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For the Love of Orchids

April 2, 2014

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

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Once rare and expensive, orchids now outsell every other houseplant. The 2014 All-Seasons Garden Guide gives us a look at six orchid beauties for your home.

For the Love of Orchids

Cattleya, “the classic orchid”

The showy “corsage orchid” has ruffled blossoms in luminous colors and a rich, heady, hint-of-vanilla scent. For this, it requires 5 to 6 hours of light per day. Move it outside in the summer and water copiously.

Oncidium, “the dancing lady orchid”

Easy-to-grow oncidium bears sprays that sway like dancing ballerinas. These fast-growing, fanciful flowers appear in every size, shape, and color that you can imagine. It needs filtered light 5 to 8 hours a day.

Phalaenopsis, “the moth orchid”

The best choice for beginners, this is easy to tend and fast-growing, producing lavish sprays of white, pink, yellow, red, spotted, or striped blossoms that last for 3 to 6 weeks. It’s very cold sensitive and needs a lot of humidity. Feed it well.

Cymbidium, “the buttonhole orchid”

Expect intricate, arching sprays with double rows of big (3- to 5-inch) bold blossoms in colors from pastel to primary. Native in many parts of Asia, cool-loving cymbidiums are really outdoor orchids; in southern California, they’re ideal garden plants. Cymbidiums are often fragrant, especially those with green flowers.

Paphiopedilum, “the slipper orchid”

This tropical species from Southeast Asia (related to our woodland lady’s slippers) tolerates low-light situations. It flaunts outlandish flowers in sensational and mysterious hues and often has patterned foliage that is attractive even when not in bloom.

Dendrobium, “orchid of many faces”

This light-loving plant thrives when it’s pot-bound, can’t stand to have wet feet, and doesn’t like to be disturbed. The flowers are most often white or purple and white. Use a small pot and repot it only every few years. 

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