by Tracey Pestian, Morning Sun Manager
Since I have been employed here at Morning Sun, I have fallen head-over-heels in love with orchids. We normally carry several beautiful varieties here at the shop, and before I worked here I would dream of them being in my own home. I used to let them intimidate me into not buying them (for fear that I would most likely slowly kill them). I now have seven of them in my home office. And they are all doing very well! For those of you who also feel intimidated by orchids, I am here to let you know that if I can keep these beauties alive, so can you.
This particular variety of orchid is called “Dancing Ladies” and it is of the oncidium species. Most oncidiums produce dozens of small flowers at the same time, giving you a spectacular show that lasts for several weeks. You can see by the shape of the bloom that it really does look like a beautiful lady in a pretty yellow gown happily dancing her little heart out.
Orchids need plenty of light, but never place them in direct sun. If you do not have a proper spot in a window of your home, then artificial lighting works well. Even fluorescent bulbs are efficient (use one warm white tube and one cool white tube under a reflector and place the orchid about six inches beneath the light for 14-16 hours per day). They do require darkness at night.
Repotting your orchids will be necessary every couple of years. The best time to repot is when you see that new growth begins, shortly after blooming. Fir bark medium is used and you may purchase this at any local garden center.
Orchids need slightly cooler nighttime temperatures for them to bloom. Oncidiums tolerate temperatures from 55 degrees at night and up to 75 degrees during the day. Some orchids will even bloom more than once per year. Keep the bark medium lightly moist during the growing season and be careful not to overwater (yellowing leaves is a good sign that you are overwatering). You may feed your orchid during the active growth period every three weeks with an organic orchid fertilizer that can also be purchased at any local garden center.
With good care, you may expect your orchids to bloom for you year after year. I am very much enjoying my new-found beauties and hope that you will too!