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Orchids indoors? Here are two types you can grow easily.

Orchids indoors?

Should you try growing orchids indoors?Orchids in the two groups shown at right are among the easiest and most satisfying for beginners, blooming well under the light and temperature conditions common in many homes. Their flowers are particularly long lasting.

Multiflowered spikes of moth orchid(Phalaenopsis) commonly last two to three months, and large healthy plants may bloom twice a year. Flowers are usually white or lavender-pink, sometimes yellow or tan, often with stripes or a contrasting center.

Lady's slippers (Paphiopedilum) bloomover a period of four weeks to three months. Warts, hairs, and stripes in green, tan, and mahogany give them an exotic look that people either love or hate. As they mature and become more prolific, some kinds bloom all at once in one spectacular display; others put up a few flowers at a time on and off all year.

The right spot

The ideal situation is in bright, filteredlight, as in an east-facing window. A south- or west-facing window can work if plants are placed somewhat back from the glass or if sheer curtains filter the light. A north-facing window may do if light is reflected in by a wall or paving outside. Insufficient light results in dark green foliage with no flowers. But direct sun scorches leaves.

To keep humidity high, set pot on pebblesin a tray or saucer filled with water, with the water level just below the pot's bottom. It also helps to cluster plants. If you have hot summers or cold winters, the air may be dry enough that you need to use a humidifier or to mist the foliage in the morning (keep it dry at night to avoid disease).

For moth orchids and lady's slippers fromwarm climates (usually ones with mottled leaves), normal indoor temperatures are generally fine: about 60| to 65| at night, 70| to 85| during the day. Most lady's slippers with solid green leaves need temperatures about 10| cooler--50| to 55| at night, 65| to 75| during the day. (In mild coastal areas, these cool-growing lady's slippers can be grown outdoors.)

Plants can get warmer without harm ifthey have plenty of moisture and humidity and good air circulation. They can take lower temperatures, but may stop growing. To flower, they must have night temperatures about 15| cooler than daytime's, particularly in spring and summer. For plants to hold buds and blooms, temperatures should be fairly constant and close to the ranges given.

Keep roots evenly moist all year. Wateronce or twice a week in warm weather and during vigorous growth, less often as growth slows. During active growth, fertilize with a quarter- to half-strength solution at least once a month.

Where to find the easy orchids

You'll find these orchids at many florist'sshops and a few well-stocked nurseries. For the best selection and advice on which to choose for your site, buy from an orchid specialist. These seven sell by mail (catalogs are free unless otherwise noted).

Beall Orchid Co., 3400 Academy Dr.S.E., Auburn, Wash. 98002. Fred A. Stewart, Inc., 1212 E. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, Calif. 91778 ($2). John Ewing Orchids, Box 1318, Soquel, Calif. 95073. Orchids by Rowe, 1251 Orchid Dr., Santa Barbara 93111. Rod McLellan Co., 1450 El Camino Real, South San Francisco 94080 ($1). Santa Barbara Orchid Estate, 1250 Orchid Dr., Santa Barbara 93111. Zuma Canyon Orchids, 5949 Bonsall Dr., Malibu, Calif. 90265 ($3; Phalaenopsis only).

Photo: Two easy orchids for indoors: moth orchid, left, bears sixto a dozen blooms on a spike; lady's slipper, right, usually produces one to three pouched flowers
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1987
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