So you’ve had good luck with Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis), and you’ve added color to your collection with a few showy Cattleyas. Now you may be looking to expand your collection but are worried that other varieties may be too difficult to grow. After all, most stores primarily sell Dendrobiums, Phalaenopsis and Cattleyas, so they must be the only easy orchids to grow, right? Wrong.
The orchid family includes nearly 900 genera, and among those hundreds, there are lots of plants that are quite simple to grow under the same conditions as the most commonly available orchids. Let’s take a look at some additional varieties to add to your collection.
Commonly Known as "Lady of the Night"
Not only is the white flower on this orchid quite unique, this hardy plant features a distinctive gardenia-like fragrance that peaks at night fall. Another reason we like this orchid is that when grown under the right conditions, Brassavola nodosa will bloom multiple times throughout the year.
Temperature: Grows best in warmer temperatures ranging from 70º to 85º F and likes a slight drop in evening temps.
Light: Prefers medium to high filtered light, similar to a Cattleya.
Watering: Likes a well-drained potting media, such as Better-Gro ® Special Orchid Mix, or even a cork/driftwood mount so that the roots can air out between waterings. The Brassavola prefers a humid environment, so if you happen to live in a temperate zone, this plant will thrive outdoors.
Feeding: Because this orchid will bloom throughout the year, it is recommended that you feed by alternating between our Better-Gro ® Orchid Plus ® and Better-Gro ® Better-Bloom ® plant foods using the recommendations on the label.
Oncidium 'Sweet Sugar'
This orchid has been nicknamed the "Dancing Lady" due to its striking resemblance to a full-skirted silhouette that closely mimics a dancing lady when the flowers flutter in a gentle breeze. Some even say the flowers look like angels.
Although the blossoms are typically just 1" or less in size, don’t be fooled by the tiny size of this plant’s flora. The sprays on this plant easily rival other larger-sized orchid blooms.
Temperature: Thrives in day time temperatures ranging from 70º to 85º F.
Light: Grows best with bright filtered light.
Watering: Oncidiums are equipped to store water in their pseudobulbs which makes them more draught tolerant. Be sure to use a well-drained potting media, such as Better-Gro ® Special Orchid Mix, to allow the plant to dry between waterings and watch for the tell-tale sign that your orchid needs water when you see the pseudobulb start to shrivel.
Feeding: We recommend the same plant food routine as listed above for both Oncidiums and Brassavola. Alternate between our Better-Gro ® Orchid Plus ®and Better-Gro ® Better-Bloom ® plant foods using the amounts shown on the label.
In addition to this bright yellow color, Oncidiums are available in a variety of colors including red, pink, green, white and brown. Some varieties even have a scent including the 'Sharry Baby' variety that smells like chocolate.
Makuli-Curtisii-Maudiae x Paph. Maudiae 'Napa Valley' HCC/AOS x Sib
Don’t be fooled by this exotic looking orchid. Paphiopedilum maudiaes are one of the easiest orchid varieties to grow. Commonly referred to as the "Lady Slipper Orchid" because of the pouch-like lip that resembles the toe of a slipper, flowers on this plant will last up to two months and often bloom one to two times a year. The mottled foliage of the Paphiopedilum maudiae is prettier than most orchid varieties and rivals many indoor houseplants.
Temperature: This orchid prefers cooler temperatures than the orchids listed above. The Paphiopedilum maudiae grows best between 65º to 85º F and needs cooler night temperatures to form buds.
Light: In a natural setting, this orchid grows on the forest floor. In a greenhouse or outdoor environment, provide filtered light and avoid direct sunlight.
Watering: Although the lip of this orchid looks like the ideal vessel to hold water, you should avoid getting water in the pouch as this will cause the flower to rot. Paphiopedilums don't have pseudobulbs like other orchid varieties, so it is important to water regularly. Potting media should remain cool to the touch, but water should flow completely through the pot to avoid root rot.
Feeding: Paphiopedilums do not need as much plant food as other orchid varieties. We recommend cutting the strength of your plant food to a quarter or half strength of what is shown on the label.
In addition to the white and light green flower shown above, the Paphiopedilum maudiae is also available in a deep eggplant purple.
We hope you enjoy experimenting with these additional orchid varieties. They are sure to bring fresh blooms, interesting foliage and diversity to your collection.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
Improper Light Levels
The right amount of light is essential for maintaining plant growth and encouraging re-flowering of your orchid.
High light levels lead to leaves that are yellowish in color and in some cases can cause scorching of the leaves. This scorching first appears as white patches on uppermost leaves, which eventually turn brown. Extreme cases of scorching can kill the plant! Yellowish leaves caused by high light levels are easily remedied by moving the plant to a slightly shadier spot.
Low light levels typically won’t kill your plant, but it is the most common reason people fail to re-bloom their orchids. In this scenario, plant leaves are typically dark green and the plant fails to re-flower during its normal blooming season. The ideal leaf color should be an even, medium-green. Slowly increase the light level over a couple months by introducing the plant to slightly brighter conditions, until the desired leaf color is recognized. In Phalaenopsis, low light levels can also lead to soft, floppy elongated leaves.
Most orchid problems are preventable.
There really is no magic to growing orchids successfully; just some preparation and care is all you need.
