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Beginner's Culture Guides on:
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Introduction to Orchids
The orchid family, orchidaceae, is the second largest among all flowering plants. The orchid family has about 600-800 genera and 25,000 to 35,000 species and over time new species are being discovered occasionally.

Orchids occur in most parts of the world, growing in a diverse range of habitats and terrains. They grow on trees as epiphytes, on forest floor as terrestrial and sometimes in-between rock crevices as lithophytes.

Orchids we see usually appear in 2 different growth structures, monopodial and sympodial.

Monopodial orchids usually have a main stem with new leaves emerging continuously from the crown and roots from the side for anchorage and to retrieve nutrients and water. They also produce offshoots from the side of the main stem which sometimes people trim off to propagate into a new plant.

Sympodial orchids usually have a succession of pseudobulbs, stem that looks like a bulb, growing in a chain. New shoots and roots will emerge from base and sometimes producing long rhizome which spaces up the pseudobulbs. They can be propagated by cutting the rhizome.

Lighting Intensity & Duration
By providing the correct amount of light and duration may induce flowering and promotes healthier growth, but that requires experience. Orchids are adaptable plants and sometimes they adapt to new environments over time hence it is important to not shift them around too much. Before finding a spot for your orchids, you should understand what they like. Grow your orchids in places that resemble their natural habitats and they should do well.

In general, there are sun-loving orchids which usually grow on branches in the canopy where they receive optimum light and rain. Sun-loving orchid genera include Vanda, Dendrobium and Grammatophyllum which can take about 70% to 90% light from the sun for duration of 8 to 10 hours a day. And there are also shade-loving orchids that grow under trees or on forest floors that receive limited light, such genera include Macodes, Paphiopedilums, Phalaenopsis and Bulbophyllum which prefers 30 to 60% light for about 4 - 6 hours a day. Growers achieve the ideal light intensity by using shade nets, one layer for sun-loving orchids and 2-3 layers for shade loving orchids.

In our modern cities, many live in apartments that only receive half-day sun or even no sun at all. In such cases, it would be advisable for growers to grow shade-loving orchids near windows. If there are no light at all, growers can provide alternate light source by using a florescent light. As for people who have open garden that get exposed to the full sun for the whole day, they would have more freedom to keep both sun-loving and shade-loving orchids.

Watering and Ventilation
Orchids are subjected to sesonal changes which makes watering tricky. Study on your orchid's natural season and control watering according to the seasonal change.

In general, water your orchids when there is no direct sunlight around because the water droplets may act as a magnifying glass that focus the sun's rays and may scotch the leaves. The best time to water is early morning or during the evening when it is windy.

While watering, it is best to water only the roots or onto the potting mix. Unless you have natural or artificial ventilation, try to not let water collect in the crown as it may rot your orchids.

Artificial ventilation is achieved with the help of a modern electric fan or an industrial ventilation machine. These equipments are only useful in a greenhouse or in places without wind. It may be unnecessary if you place your plants outdoors where they receive good ventilation. Find a windy spot with bright light and exposed to rain, this might be the best conditions for most orchids.

Potting and Mounting
Orchids occurring in many different terrains and habitats resulted in the use of a variety of growing media and methods used by growers.

Orchids that grow on trees as epiphytes generally require a well draining and coarse growing media such as charcoal, bricks, clay chips, diatomite and many more. The purpose of having coarse growing media is to allow water to drain away quickly to prevent the roots from rotting.

Fern bark slabs are also commonly used to grow many epiphytes.

~ Deflasking ~
 

Step 1 - Gather items
Gather all the necessary tools you need to begin deflasking.
1. Hammer
2. Thick newspaper or towel
3. Orchid flask (Glass)

   
  Step 2 - Place bottle in thick newspaper
Place the flask in the middle of the newspaper. Make sure the paper is widely spread open.
   
  Step 3 - Wrap it up
Wrap the flask up completely.
   
  Step 4 - Break the glass
Hit the wrapped up flask carefully with just enough force to break the glass and not hurt the seedlings inside.
   
  Step 5 - Unwrap carefully
Unwrap the newspaper slowly to prevent glass chips from escaping.
   
  Step 6 - Begin washing
Place the seedlings with the agar in clean water for washing. You can also wash them under a running tap.
   
  Step 7 - Shake agar off
Shake the agar off with your fingers to release the seedlings safely. Transfer the seedlings in a clean tray of water.
   
  Step 8 - Place seedlings in water
You can furthur wash the seedlings or you can soak them in fungicide to help prevent rots. Grow the seedlings as soon as possible so that they won't dehydrate.
~ Growing Seedlings ~
  Step 1 - Gather items
Gather all the necessary tools you need to begin growing seedlings.
1. Thumbpots or Compots
2. Growing media: Clean Sphagnum moss
3. Orchid seedlings
   
  Step 2 - Make a sphagnum ball
   
  Step 3 - Place the roots on the moss
   
  Step 4 - Wrap them up
   
  Step 5 - Put it in a thumb pot
 
 

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