Japanese orchids can be somewhat more challenging to grow than typical household flowers, but the time and energy put into it will be rewarded with a unique splendor and elegance that few flowers in the world can match. Although the orchid family boasts the largest number of members with over 30,000 different species, in the flowering kingdom there are only about 300 varieties that are indigenous to Japan.
When it comes to caring for Japanese orchids, each species has its own specific needs. Some types require a lot of sunlight and will thrive in full sun in the summertime. Others can be quite light sensitive and can only tolerate partial sun in winter. Checking the leaves of the orchid can give you a clue as to what light requirements that particular flower has. Orchids with only a few tough, small leaves would probably need a lot of light, whereas an orchid with light, thin leaves may need a lot less.
Japanese orchids are known as epiphytes, which means that their root structure is exposed and they are not planted in soil. Japanese orchids need sufficient water drainage and air circulation to enable their roots to survive. Whatever material is chosen for the orchid to grow on should remain slightly moist most of the time. Orchids do not like to sit in water, so emptying the drainage tray is a must after watering. They do, however, like humidity levels between 60 to 80. During the winter months, it may be necessary to provide the orchid with a humidifier.
An orchid doesn't derive many nutrients from what it is growing on, so fertilizing it is a necessity. Most orchids don't respond well to fertilizers that contain urea, but there are many orchid fertilizers available that do not contain it. Most orchids need feeding about once a month, but this will vary depending on the species; only fertilize while the orchid is in a growing period.
When the roots of the orchid start to expand further than the material it is growing on, then it is time to re-pot. Most orchids are highly sensitive to being re-potted and sometimes won't bloom again for a year or two while they adjust to their new home. Fill the new pot with fir bark nuggets or another porous product that offers air circulation and water drainage. Place the orchid in the pot so the crown of the root structure is close to level with the top of the pot.
Orchids will react very quickly to undesirable conditions. If they receive too much water, the leaves can become weak and wrinkly and the roots turn soft and brown. If the roots are not getting enough to drink, they can become hard and white. If under or over watering is a factor, then re-potting the plant and devising a new watering schedule is the next best move. Sometimes if the heat or light sources are not adequate, the buds of the orchid will wilt prematurely and fall off. When this happens, it is time to completely revise the placement of the orchid and arrange an area that is more favorable.
- Photo Credit orchid image by Earl Robbins from Fotolia.com