For more information about proper air movement and light levels, watch our video below.
There are several factors that lead to poor orchid growth. Correctly identifying the source of the problem is key to understanding how to treat it and avoid it in the future. In this post, we’ll discuss the most common issues that arise from improper watering and feeding levels.
Overwatering and Underwatering
Not too much and not too little - but just the right amount of water will make your orchids very happy. But how do you know how much is just right?
Over-watering is the most common problem associated with poorly performing orchids. Symptoms can look very similar to those of under-watered plants because it often rots the roots and therefore prevents them from taking up adequate amounts of water.
The first thing to do is to examine the roots of the plant. If the roots are rotted (soft, black and soggy) then chances are the plant is being over-watered. If the potting media is fresh and the pot size is not too large, then you will need to cut back on the frequency of your watering. Also, because the rot is often associated with a bacteria or fungus, you may need to drench the plant or pot with a good fungicide or bactericide.
Under-watered plants often exhibit limp or withered leaves and withered stems or bulbs. This happens because the plant is not getting enough water to keep the leaves, bulbs, or stems turgid.
If the pot is not too small for the plant and the roots are in good health (white and firm), then this is easily remedied by watering the plant more frequently. Remember that Cattleyas and Dendrobiums like to dry between waterings. Once the potting media dries out, you should water the orchid promptly. Do not let the orchid stay dry for a prolonged period.
Also, realize that larger pots tend to stay wet longer than smaller pots. One trick to learn is to lift the pot up when it is ready to be watered and note the weight of the pot. Now, water your plant thoroughly and let it drain for 5 minutes, then lift the pot up and again note the weight. The difference in pot weight is noticeable and, over time, this can be a quick and easy way to tell when your plant requires watering.
It’s hard to believe, but orchids can get sunburned just as easily as humans. Many of us take precautions such as sunscreen, hats and special clothing to avoid the sun’s harmful rays, but what can you to do prevent burns to your plants this summer when the sun’s rays are at their strongest? Orchids need sunlight to grow; however, many varieties prefer indirect sunlight. Whether you keep your orchids indoors or outside, you need to take precautions against sunburn.
Sunlight can be amplified by the windows in your home. Some direct sunlight is okay but prolonged exposure can result in sunspots. Try a north or east facing window to avoid the strength of late afternoon exposure. Additionally, be sure that the leaves of your orchid plant are not directly touching your windows.
The pattern of the sun changes throughout the year, so areas that may be shaded in winter may be in full sun during the summer. Sun and shade also change seasonally due to fallen leaves or routine tree and shrub pruning.
Within the Orchidaceae family, there are flowers of all shapes, sizes, colors -- and fragrances. Many orchid species have strong scents, which range from putrid to pleasant. Here’s a look at why orchids have such an array of aromas, along with some species you might want to smell and others that are quite offensive.
Fragrances Help to Attract Pollinators
In the wild, orchids’ scents help the plants attract pollinators. Often an orchid’s scent is tailored for a specific pollinator:
Sweet Smelling Orchids
There are many sweet-smelling orchid species in a number of different genera. The following are just some of the delightfully fragrant orchids grown by Better-Gro:
Foul-Smelling Orchids Smell Like Decaying Matter
Although you’ll rarely hear them discussed and almost never find them in a mainstream nursery, there are a number of offensively smelling orchids. Some of the worst smelling orchids are in the Bulbophyllum genus:
As mentioned, these orchids aren’t trying to deter predators with their scents, although they may send you running away. They’re trying to attract insects that thrive on decaying matter.
Orchids Smell Best in the Morning and Evening
Most fragrant orchids smell strongest in the morning or evening, when the pollinators they’re trying to attract are most active. Many species give off their scents in the morning, but some, like Lady of the Night, try to attract nocturnal moths and other insects by saving their scents for the evening.
Additionally, orchids will often smell stronger on warm, sunny days than cool, cloudy ones. The higher temperatures and sun heat up the plants’ oils, causing them to put off a stronger fragrance.
Orchids are fascinating plants with diverse flowers. To learn more about different kinds of orchids and their blooms, as well as how to care for them, we invite to peruse our website.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
Phalaenopsis orchids are beautiful and prolific. If left alone, each spike produces five to 10 blooms at a time, and each flower can last up to three months. With a little care, however, you can coax even more flowers out of a Phal. Here’s how you can enjoy almost never-ending blooms on a Phalaenopsis.
Check Your Phalaenopsis After Blooming
Before trying to entice a Phalaenopsis spike to produce more blooms, you need to check the plant and the spike’s health. First, only healthy, green spikes should be coaxed into flowering a second time. If there is any yellowing on the spike, it’s drying out and will eventually die. It should be cut back to the base, even if just the tip is yellowing, to let the plant focus on developing its root system and growing leaves. The orchid should flower the following season, within 12 months, and its flowers will likely be larger because the roots and leaves will be more developed.
Second, only spikes that don’t have any more buds on them should be trimmed. Occasionally, a spike will cease growing and flower, only to grow again and produce more buds. If there are more buds on the tip of the spike, leave it alone until they finished flowering.
