Green Fingers

Growing Orchids: Part 1

Are you like me, love orchids but fail miserably in growing them at home yet will never give up trying? If so, I am happy to share these tips from a friend on how to grow orchids in our high-rise balconies.

In this first part, we share how sunlight plays an important part in the life of your orchid plants.

Some orchids do very well in the sun, while others prefer a lot of shade. And somewhere between these 2 extremes would be the location to place your orchid plants. To find out, observe the amount of direct sunlight you get on a daily basis, and where it falls exactly. The answers to these questions will determine the type of plants that can bloom in your balcony.

Orchids in Direct Sunlight

If you get a lot of sunlight, you can grow almost any of the genera, ranging from full sun lovers like the vanda alliance, and cane dendrobiums to shade-loving plants which can be tucked into specially built sheds covered with an overhead netting.

Sun-loving plants (Top to bottom: Vanda alliance, Cane dendrobium)

Shade-loving plants (Top to bottom: Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilums)

Orchids in Shade

If your balcony gets only 1 hour of direct sunlight daily, and is not very bright to begin with, then you can only grow genera such as phalaenopsis and paphiopedilums.

The quality of reflected light is also important. Light that is thrown off white walls and floors is wonderful, provided that the heat does not come with it. A lot of plants such as cattleyas, oncidiums, and dendrobium types love this condition. This light does not scorch, and is often prolonged, so your plants get a good number of extra hours of illumination each day.

Loves reflected light (Top to bottom: Cattleyas, Oncidiums, Dendrobium)

Points to Note

  • Direct sunlight, especially the afternoon sun, can damage the leaves. One trick is to let your plant adapt to its surroundings by moving it in stages, from a shaded corner into a place with slightly more sunlight, and then to another spot with more sunshine until it is perfectly happy to be out in the open. This can take weeks of ‘mothering’ the plants but is well worth the effort!
  • As the sun shifts in its annual passage around the earth, you would notice a large difference in the amount of sunshine at particular corners of the balcony between the months of March and November. This can cause some plants to bloom more profusely at one spot and not at another, at any one time.
  • And where flowering is concerned, low night temperatures (experienced during rainy months) can also trigger spiking in some seasonal orchids.

In the second part, we will talk about wind, and more tips on how to care for your orchid plants. Do keep a look out for it.

You can also share with us your best gardening tips by dropping us an email at mynicehome@mailbox.hdb.gov.sg. 🙂

By Serene Fong
September 21, 2017


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A Newbie’s Guide to Indoor Plant Care


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