Bugs & Buds
bugsnbuds@yahoo.com
 
   Home      Growing Tropical Orchids
 
 GROWING TROPICAL ORCHIDS
    for the Beginners
 
Many people are fascinated by orchids, one of the most beautiful and interesting plant families in the world. However, with the massive numbers and variations of orchid species and hybrids, growing of orchids can be challenging for beginners.
 
Orchid's Natural Habitat

To grow orchids well, we must understand their natural habitats.  In the wild, orchids have adopted to growing in different conditions. They can be found growing on tree branches, ground and even rocks. Providing the similar condition is essential to growing them well.

Epiphytic
Terrestrial
Lithophytic

Epiphytic orchid
Most tropical orchids are epiphytes. They cling to tree branches and objects that provide support. They also obtain their nutrients from moisture in the air.
Terrestrial orchid
Some orchids are terrestrial, with the roots in the soil. Terrestrial orchids may be rhizomatous, forming corms or tubers in the ground. They obtain their nutrients form the soil like other terrestrial plants.
Lithophytic orchid
Strong adaptive ability may allow some species to grow on rocky surfaces. They are more drought tolerant.
 
Growing Orchids

The most important factors for growing orchids well are sunlight, watering, humidity, ventilation, potting materials and nutrition. Different orchids do have different requirements. The right cultural conditions have to found for the particular plants. 

Depending on the genus, the leave form, growing behavior or ancestry can provide some clues on their preference for sunlight.

Vanda

Based on their leaf forms, there are 3 main types: strap-leave, terete and semi terete. Strap-leaved orchid requires more shade and water. Whereas terete orchid prefers more sunlight. 
[Terete Vanda has been reclassified as Papilionanthe. However, it is still considered as Vanda horticulturally]

Strap-leave
Semi terete
Terete
 
Dendrobium

The 2 most common sections of dendrobium in Singapore are Phalaenanthe and Spatulata. Phalaenanthe requires more shade whereas Spatulata requires less shade. Intermediate type is the hybrid between orchids of the 2 sections and so is its preference for sunlight.

Phalaenanthe
Spatulata
Intermediate type
 
Vandaceous Hybrids
 
This group of epiphytic orchids are are hybrids between vandas and their alliances. Some are climbers. They are actually epiphytes but adopted to growing in soil. The taller the plant is the more sunlight it prefers. 



Pararenanthera
Mokara
Arachnis - Climber

Phalaenopsis

There are 2 main groups of Phalaenopsis, Eu Phalaenopsis and Stauroglottis.  Eu Phalaenopsis is sub tropical species. Stauroglottis is tropical. As such, Eu Phalaenopsis requires more shade.
 
Eu Phalaenopsis
Stauroglottis

Oncidium

Based on the leaf forms, there are 3 main groups of Oncidium: soft leaf, Equitant and mule ear. The thicker the leaves are, the more sunlight it prefers and more resistant to draught.
 
Soft leaf
Equitant
Mule ear


Common Plant Problems
 
If plants are not cultivated properly, poor care may lead to problems of algae, bacteria or fungi growth on the leaves, stems and roots of the plants. 

Plant overgrown
Red spider mites
Yellow beetles

 
More information can be found in this book, "Growing Tropical Orchids". This book gives very basic and simple illustrations for beginners in growing orchids. With more than 150 photos, this book introduces 6 common groups of orchid hybrids in Singapore and methods of growing them. The reader will also be acquainted with knowledge on the upkeep of orchids and solutions to treat common pest and disease problems. Practical, comprehensive and concise, Growing Tropical Orchids is a must-have of every budding orchid hobbyist.

["Growing Tropical Orchids" is available at Gardens by the Bay Gift Shop ]