Cutting Back a Phalaenopsis Spike
As long as a spike is healthy and has no more flowers, you can try to coax more flowers out of it by trimming it back. Instead of cutting it all the way back to the leaves, leave two nodes on the spike. Cut it about ½ inch above the second of the two nodes. (Nodes are the little bumps on the stem.)
Most of the time, if the plant is healthy, and conditions are right, one of the two nodes will produce a side shoot. This side shoot will begin flowering within eight to 12 weeks. Although these flowers may not be quite as large as the initial group of blooms, they will still be beautiful and last for a long time.
In some cases, the node will form a keiki, which is a little plant. Keikis must remain attached to the mother plant for two years, at which point they will begin to develop roots and can be planted on their own. During these two years, however, a keiki will send up spikes of its own, which will produce flowers.
Timing Your Trimmings
As long as a Phalaenopsis is healthy, you should be able to continue cutting its spike back to produce more side shoots and additional flowers. If a Phal has more than one spike, timing your trimmings can produce virtually never-ending blooms, because flowers can last for up to three months, and side shoots will produce blooms within two to three months.
Keep in mind that when you keep flowering on the same spike, it will slow down the plant’s growth. It takes a lot of energy and nutrients for an orchid to grow a spike and flower. Just like people need a nap after exerting a lot of energy, your orchid will need a rest period after flowering to stay healthy. So, be sure to strike a balance between continual growth and rest periods.
Watering and Feeding Your Phalaenopsis
Between blooms, you should continue to water and feed your Phalaenopsis as normal. Its soil should be kept moist, although not soggy, and it should be fed twice a month with an orchid-specific fertilizer. If you’re trying to coax more blooms out of your Phal, alternating feedings between Orchid Plus® Plant Food and Orchid Better Bloom Plant Food will help maintain a healthy plant and produce beautiful blooms.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
Delicious Scent & Taste: The Vanilla Orchid
Widely used in sweets, perfumes, candles and more, did you know the vanilla bean originates from an orchid plant called the Vanilla planifolia? The Totonaco people of Mexico were the first known people to cultivate vanilla orchids to produce the sweet aromatic spice that is so commonly used today.
If you are looking to add this exotic orchid to your collection, know that it does take special care. In its natural habitat, Vanilla planifolia can grow over 100 feet long zig-zagging up tree trunks in a vine-like fashion with dark green alternating 3.5” sheath-shaped leaves. Clusters of aromatic cream-colored flowers will eventually form fleshy pods that can grow up to 10" in length.
The vanilla orchid can be grown in a greenhouse under conditions similar to most other orchid varieties - tropical rain forest type conditions with filtered light, high humidity, and 60-70 degree temps at night and 80-95 degrees during the day.
The vanilla flower blooms just one day, opening in the morning and closing late in the afternoon. Pollination through natural means is very difficult unless you live in Mexico where Melipona Bees are found. Otherwise, you will need to hand-pollinate your vanilla orchid to bear fruit. Flowers that go unpollinated simply shrivel and die.
Worth the Wait
A vanilla pod can take up to nine months to mature for harvesting. Wait until the bean has turned dark brown or black and is showing signs of splitting before you remove the pod from the plant. Removing the pod too early can result in a less flavorful bean. After the bean has been harvested, you will need to either sun dry the bean or place it in hot water for several minutes. In either case, the bean will need to dry in a ventilated location for 2-4 weeks after the sun drying or hot bath to produce similar results to commercially grown beans.
Easy to Make Vanilla Extract
If you are lucky enough to harvest your own beans, you can make your own vanilla extract. Simply split the cured bean down the middle and place the entire bean into your favorite flavorless rum or vodka. Shake every few days. In approximately eight weeks, you will have your own vanilla extract. Wait even longer to allow the flavor to intensify. If you don’t have the patience to grow your own vanilla, try this trick with store-bought beans for a cost effective vanilla extract.
Buying the Vanilla Orchid
Most nurseries and garden stores do not sell vanilla orchids, however, there are growers online that offer these plants. Just be sure to purchase the flat leafed vanilla orchid as there are other orchids in the same family that do not produce the commonly desired vanilla bean.
The Totonaco people discovered this delicacy deep in the tropical jungles. Myth has it that the blood of two lovers had fallen onto the floor of the forest and from that blood sprouted a vine with beautiful cream-colored flowers. The flowers gave way to this gift from the gods that filled the air with the scent of love and beauty.
Some cultures believed the vanilla bean to have medicinal properties sure to treat headaches, indigestion and animal bites, while the Aztecs and Europeans believed the delicate spice to be an aphrodisiac.
In modern times, Vanilla planifolia is not only a pretty orchid to enjoy but also a favorite flavor for many.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
It's likely that you have stopped to admire a Vanda at your local garden center or even seen them growing in a greenhouse or your neighborhood. These eye-catching orchids certainly attract attention. Less common than Phalaenopsis and Cattleya orchids, Vandas require slightly different care than other orchid varieties, but they are well worth the effort!
Vandas are showy, long-lasting, frequent bloomers. They are very rewarding to grow and often times fragrant. Prized for their intense colors, they are commonly available in hot pink, orange, red and purple. The Vanda genus also includes a species with vibrant blue flowers called Vanda coerulea or the Blue Orchid (shown right). Unlike many other orchids that bloom just once a year, healthy Vandas can bloom throughout the year.
