Orchids are not that difficult to grow and flower provided basic cultural requirements are met.
Sunnyview Orchids offers epiphyte orchids which are plants that grow on another host such as trees and rocks.
The following cultural information is provided to give a basic understanding of the needs for the common genera offered.
Your first goal especially if you are new to orchids, is to establish what type of orchid it is. e.g Dendrobium, Cattleya, Vanda, Oncidium, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum are a few common ones.
Often the biggest killer of orchids is over watering. If you are growing in pots, Dendrobiums, Cattleyas, Vandas and Oncidiums all like to dry out before watering again, particularly in Winter. Phalaenopsis can handle drying out but not for extended times, while Paphiopedilums like to be slightly damp but not wet.
It is harder to over water plants on mounts or trees, as they dry quickly.
Media - the stuff they grow in
Orchids can be grown in many forms of media, from bark, rocks, quinkin gravel, spagnum moss, charcoal, perlite etc. Regardless of what you choose, it should allow air movement to the root system, which in turn allows the roots to breathe and dry after watering.
You should choose something that is locally available while accommodating your watering habits. If you water often, then either put the plant on a mount, or select something that will dry quicker and not hold moisture like rock. Paphiopedilums don't like their roots exposed and wont grow on a mount.
If epiphyte orchids like the ones Sunnyview Orchids sell, are grown in soil, they do not get the required air movement, and stay too wet for too long, and will eventually die.
Tip - Don't use soil or dirt.
Like us, orchids dislike spending the day in the sun. They grow best with filtered light particularly in the tropics. Considering they are epiphytes and typically grow on trees, they like some shading, and direct light in the middle of the day should be avoided. They should be given enough light to flower, but not enough to burn and each group has slightly different light requirements.
Vanda's are Sunnyview Orchids most sun tolerant orchids and will grow in brighter light or about 50% shade cloth. Dendrobiums, Cattleyas and Oncidiums grow well under 70% shade cloth, while Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilums enjoy an even darker environment. These light levels are relevant for Townsville which is in the dry tropics. Your environment may be different to that, and you should adjust accordingly, but rest assured, orchids are pretty resilient.
Tip - If the leaf is hot to touch, then the orchid is getting too much sun. If the orchid is mature and not flowering, then it could be getting too much shade.
Orchids are light feeders, but when grown with regular use of fertilizer will - grow better and bigger, be more resistant to pests and fungal attacks and have a better flowering. They grow best with a regular light feeding, rather then a single heavy dose.
Most hardware shops have a range of specialist soluble orchid fertilizers, and if you apply 1/2 the recommended strength every week, you will be on the path to success. There is also the option to use a small amount of granulated orchid fertilizers that sit on top of your media, so the orchid is fertilized with every watering.
Tip - Apply fertilizer weakly weekly.
Tropical orchids grow best when humidity is around the 70% level, but will tolerate other conditions. Air-conditioning removes humidity, so orchids placed in this environment can be quickly dried out and the flowers finish earlier. The plants health usually suffers in Air-conditioning. Likewise September in Townsville is typically dry, and plants will require more moisture to maintain good health.
In nature orchids grow in the canopy of forests or beside streams where humidity is maintained.
Pots and Mounts
Most orchids can be grown on mounts - cork, timber (not treated), tree fern etc. or trees particularly in the tropics, however it is not advisable for Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilums.
Vandas grow best in a basket that gets watered frequently, and dries quickly, although they can be grown in a pot or on trees.
Dendrobium's, Cattleya's, Oncidium's and Phalaenopsis grow best in squat pots. These pots are shorter then a standard pot and dry quicker. Dendrobium's grow better in a smaller pot then others, and like the root system to be confined. All of these types also grow well on trees and mounts.
Paphiopedilum's grow best in a tall pot that is only just big enough for the root system.
Species orchids (orchids found in the wild) often have variable flower duration, which depends on each species. They are all different.
Cattleyas have large fragrant flowers that can last 2-6 weeks depending on the time of year and the genetics. They last longer in Winter.
Oncidiums have long sprays of flowers in Winter/Spring that last 3-6 weeks
Phalaenopsis have long sprays of flowers in Spring, that last 2-3 months
Dendrobiums are highly variable with flowering year round and lasting 2 weeks to 3 months depending on genetic makeup.
Vandas are also variable with several flowerings a year lasting several weeks.
Paphiopedilums flowers can last 2-3 months.