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blooming plant of the month

Hyacinth - Blooming Plant(printable PDF)
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     Regardless of type, size or shape of orchid, blooms have six “petals”—actually three sepals, two petals, and a third modified petal that forms a lip.

     Colors vary by genus, but collectively, orchids are available in virtually every hue except blue-green and blue (white, cream, purple, lavender, magenta, red, pink, orange, peach/coral/apricot, yellow, green, brown and bicolors). Most are bicolors, with spots or blotches on lips and/or petals.

    With proper care and ideal environmental conditions, individual orchid blooms can last for weeks, bloom spikes can last for months and plants can last for years.

     Most genera of orchids are available year-round from a variety of sources around the world.

indoor and consumer care

Potted orchids require as much bright indirect light as is available every day; however, do not expose these plants to direct sunlight.

WATER The most common mistake with potted orchids is overwatering. Most orchid plants (except Cattleyas and Miltonias) require an evenly moist—but not waterlogged—growing medium, so water plants regularly.

  • Thoroughly soak the potting medium during each watering. Problems arise from frequency of watering, not the amount of water. Frequency will be affected by temperature, humidity, air circulation, amount of light, type of pot (plastic or clay) and type of potting medium. With Cattleyas and Miltonias, allow the potting medium to become fairly dry between waterings.

  • For best results, water orchid plants in the morning.

  • Water orchids less frequently during winter months.

  • Orchids must have pots with good drainage so water can flow out and roots and potting media won’t rot.

TEMPERATURE Most potted orchids prefer daytime temperatures during the summer between 70 F and 80 F and nighttime temps between 60 F and 65 (all orchids require cooler nighttime temperatures—at least 10 degrees lower than daytime temperatures). During the winter months, daytime temps can drop to as low as 60 F and nighttime temps to 55 F; however, cold drafts and prolonged exposure to temperatures lower than 50 F can damage orchid plants.

HUMIDITY Orchids require constantly humid air, so mist leaves lightly but regularly with distilled water (to prevent spots on leaves), preferably in the morning; place pots on pebble trays; place open bowls of water near the plants; or run a humidifier in the room. Avoid misting Vanda orchid plants.

AIR CIRCULATION Orchids will not tolerate hot, stuffy conditions, so make sure there is good air movement in the room, especially in warmer environments.

ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Some orchids, including Cymbidium and Phalaenopsis, are very sensitive to ethylene while others, including Dendrobium, are less sensitive; regardless, it is wise to protect all orchid plants from exposure to ethylene.

FERTILIZER Fertilize potted orchids that are in bloom every time you water (less often during winter months), with an orchid fertilizer. It is best to water orchid plants prior to feeding. At least once a month, flush the potting medium with plain water to rinse away salt buildups, especially with plants in clay pots. Do not feed orchid plants that are not in bloom.

GROWING MEDIA Orchid potting media generally include a combination of any or all of the following ingredients: fir, pine or redwood tree bark; coconut husks/coir fiber; sphagnum moss and/or peat moss; perlite, vermiculite or similar material; gravel and/or sand; and charcoal. These materials won’t compact around the roots (allowing air to circulate), and many retain moisture.

REPOTTING Orchids generally like to be pot-bound, so don’t worry if a few roots grow outside the pot. Repot these plants only when growth begins to suffer and/or when the potting medium begins to decompose—usually every two years. Use only a potting medium developed specifically for orchids (see “Growing Media,” above).

GROOMING Remove blossoms from the bloom spikes as they fade. Periodically, wipe the topsides and undersides of plant leaves with warm soapy water to remove dust as well as insects that may hide on the plants. Wipe with the grain of the leaves. Do not use leaf shine on orchid plant foliage.

REBLOOMING With proper care, most orchid plants will rebloom although each genus of orchid has its own flowering frequency, time and “triggers.”

  • The flowering of some orchids, including Phalaenopsis, is triggered primarily by temperature. These plants will initiate bloom spikes (given enough light) when the nights start to get cooler.

  • Other genera, including Cattleya, are triggered primarily by light. It is important that these plants not be exposed to artificial light at night because it will confuse them and interrupt flowering.

  • Still other genera have internal blooming clocks and will bloom on their own schedules rather than being triggered by temperature or light.


If the spots are hard and dry, the plant has likely been scorched by the sun. Move the plant out of direct sunlight, and do not try to cut away the spots. If the spots are soft, the plant has a fungal disease or viral infection, and you should immediately remove all affected parts with a sterilized knife or other cutting tool.

BROWN LEAF TIPS This is a common sign of overfertilization and/or improper watering.

PALE FOLIAGE This is either a result of exposure to direct sunlight or not enough bright indirect light.

MOLD/MILDEW ON LEAVES This is due to leaves being excessively misted or misted during cool conditions, which prevents the moisture from evaporating quickly.

PLANT DOES NOT BLOOM Failure of an orchid to rebloom is due to unfavorable environmental conditions—most likely insufficient light (especially if the plant is healthy) but also improper temperatures, too low humidity, incorrect watering, too much fertilizer, not enough air circulation, etc.

WHITE COTTONY-LOOKING MASSES ON LEAVES These masses are mealybug infestations. Remove the mealybug masses with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, then further clean the affected areas with a cotton pad soaked with alcohol. Repeat the procedure weekly until the infestation has been completely eliminated.

  fun facts  

FAMILY MATTERS The Orchidaceae (orchid) family is generally conceded to be the largest family of flowering plants in terms of number of species (estimated to be as many as 30,000). It also is estimated that there are as many as 800 or more genera of orchids, many of which are intergeneric hybrids (crossbreeds).

GROWTH HABITS Orchids have a vast array of growth habits, which they have adapted from a variety of habitats. The most common are:

  • Epiphytic - grow on the branches or trunks of trees and other plants, above the ground. They extract nutrients and moisture from air, dust, dead bark, leaf litter and so on. They do not feed on the living tissue of their hosts.

  • Lithophytic - grow on rocks

  • Terrestrial - grow on/in the ground

All of the orchids on these pages are epiphytes; however, some species of Arachnis, Cattleya and Dendrobium orchids are also lithophytes; some Cymbidiums are also terrestrial; and some Paphiopedilums and Phalaenopses are also lithophytes and/or terrestrial.

POLLINATION Except for the few species that are self-pollinated, most orchids are pollinated by insects or hummingbirds.


Some information provided by:

Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, The, by Barbara Pleasant
Chain of Life Network® ,
Dictionary of Plant Names, by Allen J. Coombes
Flora’s Orchids, by Ned Nash and Isobyl La Croix
House Plant Expert, The, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
Hortus Third, by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
McLellan Botanicals
New Pronouncing Dictionary of Plant Names by Florists’ Publishing Company
Worldwide Orchids

Super Floral Retailing •• Copyright 2010
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.