Leaves and Types
Vandas are different from Cattleyas and Oncidiums in that they don’t have pseudobulbs. Water is retained in the plants' leaves which is why they need to be watered more frequently.
Vandas come in three types and are easily distinguishable by looking at the plant's leaves.
Their natural habitat ranges from India and the Himalayas to China, the Philippines and New Guinea. A few species are found in the Western Pacific Islands and Queensland, Australia.
Most species in the Vanda genus are epiphytes, meaning they grow on other plants without harming the host plant. By clinging to trees, Vandas have access to more sunlight versus growing on the forest floor, while still being shielded from direct sunlight by the tree canopy. In addition to growing in trees, some Vandas are lithophytic which means the grow on rocks, and some are terrestrial (grow on the ground).
Vandas come in many sizes. Some are tiny and can fit in the palm of your hand whereas others can grow up to 6 feet tall.
Individual flowers range in size from less than an inch to four inches. They grow in clusters with up to 15 flowers per stem. Vandas are easily recognizable from other orchids due to their long, rambling roots that enable the plant to cling to trees. Often times, you will find Vanda roots growing two to four feet below the plant. Vandas are unique in that they do not grow in traditional orchid plant media like fir bark and charcoal.
Caring for Vandas
If you are interested in learning more about the ideal conditions for growing Vandas, please visit our Vanda Care Instructions on the Better-Gro website. There you will find recommendations for temperature, light, watering, feeding and humidity.
We hope you will consider bringing home your own Vanda in the future. Please send us your photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #BetterGroBlooms.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
You’ve heard of the winter blues but what is making your orchids turn purple? “The purple coloration you see on the underside and sometimes topside of orchid leaves is a winter phenomenon,” says Robert Palmer, head grower at Better-Gro. “But don’t worry, this is completely natural. Many orchids that are grown outdoors either in pots or on trees go through this annual cycle.”
Just as autumn leaves turn red, orange and purple in the fall, some orchids go through a similar change although they don’t shed their leaves. Purple leaves occur for several reasons.
As you may remember from school, chlorophyll is what allows a plant to absorb light and produce energy. Purple leaves are a natural sign that your orchids have cut back on producing chlorophyll during a time of winter dormancy. Essentially, the orchid is saving energy for the spring time. In contrast, orchids that are dark green in winter are likely continuing to expend energy producing excess chlorophyll. What’s wrong with healthy dark green leaves? Nothing, however, it’s likely that your plant is focusing on its leaves rather than reserving energy to produce spring blossoms.
Purple leaves can be an indication that your plant is receiving too much light. This light exposure is common with orchids grown outdoors due to reduced winter tree canopies. As long as your orchid is not getting burned, the excess light and purple leaves are not harmful.
Orchids that were exposed to winter cold spells will exhibit purple leaves if they are magnesium deficient.
How Can You Reduce the Purple Coloration?
Although purple leaves are not harmful, you can give your orchids a leg up on spring and boost the flower-initiation process with Epsom salts. Simply mix 1 gallon of water with ½ to 1 Tablespoon of Epsom salts. Generously spray your plants once a month. This inexpensive treatment can be applied year-round and will help reduce purple leaves.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
When you think of orchids, you typically think of tropical rain forests rather than the fields and mountains of Ireland. But , did you know Ireland is home to approximately 30 native species of orchids? In comparison to many epiphytic orchids that grow in the treetops, all of Ireland’s native orchids are terrestrial, growing in fields, bogs and limestone crevices.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we thought you might enjoy learning about some lesser-known orchids from the green island.
Western Marsh Orchid
The Western Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza occidentalis), commonly found in the Burren region of Ireland, also grows in other European countries such as Switzerland and Germany. This gorgeous orchid boasts dark spotted leaves with dense flower spikes ranging in length from 1.5” to 6”. Seven to 40 red-purple and pinkish-purple blossoms cover each spike. The Western Marsh Orchid makes for quite the site along roadsides, grasslands and marshes.
May the luck of the Irish be with you and your orchids.
Happy Blooming with Better-Gro.
These plants have the same needs as their larger counterparts: humidity, light, and warm temperatures.
Water: Because of the smaller pot size, often times they will require less water than a traditional phal. We suggest that you water once weekly, making sure the pot drains entirely through the drainage holes. If you keep the plant indoors, you may need to lightly mist your mini to add humidity. Or, you can place the orchid pot in a container of water and pebbles making sure the pot is sitting on top of the rocks and not directly in the water.
Temperature: Your orchid will enjoy the same temperatures that you do in your home. Keep your plant in a location that ranges between 65 and 80° F.
Light: Place your mini in a bright location but avoid direct sunlight which may burn the leaves. Typically, southern or eastern facing windows are best.
Plant Food: Use a water soluble, balanced plant food designed for orchids. Follow the care instructions on the label.
Like their larger-sized cousins, mini phals will often bloom two to three times a year. We hope you enjoyed this mini tutorial. 😍
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro
As you begin or continue your journey to learn more about orchids, we've pulled together a listing of basic terminology that you may encounter while researching these beautiful plants. We hope you find this list to be useful.
