Orchid plants are one of the oldest plants that have evolved over time. The orchid plant dates back millions of years and has had a significant role in many cultures over the years. These incredible flowers date back over 200 million years. Researchers date some orchid plants back to the Jurassic period, naturally growing alongside giant dinosaurs.
Orchid plants make up the largest flower group on the planet. Grown in every continent apart from Antarctica, these magnificent flowers come in all shapes and sizes. Available in almost all colours from deep fuchsia to crystal white, the only colour orchids are not available in is black. Many orchids have a beautiful scent, although there are a select few that smell horrible, purely to repel pests. Orchid plants are generally considered a symbol of love, beauty, wealth and fertility. These long lasting plants are a beautiful addition to any interior.
The beautiful world of orchids
The different kinds of orchids
Orchids plants come in many different beautiful shapes and sizes. It is thought that there are over 27,000 different species of orchid plants each with their own unique flowers, leaf and root structures. The major types of orchids that you may be familiar with in Qatar are;
- Phalaenopsis Orchids
Phalaenopsis orchids are readily available in the market today. These beautiful orchids have rounded delicate petals, long stems and dark green shiny leaves. Phalaenopsis orchid plants last a long time and this has made them a very popular choice for an indoor plant, with many people adding them to their office, home and place of work.
What makes the Phalaenopsis orchid special is the distinct geometric pattern of colours on the petals. It can look like a product of modern art. If you prefer a single colour petal, phalaenopsis orchids also come in the most beautiful colours from deep dark purple to a beautiful variety that resembles the colours of the sunset.
Oncidium orchid plants have many branches coming from one tall strong stem. Each branch has a collection of small delicate orchid flowers. Often referred to as a spray orchid by florists, these orchid plants go by the name of the dancing lady orchids as their delicate flower resembles that of a swirling skirt of someone dancing. These stunning delicate orchid plants are available in many colours, the most popular being yellow with tiny brown spots.
Oncidium orchids are no diva, they are easy to care for and propagate. Making these orchid plants an excellent starter for someone new to looking after orchid plants.
Dendrobium orchids are one of the largest orchid groups. Native to southeast Asia these plants are one of the easiest to grow. Unlike the Oncidium orchids, Dendrobium orchids have one long stem and many flowers are produced directly from the stem.
Vanda orchids, one of the most expensive orchids, are often seen without a pot and hung with their bare roots, leaves and flowers showing. These orchids have leaves that resemble a flat fan and large flowers that come in beautiful striking colours.
Cymbidium orchids, often found in our flower shops are beautiful long lasting sturdy orchids. With many flowers on one strong thick stem, these orchids are perfect to add to a vase with a few stems of salex. A simple arrangement that will create a real impact.
Finally the Cattleya orchid. This orchid plant produces beautiful fragrant flowers in many vibrant colours with stunning ‘frilly’ edged petals. These orchid plants are easy to grow making them a very good houseplant to add to your collection.
All of these orchids are also used in our beautiful flower arrangements as cut flowers along side other flowers like peonies, roses and hydrangea.
How to take care of your orchids
Orchid plants may seem complicated to take care of, but with these simple orchid plant care tips you will find your orchids lasting longer and re blooming year after year.
It is a common misconception that orchid plants need a lot of water because they generally originate from tropical climates. This in fact is not the case and is the most frequent cause of harming your orchid plant. The roots of an orchid plant need more air than your average plant and need the chance to dry out between waters.
There are three ways to water your plants. Firstly you can submerge your plant in water once every 2 weeks. This will ensure your plant is equally watered and the roots are allowed a chance to ‘dry out’ before being watered again. To do this gently remove your orchid plant from the pot, being careful to keep the bark that surrounds it and allowing the roots to be in water for roughly 10-15 minutes. Making sure the water is not hot or cold. Once the time is up remove your orchid and place it back into the pot along with the bark.
Secondly you can add 1 ice cube to each plant per week. Why an ice cube? Well it will limit the amount of water you give to your orchid plant and ensures the roots do not rot from overwatering and it also makes your life easier.
Thirdly you can add the water directly from a bottle or watering can directly to the plant. Ideally the water should be distilled or cooled boiled water. Add ¼ of a glass of water to the plant making sure there is no water left standing in a pool at the bottom of the pot.
Here are a few extra tips to tell if your orchids needs water. Green roots on an orchid plant are a sign that the plant is getting the perfect amount of water. If the roots are soggy and brown then your plant is getting too much water and finally if the roots are grey or white in colour then the orchid plant needs more water. Just like the peace lily plant the orchid plant can also show that it ‘needs’ water when the flowers droop a little. Give it a little water and they will soon perk up.
How to look after your plant
The leaves on your orchid plant should be kept clean from residue, such as dust and water droplets. This will encourage photosynthesis, which in turn will keep your plant happy and healthy. Gently clean the leaves with a damp cloth moving the cloth from the stem outwards across the leaf to remove any residue.
Orchid plants are naturally from humid environments and although outside in Qatar is humid it is difficult for our indoor environments to remain humid due to the air conditioning. The easiest way to create humidity is to gently mist your orchid plants with a fine water mist, spraying the orchid leaves and roots once or twice a week will help to recreate the humidity that the orchid plant loves.
Keep your orchid plant in indirect sunlight, by this we mean in the bright light but not directly in the sun. Orchid plants love light, but if they are put directly into the sunlight they will get ‘sunburnt’! An ideal position for your orchid plant to encourage flowers and growth would be in a place that has consistent light and temperature.
To ensure you get the most flowers from your orchid you will need to fertilise your plant with orchid fertiliser. This is available at our garden centre. Simply add a little fertilser to your water once a month and this will encourage your plant to produce flowers and stay healthy for longer.
Once your orchid has finished flowering, and the flowers have fallen off your plant you can cut the main stem. Cutting this stem will ensure your orchid can use all its energy to create a new stem that will create more beautiful flowers. Simply cut the stem at the very bottom near the leaf. Leave one nodule and cut above that. This will allow the orchid to focus all its energy on producing strong new leaves and roots for the next flowering. For more general maintenance tips and tricks for plants take a look at our blog.
Orchid plants, if looked after correctly, are a plant that will last many years. They are beautiful with their stunning unusual flowers. In our opinion their evergreen shiny leaves are also a beauty to behold. Did you know you could eat orchids? For more information out orchid plants take a look at our edible plants blog.