Auburn, Ala. –“Orchids remind me of home,” said Deb Bailey, a former liberal arts professor at Auburn University. Bailey grew up in northwest Alabama. “When I think of orchids, it makes me think of the spring season. My grandmother used to grow them on her sun porch and I have memories of watering them with her.”
Known for their different flower structures and their asymmetric growing patterns, orchids attract many homeowners and gardeners across the South. Not only are they a plant that has a variety of interesting shapes and colors, but their lifespan can last years or even decades.
If properly cared for, orchids can live for a long time. If they lose their flowers, no worries, they can re-bloom again after eight months. For them to live a healthy life, they need to have the right humidity level and the right amount of light. Luckily, the South has a high humidity level and a lot of light.
When to water your orchid can be a tricky question. There are many contributing. “If you are growing indoors in a house that uses central heat and air, you may need to mist your orchid in the morning,” said Dr. Jeremy Pickens, a nursery and greenhouse Extensions specialist. “On average orchids need watering every other day, but it is good to let the root ball dry out some before the next watering event.”
How to properly plant an orchid relies on their roots. “The roots prefer a well-drained potting mix. You can buy potting mixes specifically for orchids,” said Dr. Pickens.
Whether to keep your orchid indoors or outdoors depends on your preference. As long as you properly care for your orchid in the right climate. If the weather is mild, you may prefer to have them outside, but kept out of direct sunlight. If you know there is a freeze coming, which may be rare in the South, make sure you bring your orchid inside. The frost can damage an orchid.
“I keep most of my orchids inside so I can enjoy their beauty. I water them once a week and keep them close to a window,” said Sally Elliott, an orchid grower in Birmingham, Alabama. “They require little maintenance, but provide a lot of happiness.”
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