Roots that are above the soil’s surface – usually grown for plant support.
The pollen producing part of a flower.
Found at the tip of the shoot and the root of the orchid. By continually dividing its cells, it causes the plant to grow longer.
A pseudobulb of an orchid that remains on the plant after the terminal growth has been removed as a division.
Also known as “blooming-sized orchid” or “packaged orchids” a Baggy Baby, grown and sold by Better-Gro, delivers the thrill of watching an exotic plant through all stages of its development.
A plant having two leaves on a pseudobulb.
The reproductive area of the orchid flower.
Any deviation from the normal growth structure or quality of a plant that is a continuous condition producing visible symptoms, thus affecting the quality or value of the plant.
A form of plant propagation in which new plants are separated from the parent plant.
The surroundings or conditions in which a plant lives or operates.
A plant that grows harmoniously upon another plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and debris accumulating around it.
Also known as plant food. A natural or synthetic material which includes nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium compounds that, when given to a plant, increases its capacity to support growth.
A group of related plants consisting of two or more species possessing certain common characteristics distinct from any other group.
A plant that provides some or all the nutrients for a particular pest or fungus.
A plant that falls in the middle on a growing range – meaning it is not a cool grower (grows in colder environments) or a warm grower (grows in warmer environments), but rather it can be grown in most growing environments.
Baby orchids that sprout from an orchid’s flower stems. Literally translated, “keiki” is Hawaiian for “the little one” -- and that’s just what keikis are. They’re little orchid plants.
The part of an orchid where its primary function is photosynthesis.
One of the key factors for growing a healthy plant. Plants use energy from light to convert carbon dioxide into food.
The lower petal of an orchid used by flowers to provide a landing platform for its pollinators.
An identical plant which was produced from tissue culture of the apical meristem.
Having an obsession with orchids – inspiring scientists, collectors, and hobbyists alike.
A measure of the acidity in water. A measure of 6.5 pH is perfect for orchids.
The storage organ found on sympodial orchids.
Having one main stem which grows straight up.
Any organism that can cause disease or injury to a plant.
An underground stem that connects two pseudobulbs.
Having lateral continued growth (more than one stem) coming from a pseudobulb.
A plant that has roots that grow and receive nutrients from the soil.
Microscopic pathogen which can be spread by insects or unsanitized equipment.
For more information on orchid care, EasyOrchidGrowing.com Happy Blooming!
It is such a joy to bring home a new orchid. They brighten up your home and garden, and some varieties stay in bloom for up to three months. Whether you have just a few plants or an extensive collection, here are several steps you should take when bringing home a new orchid from the garden center, grocery store or local orchid show.
Check the Moisture Level of the Potting Media
Stores do their best to properly care for plants, but under or over watering does occur. If the plant feels heavy from water and the potting media is cool to the touch, wait a few days before watering to allow the excess moisture to be absorbed. If the potting media is dry and/or the leaves look limp, give the plant a good watering, but make sure the water flows through and exits the pot.
Look for Bugs
Your new orchid may have left the greenhouse free from bugs, but once exposed to other plants in the store, some critters may decide to move to a new host plant. In addition to inspecting the plant in the store, it is a good idea to do an additional check at home. Some bugs are almost impossible to see with the naked eye, so a simple light rinse of the leaves with water will likely wash away the bugs. If you do happen to notice a small spot of scale or mealy bugs, you can eliminate these pests by wiping the leaves with a cotton ball soaked in 70% isopropyl alcohol.
If you have a collection of orchids, it’s best to keep your new orchid in a different location for at least a week. This separation will allow you to look for bugs, fungus or bacteria on the new plant before exposing your existing healthy plants to potential issues.
Remove Netting and Plastic Wraps
Growers will often use netting to prevent the potting media from spilling out. Be sure to remove the net or tape once you have brought your plant home to avoid new growth from getting trapped and damaged.
Additionally, if your plant has a thin colorful plastic or foil wrap surrounding the pot, it is best to remove these wraps. Orchids are epiphytic and their roots need air flow. These wraps limit that flow and trap water which could cause the plant to rot. If you want to use a decorative pot while your plant is in bloom, simply place the orchid's plastic or terracotta pot inside your preferred pot, making sure the water can drain.
Repot After the Blooms Have Dropped
Sphagnum moss is used by many growers to keep plants from drying out during shipping and while in the store. After your orchid has finished blooming, we recommend repotting your orchid in fresh potting mix. If you repot while your orchid is in bloom, the blossoms may prematurely drop.
We hope these simple suggestions will help you the next time you bring home your next orchid.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
You’ve waited months and carefully nurtured your orchid. You protected your plant from the cold winter months and fertilized it with care. Like a proud parent, your excitement builds as the first spike begins to shoot out from the base of the plant. You pat yourself on the back when not just one bud forms, but multiple buds form along the spike. The anticipation builds only to end in disappointment as your tender buds shrivel before they reach maturity.
Thrips: Tiny Pests
Sadly, this misfortune can occur with first time orchid owners as well as experienced collectors. One likely culprit is a small insect called Thrips. Thrips commonly attack buds and new growth on many types of orchids including Vandas, Dendrobiums, Cattleyas, Phalaenopsis and Epidendrums.
