Orchid love indoors and out

Wed. Oct. 28, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Orchid love indoors and out

grocery store orchids

While there are plenty of “grocery store” orchids (mostly phalaenopsis)  there are also a number of native orchids for our Upper Midwest area.

Yes, natives in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  In fact, the Showy Lady’s Slipper is Minnesota’s State Flower. Found living in open fens, bogs, swamps, and damp woods where there is an abundance of natural light, there are 17 orchid species that grow in Minnesota. The feminine-looking ‘Lady Slipper’ orchid grows slowly, taking up to 16 years to produce the first flowers! Blooming in late June or early July, the plants may live, on average, about 50 years and can grow to be over four feet tall.

Showy Lady’s Slipper orchid

This from Britannica: The orchid family (Orchidaceae) is the second largest family of flowering plants, with about 880 genera and some 26,000 species distributed nearly worldwide. Orchids are perennial herbs and feature unusual bilaterally symmetric flowers, with masses of pollen known as pollinia, and tiny, dustlike seeds. Many are grown as ornamentals for their showy flowers, and several are of economic importance as the source of the flavouring vanilla. The following is a list of some of the major genera and species in the family Orchidaceae, arranged alphabetically by common name or genus.

Orchid – ‘Fairy Slipper’ MN native photo by DNR
Orchid – ‘Northern small yellow lady’s slipper’ MN native photo by DNR

As for Wisconsin, Representatives from 18 genera can be found.  Both of the above Lady’s Slippers are native to Wisconsin as well.  Here’s MORE on Wisconsin natives with some amazing photos.

Orchid epipactis Wisconsin Photo courtesy of Dan Aussem

Grass pinks are pretty and tough…  further information at Illinois Wildfowers

Orchid ‘Grass pink’ photo by Illinois wildflowers

But we’re headed indoors now, so phalaenopsis is the orchid MOST of us think of and the ones found in those grocery stores and gas stations! That link will help you choose those “grocery” store orchids.

“Grocery store” orchids – click on the above link

For my money, I go to the local shops first.  For one thing, they know their product, so if you have questions or issues, they’re prepared to talk to you.  For another, they’ll pay more attention to their plants, giving them the care they need before moving to your home!

Think about where these guys are grown when you think about the indoor orchids need.  The American Orchid Society says Phalaenopsis are ‘low’ light orchids, that’s why they’re one of the most popular. They grow beautifully in an east window and can be grown in a south or west window if protected by a sheer curtain. A phal’s leaves should be olive green. If they are darker it means the plant is not getting enough light; red tinged leaves mean the plant is getting too much light.

There are numerous choices of orchids – talk with your local flower shop and see what they have to offer and what conditions may be suit your home!  More reading and viewing pleasure:

Types of Orchids – everythingorchids.com

Phalaenopsis Orchid – Rocket Farms

Orchid phaleanopsis from Rocket Farms