A physician with Dermatology Consultants of Wisconsin LLC, Dr. Steven Armus is also the owner of Native Prairie Restoration. Recreationally, Dr. Steven Armus maintains a strong interest in gardening and is particularly fond of growing orchids. Extremely beautiful flowers, orchids are notoriously difficult to grow and keep thriving.
One of the most important fundamentals to consider when growing orchids is that they are primarily tropical plants. Many people have circulated the tip of using ice cubes to water orchids, but this strategy is almost guaranteed to take time off the plant’s life. To mimic the natural environment, individuals should get a good potting mix that contains both bark and perlite. This sort of mix allows air to get to the roots, which is critical for orchid health.
Instead of using ice cubes, individuals should water liberally once a week and ensure that the bark becomes soaked. Over the week, the bark will release the moisture and create a humid environment like the tropical one that orchids prefer.
Typically, natural orchids are soaked daily with warm tropical rains and allowed to dry out in between. When growing them at home, it is important to let them get dry, a process that usually takes about a week. While the soil should not be bone dry, it should be free of excess moisture to the center of the pot.
Based in Franklin, Wisconsin, Dr. Steven Armus owns and operates a well-established dermatology practice. Concerned about the environment, he also owns and operates Native Prairie Restoration and provides conservation-focused horticultural services. In his free time, Dr. Steven Armus enjoys activities such as gardening, and he grows orchids indoors.
Known for being high maintenance, orchids are not difficult to care for properly as long as basic parameters are met. Originally from the tropics, they must be kept at room temperature, comfortably above freezing. Orchids respond only to north facing light and dislike wind and indoor drafts. The aerial roots they put out may not be aesthetically pleasing, but should never be cut. In addition, they should not be removed from the container in which they originally took root.
Another aspect of orchid care involves using soft water. Those who live in areas with hard water will want to boil the water first (and let it cool) before using it on the plants. Watering can either be done sparingly once a week or in one torrential drenching, which mimics the tropical rain storm. When drenching, use a bucket and quickly remove the orchid after the watering is through, wiping off excess water on leaves.
Once the orchid completes its eight week flowering cycle, trim the stem down to the lowest node from which flowers can emerge, which will stimulate new stem growth.
Steven Armus owns Native Prairie Restoration in Franksville, Wisconsin. Outside of work, Steven Armus enjoys working in the garden and growing orchids, a complex but rewarding pastime resulting in natural works of art.
Here are four tips for those just starting out.
1. Do the proper research. The most important step is to make sure that the orchid being grown is exactly what it appears to be. If it’s not clear what genus or alliance the plant is, it doesn’t hurt to take it into a local greenhouse or orchid society to double check. It’s hard to take care of a plant without knowing how it will react to temperature or light.
2. Choose orchids that will thrive in the local climate. It’s important not to choose a plant that will grow best in cold weather, if the environment is hot and muggy. Even if conditions can be simulated, it’s best to choose an orchid that will work best with what can be provided simply.
3. Use the proper amount of water. Unlike other plants, which can often withstand overwatering, orchids can easily die if given too much water. Water once a week, and allow the plant to dry out a bit to increase air circulation, which is vital for proper growth.
4. Keep an eye out for pests. When purchasing the orchid, ask a local grower or orchid society about what to look for in an unhealthy plant. The faster a problem is caught, the easier it is to treat.