Almost impossible to see with the naked eye, these tiny hemi-metabolic insects range in size from 1/16 to 3/8 inch and are characteristically cigar-shaped.
They also attack many other types of plants including edibles such as beans, carrots, squash and other flowering plants like gladioli and roses. Despite their tiny size, thrips can ruin your flowering season.
Pest problems do occasionally occur with orchids. Correctly identifying the source of the problem is key to understanding how to treat your orchids and eliminate the pest. In this video, we’ll show you examples of insect problems with orchids and discuss how to remedy the most common problems.
Thrips commonly feed in large groups. Most often, they attack buds and new growth, sucking the moisture out of these fragile parts. Blooms may shrivel and drop before opening.
Flowers that make it to maturity may be spotted, streaked, shriveled or discolored. If you suspect you have thrips, try gently blowing into an open flower and look for tiny green or white insects.
It is important to address thrips quickly. Besides damaging your buds and new growth, they may also help spread viruses throughout your collection due to their ability to quickly travel between plants.
Hopefully these tips will keep thrips from ruining your current and future buds and flowers.
An orchid’s blooming cycle can vary widely based on light, temperature, feeding and time of year. Although most orchids bloom just once a year, there are plenty of orchid varieties that can bloom twice a year and sometimes year-round. If you are an impatient gardener seeking prolific bloomers, here are a few varieties that you may want to try.
Guaritonia 'Why Not'
This orchid boasts dark red blossoms with a bright yellow center. Flowers are approximately 1.5” across and bloom in clusters with anywhere between three to 12 flowers per cluster. A mature plant will bloom several times a year with it’s primary blooming cycle in the spring. They prefer warm temperatures, high moisture, well-drained potting media, bright light (but not direct light) and regular feeding. They do well in pots, baskets or attached to wood.
Cattlianthe 'Busy Bev'
This regal looking hybrid boasts large flowers that are four to five inches in size. The blooms feature an intense purple lip and the outer petals are lavender to even a light bluish hue. This plant provides an extra bonus with a sweet fragrance that can attract butterflies. We recommend growing this plant like a typical Cattleya with high humidity, a well drained potting media and bright indirect light. The Blue Jewel typically blooms in the spring time, but with the right conditions it will bloom again later in the year.
Rhycattleanthe Burana Beauty
The Cattleya hybrid, Burana Beauty, looks like happiness tie-dyed onto a flower. The blooms feature distinctive red stripes on the ruffled center two petals and lip which is contrasted against bright, sunny yellow outer petals. Burana Beauty will put out sprays with four to five blossoms per bunch and will bloom two to three times per year. This orchid grows well indoors with bright light in addition to outdoors in tropical zones. The Burana Beauty prefers a fir bark potting mixture. As if you needed one more reason to add this plant to your collection, the Burana Beauty features a delightful citrus scent.
Brassocattleya Yellow Bird
A hearty plant due to its Brassavola parent cross, this orchid is great for beginners. The long, skinny leaves resemble conifer needles and are a nice balance to the delicate yellow flowers that resemble a star with a big, pouty, freckled lip. Flowers will last a few weeks at a time and open as a light pink and darken to a bright yellow within days. They grow well in baskets, pots and mounted to wood. Under the right conditions, a Yellow Bird can bloom throughout the year, and it emits a sweet scent. Special thanks to L. Krutz for sharing this photo of her Yellow Bird.
Keep an eye out for these beauties at your local garden center.
Happy (Year-Round) Blooming from Better-Gro!
If our title makes you cringe, you’re not alone! Roaches rank up there as one of the most disgusting things you can find in your home. But did you know they will feed not only on the food in your pantry but munch on your orchids as well?
Cockroaches have been around for over 300 million years. Some species pre-date the dinosaurs. So, it’s no surprise that these resilient insects will do anything to survive.
Most areas of the U.S. are well into the frigid winter season. It’s dry and cold outside which is exactly why roaches head inside this time of year to seek food and water. Their preferred meal is any type of carbohydrate including green leaves and blossoms. In particular, they find new growth such as root tips and buds extra enticing.
If buying plant food has you saying IDK (short for I Don’t Know) about NPK, don’t worry! You don’t need to be a chemist, biologist or professional grower. We’ve got the answers to help you select the right plant food.
So, What is NPK?
NPK is an abbreviation for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Remember the abbreviations on the Periodic Table from high school chemistry class? These nutrients when applied at the right time in the correct amount can help you grow healthier, happier plants.
Behind the Numbers
Not all fertilizers say “NPK” on the packaging, but you will consistently find three numbers that correspond to the percentage of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium content in the fertilizer. For example, you may see 10-10-10 on the packaging label which indicates the plant food contains 10% of each of these primary nutrients.
Many of you are familiar with the Better-Gro brand, but you may not know the family or the story behind it. This holiday season, as you prepare to celebrate with friends and family, we wanted to share our family story, and how we have blossomed over the past three generations into a nationally-known wholesale grower and supplier of plant products.
Who doesn’t love a free gift with purchase? Well, if you can believe it, when our company was first started an orchid was the free gift and barbeque sauce was the purchase! A.P. Hollingsworth, founder of Sun Bulb Co. (the parent company for Better-Gro), and his wife Mildred were originally in the BBQ sauce business while bulbs and plants were just a hobby.
