In the wild, most of the commonly cultivated orchids grow
in the upper branches of trees. Imagine
these conditions when selecting a location for your orchid.
They need light, but not too much direct light. In their natural
condition bright tropical sunlight is filtered through leaves.
They need good air circulation.
Depending on the variety, minimum nighttime
temperatures should be fifty to sixty-five degrees, with daytime highs
about fifteen degrees higher.
Go to an expert like Don and he will help you select
the variety that will thrive for you.
One of his favorites is the Cattleya.
It is also called the houseplant orchid, for obvious reasons.
In the wild, There are over forty species of Cattleyas which are
well suited to growing indoors, and are recommended for novices. A couple of other types often suggested for beginners are
Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, and Paphiopedilum.
Don learned about orchids at an early age.
While other kids were going to ballgames with their dads, Don's
father took him to the Botanical Gardens.
He learned to respect and admire all kinds of plants, but
If you have walked through our local forest preserves or
woodland parks, you might have come across examples of the Lady
Slipper, an orchid that grows wild in our region
Orchids are amazingly adaptable to many different growing
environments, and it is not hard to understand why it is entirely
possible to find one that will be happy in your kitchen.
Even an expert like Don doesn't try to grow orchids
from seed. “You need
a laboratory to grow from seed”, he says.
“It's better to purchase small plants from a reputable
wholesaler.” He then nurtures and raises the small plants to where they
are mature enough to survive in the average home.
Don cautions that wild orchids are just that –
wild. If you come
across one in the forest, don't try to move it into your kitchen.
It will not survive. Cultivated
varieties are all hybrids, crosses between different strains that
take some characteristics from each of the parent strains. Plant scientists have been working for decades to develop
varieties that will thrive in the indoor environment, so never
imagine that you can just move a wild species indoors.
So you want to start growing orchids.
How do you go about it?
First go to somebody who knows what he is doing, and has the
knowledge to recommend the correct plant for you.
It may be cheaper to buy something from the local grocery
store, but a grower like Don help you get started with the correct
plant and he will be there when you need help or advice down the
road. This is
especially valuable for the beginner.
Always buy the largest, most mature plant you can afford.
This will give you the best chance of success.
Although most of the orchids we are used to seeing as
house plants are native to the tropics, members of the orchid family
grow in almost any climate, from the tropical to the arctic and and
anyplace in between.
Even a casual visitor to the booth can find
himself involved in a passionate discussion of orchids.
Don White and his part time helper Tammy Henley.
photos by Regina Nuttall
Taking care of orchids is a little different than taking
care of many houseplants because they do not grow is soil.
They are usually potted in a potting mix made of shredded bark.
Do not over water. Orchids
don't like wet feet. Remember
their natural habitat is in the treetops.
Be sure you are watering correctly for the species of plant you
have. For varieties like
Paphiopedilum, Miltonia, Cymbidium, or Odontoglossum, keep them evenly
moist, but never soggy, at all times.
For Cattleleya, Oncidium, Brassia, or Dendrobium, keep them moist
during their active growing season, and let the dry out between waterings
during the rest of the year. For Phalaenopsis, Vanda or Ascocenda, always let them get
nearly dry between waterings.
Fertilize every time you water. Most plants get nutrients from the soil they are growing in,
but since your orchid will not be rooted
in soil, you need to feed it
It is also important to repot an orchid once a year.
If you do it yourself, be sure to use a good orchid potting mix.
If you are not sure how to do it, Don will handle it for a very
Orchids are fascinating plants. If you have ever even thought of raising them, you could
spend a very interesting afternoon visiting Don and his orchids.
He is located south of Frankfort, on Center Road.
For more information on Anything Orchids go to
23027 Center Road, Frankfort, IL 60423 or call
815-469-3774. Email email@example.com
and see their website at www.anythingorchids.com
Oncidium Sharry baby
Photo by Regina Nuttal
photo by Regina Nuttall
photo by Regina Nuttall
photo by Regina Nuttall