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Growing miniature orchids.

Miniature orchids are group of plants that are about 6 inches tall. In general, orchids are diverse plants with variances in size, color and preferred growing conditions. With this fact, orchid hobbyists can choose certain orchid species or hybrids in the market which are small enough to grow and enjoy their blooms in their home. Due to the popularity of living in condominiums, miniature plants, especially orchids, has become popular in the market. Locally, we have some species which are small enough to be called miniatures. These include Ascocentrum, Phalaenopsis, Cymbidiums, Paphiopedilum, Bulbophyllums and Dendrobiums. There are also orchid species and hybrids that are miniatures, like those belonging to the genus Oncidium, Cattleya, Brassovola, and Laelia,

There is a diversity of miniature orchids in the market, each having different splash of flower color. Some even have fragrances. These orchids are smaller than the standard-sized orchid. Orchid varieties, such as cattleyas, cymbidiums and dendrobiums, come in miniature sizes. Miniature orchids grow in size from 6 to 24 inches tall, depending upon the cultivar. Growing and caring for them indoors does not differ much from standard-sized orchids, except for temperature conditions.

They are practically easy to grow, as long as you learn some of the basic rules in growing orchids. First is light. Orchids need light in order to grow. Place plants near the window where they will receive filtered morning light, or you may provide artificial fluorescent lights in a shelf. Western windows or where the plant will receive afternoon sunlight proves to be too hot for the plant, and may cause sunburn. Orchids that are often kept in the shaded or dark areas of the room will certainly wither and die in the long run.

Monitor the leaves' color for proper light levels. Dark-green leaves indicate not enough light, while medium green indicates adequate light. Keep the windows and leaves dusted allowing adequate light transmission. Rotate the orchid once a week for an even light transmission if it is by the window.

Another important factor is watering. Most orchids either normal in size or mini, require a dry spell in between watering. They need to have time to be dried, and should not always be wet. Too much watering can cause orchids to rot, especially if the room is too damp. For dry air-conditioned rooms, the plant may benefit if they are placed over a plastic pan with pebbles and half inch of water. The water should never touch the bottom of the plant, and this usually provides moisture or humidity to the plant.

Remember it is better to kill an orchid through overwatering. Also, water soaked plants tends to rot. Thus, when in doubt, do not water. Or you may check the inner moisture of the pot by inserting your thumb into the pot.

Another technique is to mist with water the leaves of the orchid between watering. Watering is a tricky thing and it will depend on your orchid. Usually, orchids without storage stems like Phalaenopsis, Vandas, Arachnis, require watering every other day, while orchids with pseudobulb like Cattleya, Dendrobiums, Oncidiums and Cymbidiums, including the dwarf Ascoscenda miniatum needs watering every three days. You may bring plants in the kitchen sink and generously shower them with water.

For plants with erect stems, they may need some mechanical support so that their stems will not break. A plastic rod or a sturdy aluminium wire will be enough to support the stem, and even the flowers. Tie the stem to the rod or wire using a plastic coated wire.

Orchids will benefit from a weekly spray of fertilizer. After watering, spray plants with a dilute solution of orchid foliar fertilizer once a week. This will provide the plant with sufficient nutrients for optimum growth. It will also make plants strong and resist pest and diseases.

Repot orchids every 1 to 2 years. For tropical orchids, charcoal, broken clay, chunks of coconut husk, chopped tree fern roots and a thin top dressing of sphagnum moss is ideal for orchids.

For more information on available miniature orchids available in the market, you might want to consult your local garden club, or visit the nearest weekend garden center in your area.

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Title Annotation:Home & Garden
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Sep 24, 2014
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