Calhoun Magazine

January - February 2017

Dalton Daily CItizen, Calhoun Magazine

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14 | Calhoun Magazine | January/February 2017 S ome boast big, bold blossoms balancing on long, wobbly shoots. Others appear dainty and delicate. And then there are those sporting whimsical polka dots and out-of-this-world patterns. Though the H[RWLFEHDXW\RIRUFKLGVLVULYDOHGE\IHZRWKHUÀRZHUV many of us are reluctant to try our hand at growing these exquisite plants. Somewhere along the way, orchids gained the unwarranted reputation of being the divas of the houseplant world²GLI¿FXOWWRNHHSDOLYHDQGUDWKHU temperamental about blooming. Two of my friends grow fabulous orchids each year. Patsy Townsend Bryant lives just outside of Fairmount. Her orchids are unbelievable. And my friend Pauline Melton Aft also has a green thumb when it comes to growing these beauties. Both Patsy and Pauline insist that with a little knowledge and effort, almost anyone can grow an orchid. "The most common orchid found for sale in our area >(DVWHUQ*HRUJLD@LV3KDODHQRSVLV´VD\V6KHOO\0 Prescott, Head of Horticulture at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. "These can be purchased at most big box stores and at grocery stores that sell orchids and other houseplants." Indeed, I've seen Phal orchids for sale at both Home Depot and Kroger in Calhoun. They are beautiful and affordable—just $8 to $40 depending on the size and pot. Beginning growers fall madly in love with Phal orchids because they are stunning, easy to grow, and their blooms can last for weeks. These beauties often grace the glossy pages of interior decorating magazines posing on window VLOOVFRIIHHWDEOHVDQGNLWFKHQFRXQWHUWRSV(DFKDUFKLQJ spike can grow up to eighteen inches long and support up to WZHQW\ÀRZHUV7KHEORRPVUDQJHIURPWZRWRIRXULQFKHV across and pop with color. ³,WKLQNWKHPRVWFRPPRQPLVWDNH¿UVWWLPHRUFKLG growers make is over-watering the plants," Prescott says. "The potting media needs to be moist—not too wet or too dry. And you should always avoid watering the crown of the plant." Phal orchids grow wild in the tropical regions of 6RXWKHDVW$VLDDQGWKH3DFL¿F,VODQGVZKHUHWKH\DWWDFK their roots to the bark of trees and rocks. Unlike other plants, their roots are never submerged in dense, wet soil. To mimic their natural growing environment, Phals are grown in special potting mixtures (moss, bark, lava rock, etc.) that provide full drainage and ample air circulation. Water must drain completely through the potting media. "And yes, you need to fertilize your orchid, but use about half the strength of normal houseplant fertilizer," Prescott adds. The amount of sunlight can also be tricky for new orchid growers. Phal orchids thrive in bright, indirect light, like the diffused or early morning light of an east-facing window. If the orchid doesn't get enough light, it probably ZRQ¶WSURGXFHÀRZHUV7RRPXFKGLUHFWVXQOLJKWZLOO scorch its leaves. No sunshine? No problem. Phals will grow under DUWL¿FLDOJURZODPSVDVZHOO Finally, orchids favor indoor temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit with good air circulation. Just like other houseplants, Phalaenopsis orchids need to be repotted every one to two years. When the potting mix begins breaking down or compacting, or several roots grow over the edge of the pot, it's probably time to repot, but ZDLWXQWLODIWHU\RXURUFKLG¿QLVKHVLWVEORRPLQJF\FOH To repot, Prescott suggests using a small container (an inch larger in diameter than the orchid's original container) with holes for drainage. Carefully remove the orchid from its old pot and gently untangle the roots. Clip away any dead or diseased vegetation. Place your orchid in the new container so the top of the root mass rests just above where the potting mix surface will be located. Add the orchid potting mix to the container, packing the mix loosely around the mature roots. Allow new roots to rest on the surface. Stake the orchid if necessary. The orchid family is a diverse and widespread family of ÀRZHULQJSODQWVIHDWXULQJWKRXVDQGVRIVSHFWDFXODURUFKLG species and hybrids. Once you've mastered growing Phal orchids, try growing Dendrobium and Oncidium orchids, too. You don't have to have a green thumb to grow an orchid—just a little know-how and the right growing conditions. For more information about growing orchids, check out the Atlanta Orchid Society (www.atlantaorchidsociety.org) and the American Orchid Society (www.aos.org) websites. Pauline Melton Aft grew these spectacular orchids in her Dalton home.

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