Orchid Growing Fears:
Facts and Myths
You could certainly call them the ultimate houseplant hobby – there is so much to learn. In the world of flowers, orchids are the undisputed champions; owned by the wealthy long ago, but today are within reach of all. If you have not tried growing orchids, you are missing one of nature’s most beautiful offerings. I’ll try here to explain the most common fears to sway your decision.
Even you can grow orchids
Anybody who grows houseplants can grow orchids. With some attention to light and temperature, there are many popular species that will do well in your home or out on your deck. Like any other plant, an orchid must have the growing conditions needed to survive and it’s up to you, the owner to supervise this need. Still – orchids are amazingly sturdy and resilient.
Orchids are too challenging
Well yes, that’s why friends of owners admire them so much wishing they too could be as talented. Because there are so many varieties of orchids, there is always something more to learn. New discoveries are made every day, giving the world of orchids an ever-widening horizon. But wait – it is an interest that provides as much of a challenge as you like or want. Be selective.
They are too hard to grow
Almost not true; and certainly unfair. Like any houseplant, orchids need water, food, light, and air. If you can grow other garden and house plants, try growing orchids. All it takes is a little understanding and care.
Orchids are parasites
Hardly… of the 20,000 species of orchids that grow around the world, not one is parasitic. In nature many orchids cling to trees and bushes as a growth habit; but they take nothing from the host plant. Orchids that grow on trees are called epiphytes or more commonly, air plants.
I don’t have a greenhouse
Not necessary at all… many popular orchids can be grown in your home in a window or under lights. Some are able to withstand a light frost. When selecting a plant, choose those that will survive in the environment you have to offer. That was easy!
They grow best in the jungles
Some do, some don’t. Every country in the world and every province in Canada have its orchid species, including the Arctic. Ontario for example, has more than 60 species of native orchids. No jungle there.
They aren’t fragrant like other flowers
Another myth; some are powerfully scented, others less so. A few orchid fragrances defy description, while others resemble familiar fragrances – raspberry, coconut, lilacs, citrus and vanilla. Some have no scent at all, but rely on shape and color to attract insects or birds for pollination.
The blossoms come and go so fast
Well now, this really depends on the type, plus factors like culture and care. Here’s an example: blooms of hybrids like Cattleya family may last from one to four weeks, but those of the Phalaenopsis family commonly last from one to four months! Which do you favor?
They take special soil
Actually, most require none. In nature, orchids can be divided into four types according to growing conditions. Most are classified as epiphytes, or air plants – growing on trees with no soil. The rock growers, or lithophytes, cling to surfaces of rocks, no soil there either. Saprophytes are those that grow in mulch, often on the forest floor. Finally, there are the terrestrials that anchor themselves in soil or sand. As most orchids are epiphytes, they can be grown in tree bark, crumbled charcoal, pebbles, or on wooden or cork plaques.
Orchids cost too much for my budget
Once a rich man’s hobby, orchids today are within the reach of any income. Modern reproductive methods make it possible for grower’s to enjoy the finest plants for a few dollars. You can spend as much or as little as you like on this hobby. But be warned: trying to own just one orchid is like trying to eat just one chip.
Orchids don’t like drafts or the cold
As a matter of fact, orchids require moving air – they do best where there is a steady breeze. After all, in nature, orchids are subject to all kinds of weather. And like most plants, orchids prefer a middle range of temperatures, neither too hot nor too cold. It depends on the plant. Generally however, the climate in the home favors the intermediate species.
Orchids don’t live long
False; in fact some species are virtually immortal, given the proper attention. Divisions or propagations of orchids discovered in the 19th century are still growing and blooming today – a botanical heritage from an earlier century.
Like cactus, orchids don’t bloom often
Again this depends on the plant. Some bloom once a year, others bloom several times a year, some bloom continuously. The most popular types bloom in winter and spring, but orchids may be found that bloom in any month of the year.
Orchids can’t be transported
Orchids are portable, that’s one of their greatest assets. Because they grow in pots or baskets, they can be carried anywhere. Many growers use blooming plants as living centerpieces in their homes. Orchids are routinely mailed and shipped across the country and the world.
Want to learn more about orchids?
Perhaps the most useful place is to contact your local grower and make friends. And your best bet is to join your local orchid society. There are also chat groups online and mailing lists available for making personal contact with orchid experts.
Esther Smith, author
All orchids have both the male and female reproductive structures fused into a single structure commonly called a column. It is important to note however, that even though the reproductive parts are contained in the same structure, orchids have evolved a highly efficient system of insuring that self pollination never takes place. For more facts on orchids visit=>