When my roommate brought home an orchid, I was worried that it would die knowing how difficult they can be to keep alive. But it was so pretty, so I wanted to keep it in our apartment. I looked up the care and found that it seemed a lot easier than I originally assumed, but I figured I would keep poking at it. I kept finding that it was being cared for. When I mentioned how some people can find them difficult to keep alive, she said “I don’t know, I just water it every so often and I guess it likes what I am doing”.
Orchids have a rich history. There are over 25,000 varieties that come in every color but black and they grow on every continent except for Antarctica. Different cultures have believed in different medicinal benefits. Traditional Chinese medicine believed that orchids would heal coughs and lung ailments. The Greek associated orchids with male virility and fertility. The Aztecs would drink a mixture of vanilla orchids and chocolate for strength. That’s right, vanilla comes from a particular type of orchid. For those, like the Victorians, who didn’t believe they had medicinal properties, they liked to collect them and show them off for their beauty, something that people continue to do today.
Orchids have a reputation of being a plant that is difficult to care for. However, though they require water more frequently than other plants we have discussed, overall, they are a simple plant to care for. The biggest mistake people make is not watering them properly. Orchids are very prone to overwatering and that is often what kills them. How you water them properly is to soak them. But you cannot water them too soon after. To know they are ready to be watered again, stick your finger into the soil an inch. If the soil is dry, then they are ready for another watering. This typically takes about a week. They also like to be placed in south or east window where they receive plenty of indirect sunlight. They are prone to scorching if they receive too much. They like humidity. The preferred range is 50-70%. During growing season, they like it when their living environment is 15 degrees cooler at night than during the day. This is the optimal living environment for their flowers to bloom.
The good news is that despite popular belief, they are safe for dogs, cats, and humans. While like any plant, you don’t want your pets to eat them, they are non-toxic and will not hurt your furry friends. Just make sure that they don’t destroy it!