A marketer ahead of his time, A.P. would give away a free orchid to every consumer who returned a label from his tasty sauce. For an additional 25 cents, they would get a second orchid.
Call it fate, fortune or serendipity, but the kitchen where the sauce was made caught fire and destroyed most of the family’s inventory. A.P took it as a sign, sold his patent for the BBQ sauce recipes and jumped full time into the business of growing and selling orchids and bulbs.
The Next Generation
In 1974, A.P. and Mildred’s eldest son, Rodney Hollingsworth joined the family business followed by their youngest son, Tom just three short years later. Under the brothers’ leadership, Sun Bulb grew exponentially over the next three decades to become a well-known, regional wholesale supplier of tropical plants and gardening supplies.
As other growers joined the flourishing orchid market, Sun Bulb differentiated itself from the competition by growing a diverse variety of plants for both first-time orchid owners as well as experienced growers. A business model that continues today.
All in the Family
A.P. and Mildred’s family legacy now extends three generations. Rodney’s son, Rod Hollingsworth joined Sun Bulb in 2006. Under Rod’s leadership, the company has diversified beyond plants into additional gardening goods including the purchase of Dynamite Plant Food and most recently an exclusive arrangement with plant pot manufacturer's The Kokodama Collection from Holland and Soendgen Keramik (SK) of Germany.
We hope the sharing of our family story has helped put a face behind the Better-Gro label. Our plants are grown with care, and we look forward to continuing to share A.P.’s love of orchids with you.
This holiday season, remember to set aside some quality time to grow with your family. Happy Holidays from the Hollingsworth Family and Better-Gro Team. Happy Blooming.
One of the most common questions we receive is, “What do I do with my Phalaenopsis once it has stopped blooming?” And our answer is… well, it depends.
Age Before Beauty
If your Phalaenopsis is a younger plant, meaning its leaves and root mass are relatively smaller than a mature plant, we recommend cutting the spike once the blooms have dropped. Use sterile clippers and cut the flower stalk near the base of the plant as shown in the photo. Doing so will allow the plant to focus on developing into a larger, healthier plant so that you can enjoy more blooms the following year.
Brown or Green?
Sometimes, your orchid will make the cutting decision for you. If your Phalaenopsis spike turns from a dark, healthy green to brown and perhaps even hollow, it’s time to cut. Once a spike has browned, it will never produce more flowers from the same stalk.
Follow Your Nodes
A mature Phalaenopsis can rebloom from the same spike. Assuming your spike is green and healthy, find the node below the lowest initial blossom. (Nodes are the small, brown or green, ring-like markings on the Phalaenopsis flower stalk.) Use a sterile blade or shears to cut half-way between that node and the one below it. To prevent potential infection, you may want to dust the cut with ground cinnamon which acts at a natural anti-fungal treatment.
This cutting method is effective about 50% of the time. Some plants are genetically pre-dispositioned for this approach not to work, in particular, Phalaenopsis plants with “sprays” of flowers.
Lastly, you can always guarantee a fresh start for next year by cutting your green Phalaenopsis stems at the base of the plant. Like with younger plants mentioned above, this cutting method will allow your Phalaenopsis to focus it's energy on growing healthier roots and leaves to prepare for the next flowering season.
We hope these suggestions answer your question of “To Cut or Not to Cut.”
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
Q: How many orchids were used in this year's show?
A: Between our Selby Gardens' expansive orchid collection and the plants we received from Better-Gro and other sources, I estimate that we showcased over 40 different genera and more than 800 orchids.
This 90-second video provides a glimpse into the shear variety of orchids and plants on display.
Q: With all those plants, how many people and how many hours did it take to assemble the exhibit?
A: We had a great team working on the show. There were about 12 staff members and volunteers who worked tirelessly on the setup. It took us six days to build and install the hardscapes and arrange the plants throughout our greenhouse.
Q: What was the inspiration for this year's show?
A: The Orchid Show: Endless Forms emphasizes the remarkable range of shapes and sizes of different orchid species. The inspiration was drawn from the famous line of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, in which he stated "from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
Q: What is unique about the Endless Forms exhibit?
A: Well, call me crazy, but we created a 180 foot "endless ribbon" of plants that hung from the ceiling from one end of the greenhouse to the other. We wanted people to look up just as much as they looked down. The ribbon was quite labor intensive with one Phalaenopsis plant approximately every 12 inches which was surrounded by groupings of Guzmanias. The ribbon display required waterings at least twice a day and included over 180 orchids and 430 Guzmanias.
In addition, we created what our team affectionately called "Vanda-liers" and "Vanda-shrooms". The Vanda-liers hung like chandeliers at the entry to the gardens as well from the greenhouse ceiling, and the Vanda-shrooms were massive groupings of Vandas displayed at varying heights that gave the appearance of cartoon-like mushrooms. Our team swapped out these massive displays approximately every three weeks.
Q: What was unique about the 2018 Orchid Show?
A: Well, of course the orchids! But this year's show presented some challenges simply because of the heat. It was one of the hottest years that I can recall. Because our Orchid Show is six weeks long, we always anticipate the need to swap out orchids every few weeks simply because of the blooming cycle. However, this year, we went through even more plants because the flowers wilted much faster than usual due to the heat.
