ORCHIDS: PANDAS OF THE PLANT WORLD

, posted in Flowers

By Dr. Adnan Younis, Dr. Atif Riaz and Akbar Ali Bhatti, Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad

Flowers are the beautiful gift for universe due to their sophisticated pattern and forms. They are ever enlightening and colors are conspicuous, pleasing, pleasant, ranging through all the shades and tints of rainbow. Due to these extra ordinary qualities, the orchids have got attention of flower lover all over the world. Orchids are one of the largest families of flowering plants, presently these are known to have 700- 800 genera and 25,000 species. Most of the genera in family orchidaceae belong to the tropical climate. Orchids are of considerable economic importance, particularly in horticulture trade and floristry but also have increasing demand in pharmaceuticals and fragrance industries. Some of the orchid flowers are used for a variety of traditional medicines and folk cures. In many parts of the world, certain orchids are also used for food and as food supplements whereas, in Asian tropics, its tubers are eaten like potatoes. Orchids are a major money-earner in many developing countries like Thailand.

Orchids are considered to be native of tropical and subtropical Asia and Australia. Some species of orchids have small, pale flowers; others have large, showy ones. In Pakistan, Orchids are mostly grown in Karachi because its climate is suitable for orchids. These are known as highly prized cut flowers in Pakistan. In Karachi, price of one orchid plant is Rs. 300 per plant. Many other cities like Islamabad and Lahore are trying to grow orchids under greenhouse conditions. In Pakistan, there is little awareness about the orchids. Hobbyists have successfully grown orchids and their hybrids on brightly lit window sills and even under artificial lights. The following care instructions apply to nearly all of the orchid’s hybrids.

Strong light is recommended for successful cultivation of orchids. Inadequate light levels will result in spindly stems and thin leaves with little or no flowers. East or west windows in the summer and autumn and south windows in the winter and early spring all give plenty of light to grow orchids well. Extended exposure to strong light or abrupt exposure of plants to high temperature in the presence of strong light can quickly cause permanent sunburn.
Most orchids require warm temperatures to grow and flower. A temperature range of 65 to 90° F will satisfy the need of most hybrids. If temperature exceeds 90° F, reduce light slightly so plants will not overheat. Lower temperatures during blooming will make the flowers long lasting.

The frequency of watering depends on the type of orchid, media, light conditions, container characteristics and temperature. In general, when orchids are actively growing, water once per week and allow them to dry slightly before the next watering. At each watering, apply enough water so that some drains from the bottom of the pot. Orchids rest after flowering; watering should be reduced at this time.

Orchids require regular fertilization to grow and flower properly, but too much fertilizer can quickly damage plants. Water-soluble fertilizers specifically formulated for orchids are available at most garden centers and are easy to use. Apply soluble fertilizers monthly, according to the rates recommended on the label.

Most orchids require 40 to 60 percent humidity throughout the year. In most homes the humidity is too low for orchids, and it must be supplemented with showering. High humidity is also a good environment for bacteria and fungi to develop, so sufficient air movement around the plants is necessary.

Orchids are commonly killed by being planted in soil. They grow best in soil less mixtures or attached to pieces of bark or cork. They require a growing media with extremely good aeration and drainage. The type of container can be either plastic or clay, although clay is often preferred due to its excellent porosity. If using clay containers enlarge the drainage hole or make additional holes on the sides (near the bottom) of the pot.

Orchids like to be root-bound. Do not repot them unless the new growth has come out of the edge of the pot. Potting media can be a mixture of medium size bark, hardwood charcoal or coconut husk chips. Press the media tightly after repotting. With proper care, you will enjoy your orchids for years to come.

Orchids are susceptible to a number of insects and diseases. Common insect pests include mealy bugs, spider mites, scales and thrips. Scales are usually attached to the underside of the leaves, and heavily affected plants should be removed. Snails and slugs feed on buds, blossoms, leaves and tender stems.

Diseases that are commonly a problem on orchids include leaf spots, petal blight, bacterial soft rot and many different viruses. Another common problem is the failure to flower, which is typically due to poor growing conditions, especially inadequate light and/or fertilizer.

About author: Dr. Adnan Younis is Assistant Professor in Floriculture & Landscape Horticulture at Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture Faisalabad Pakistan. He got his Ph.D degree frm UAF Pakistan and Post Doc from USA. He is very active in teaching, research, seminars, writing, landscaping and a lot of other activities at national and international level.

Contact: adnanyounis1976@yahoo.com

Copyright Hortist, 2013

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Hortist is a sustainable source for landscape horticulture news, solutions and resources, managed by a Landscape horticulturist from Pakistan. Hortist reports on importance of this very unique niche and how it improves the landscape of this world and lives of its inhabitants.