when plant is growing, taking care to flush with clear water once a month to prevent fertilizer salt build up.
Paphiopedilum is one of the best orchids for home conditions, requiring only fairly bright light and normal conditions to provide some of the orchid kingdom's longest-lasting and most exotic blooms. Ladyslipper orchids can last eight to 10 weeks or more when in bloom.
Care: Paphiopedilums prefer night temperatures from 55-60 degrees and daytime temperature of 70 to 85 degrees with humidity of 60-70 percent. Place a tray of moistened pebbles to help provide humidity. Mature plants should never dry out between waterings. Fertilize regularly, although paphiopediums will grow and flower with less.
Although cymbidium is one of the largest orchid varieties and its foliage can reach over 2 feet long, it can be very rewarding to grow. The blooms are held on racks made up of about nine or so blooms per stalk and come in a variety of colors: white, yellow, pink, red, and green. Like a few other orchids, the cymbidium plant can stay in bloom up to eight weeks.
Care: In order to produce bloom, cymbidium orchids prefer cool night temperatures. When you bring a cymbidium in from spending the summer in a part sun/part shade location outdoors, place it in a unheated room of the house if possible. Provide plenty of water even during the winter since this orchid likes to be submerged in water weekly when growing.