Q: When does the Orchid Show end?
A: If you haven't made it out to the show yet, it isn't too late! The Orchid Show runs through November 25. Ticket information, directions and hours are available on the Selby Gardens' website.
Q: What type of planning goes into the annual Orchid Show?
A: The short answer is LOTS. We started working on this show about eight months ago. We'll probably start working on next year's show in January.
We want to thank Angel Lara and the staff at Selby Gardens for their incredible work on this year's show. Better-Gro was proud to be the presenting sponsor for the event, and we hope you enjoyed our contest and seeing the beautiful photos and videos from the show.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
We recently polled our Facebook fans and asked the question, “What's easier to grow - a Phalaenopsis or a Cattleya?” To our surprise, the results were almost a tie. 46% of our fans voted for the long-lasting moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) while 54% voted for the showy Cattleya.
As with any plant, growing success depends on just the right amount of water, adequate lighting, the correct potting mix and access to nutrients. So, we thought we’d explore what it takes to grow both plants. Our beginners can give both plants a try, and our experienced orchid collectors may make a few changes to their collection.
Caring for a Phalaenopsis
Light: Phalaenopsis plants prefer indirect sunlight and will also respond well to fluorescent grow lights. An Eastern-facing window is ideal or if you plan to put your orchid outdoors be sure it is filtered light. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves leaving large round unsightly burns.
Water: The Phalaenopsis is not equipped to store water like other orchid varieties which is why it is important to water your plants weekly. Water should run through the pot so that the orchid medium can soak up and retain that moisture. If you are using a plant liner or plant saucer, be sure to drain all the water so that your orchid is not sitting in water which can lead to root rot.
Temperature: During the spring and summer months, Phalaenopsis plants prefer warm temperatures in the 75-85 F degree range. However, if you are keeping your Phalaenopsis plants indoors, they will adapt to cooler temperatures. To bloom each spring, Phalaenopsis plants prefer a drop in temperature to spur flower spikes.
Potting Medium: Phalaenopsis plants can be grown in various types of orchid media. They do well with mixtures of bark, perlite and charcoal. This medium will retain just the right amount of moisture needed.
Light: Just like the Phalaenopsis, the Cattleya can be grown indoors with artificial lighting or with indirect sunlight from an Eastern-facing window or filtered Southern exposure window.
Water: The Cattleya is able to store water in its pseudobulbs therefore it can go for a longer period of time without water by using its natural water storage. However, it is best to water your plant weekly and be sure the water has completely drained from the pot.
Temperatures: Most cattleyas prefer temperatures in the 70-80 F degree range, but in the summer time they can tolerate temperatures into the 90s as long as the plant receives sufficient water and air flow. During the winter, they can handle dips into the 50s.
Potting Medium: Cattleyas will grow will in a variety of different media including tree bark, coconut husks, sphagnum moss and even lava rock. When selecting the medium for your plants consider your local humidity and watering routine.
Whether you are looking to splurge on a big gift or opt for something simple, flowers are likely to be on your list this Mother’s Day, and you are not alone. It is predicted that nearly 70% of Americans will purchase flowers for their moms and grandmothers this May.
But before you head out to pick up an arrangement of cut flowers, consider the benefits of a live orchid. Known for their beauty and longevity, orchid blooms can last for weeks, and plants can live for years. They come in many varieties, sizes and fragrances and can be easily found at your local garden store or home improvement center.
Express Your Feelings in Color
Giving an orchid is the easy part, but picking the right one or just one may prove difficult. To simplify your selection, we've included some tips to help you express your feelings in color.
Pink is traditionally given on Mother’s Day. It signifies thoughtfulness, unconditional love and innocence.
Red expresses deep love, respect and courage.
Yellow flowers represent happiness, joy and friendship.
White signifies innocence, truth, perfection and purity.
Purple represents royalty, grace, elegance and admiration.
Orange blooms signify enthusiasm and excitement.
If you can’t decide what color best represents your mom, give her a rainbow of colors to express your love and gratitude.
From our Better-Gro family to yours, we wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.
If you are looking for an excuse to add another orchid to your collection, here it is. April 16th is observed annually as National Orchid Day. We’re sure you can come up with a variety of ways to celebrate your love of orchids, but here are a few additional ideas:
Dear Friends & Family:
We want to thank all of you for your inquiries and words of encouragement relative to the impact of Hurricane Irma on our facilities in southwest and central Florida. At Sun Bulb Co, we suffered a terrible beating to our facilities during Hurricane Charlie in 2004 and feared the worst once Irma’s path took the storm so close to our facilities last week.
While we have some damage to our greenhouses as a result of Irma, we are blessed to be able to tell you that most of our crop is in great shape and we are well on our way to repairing the damage to the greenhouse structures. Given the severity of the winds / rain with Irma, we truly feel as though we were spared. As of Friday 9/15/17, we have power and phones/internet have been restored thanks to the hard work of our local utility departments.
We anticipate being back to a typical routine within the next week or so and will be back to helping make your home and garden beautiful again.
From all of us at Better-Gro, thanks for all your support!