You are here

ARCHIVE

McDonald Garden Center has
A healthy orchid’s roots will be light green when dry and dark green when wet.
Orchid leaves should be free fro obvious blemished, bugs, soft spots.
select a plant with unopened blooms, you'll enjoy the overall show for longer.

Tips on Selecting an Orchid

Nowadays, most people don’t give much thought when buying an orchid. Orchids are readily available in grocery stores, big box stores and online and, oftentimes, priced for just about anyone’s budget. But if you want your orchids to endure, a little more thought than simply putting a Phalaenopsis into your grocery cart is needed. McDonald Garden Center offers some unique and interesting plants — and orchids are among these. In fact, we have one of the largest orchid selections in Hampton Roads.

When selecting an orchid, it's a good idea to take a few steps to guarantee you're getting the healthiest plant possible, one that will survive long past its first bloom. Here are a few steps to help ensure that you’re orchid will endure overtime:

Give it the Jiggle Test
Gently grab the plant near the potting media and wiggle it a little. If the roots haven't firmly affixed themselves to the pot, gently lift the orchid from the container and carefully inspect. If it's firmly affixed to the pot, don't tear it out - you don't want to damage the roots. It's okay if a few roots are poking out of the top of the pot.

It’s Root-a-mentary
The roots are the most important part of the orchid plant. Orchid roots are extremely specialized organs that collect water and perform photosynthesis. A healthy orchid’s roots will be light green when dry and dark green when wet. There should be a long, pointed and shiny green growing tip. The longer the growing tip, the better. Dead orchid roots are shriveled and tan when wet and white when dry. A plant with no living roots will not survive very long. When repotting, it is best to removed the non-functioning dead roots.

Assess the Leaves
Some orchids have thin, pencil-like leaves, while others have fleshy, flat leaves. Look for leaves that are thick and rubbery, lightly colored, and firm. Leaves should be slightly yellow-green, almost like a green apple. Leaves should also be free from bugs, obvious blemishes, and mushy spots.

Tip: Mushy spots are often caused by viral bacterial. The bacteria is easily spread through unsterile cutting tools and splashing water. When handling infected orchids, sterilize everything that touches the plant. Alcohol dips between each use of tools and hands is helpful when disease is found.

Don’t “Count" on the Blooms
If you're buying an orchid in flower, resist the urge to buy a plant with all of its blooms already opened. Long-lasting orchid blooms might last for a month or more, but if you select a plant with unopened blooms, you'll enjoy the overall show for longer.

What’s in a Name?
If you are buying an orchid for exhibition or crossing with other orchids, it's a good idea to make sure your orchid has a tag containing its full name whenever possible. Beware of plants labeled as "ORCHID" or "FLOWERING ORCHID." It's best to know the orchids full species or hybrid name whenever possible. This way you can learn more about that particular variety, and if you decide to start a collection, it's good to know what you're growing.

Acclimate Your Orchid
It's okay to display your new orchid on the table for a week or so when you first get it home, especially if it's in bloom, but keep in mind that no orchid will survive for long on a dining room table without proper care (light and watering, etc.). Your orchid will need an adjustment period to get used to the new growing conditions. In commercial production, the plants are in an accelerated state. It takes time to adjust to the slower growth in the home environment. If the room is dark or the air is very dry for too long, you may have some bud loss. For long-term success, it's best to enjoy your orchid in a key position for a few days then move to your best growing area to improve vigor. An inexpensive houseplant light meter is very helpful in identifying the best locations for your plant. Remember, you're most likely to lose unopened buds when you take the plant home.

In the first few days after you get your orchid home, it’s best not to expose the plant to direct sunlight, cold drafts or downdrafts from vents, or get carried away with watering. It’s better to let an orchid dry out somewhat than drown. Orchids like high humidity and regular moisture, but they have a limited tolerance for constant exposure to water, which can cause black rot and kill the plant.

Orchids are one of the most prevalent species on earth. Armed with the species name, it is easy to find the part of the world and the growing conditions that occur in that plant's native habitat. The American Orchid Society
information sheet is very reliable when researching new species or when identifying problems. Click here to view The American Orchid Society information sheet.

Snake Plant
Boston Fern
Peace Lily
Golden Pothos

Freshen the Air, the Natural Way

Of course, that potted Boston fern is beautiful, but can it really improve the air quality in your home or office? Well, according to studies by scientists at NASA, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Georgia and other institutions, houseplants are effective, natural purifiers.

Scientists studying the air-purification abilities of indoor plants have found that plants can absorb gases such as carbon dioxide, benzene (found in some plastics, fabrics, pesticides and cigarette smoke) and formaldehyde (found in some cosmetics, dish detergent, fabric softener and carpet cleaner), all of which are every day, indoor VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that plants help to remove.

So, how do indoor plants eliminate pollutants from the air? Plants absorb these gases via their leaves and roots, and microorganisms that live in the soil of potted plants also play a vital role in counteracting VOCs and other pollutants. It's this ability that facilitates photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light energy and carbon dioxide into chemical energy to fuel growth. These VOCs and other indoor air pollutants (such as ozone) have been linked to many acute conditions, including asthma and nausea, as well as other chronic diseases like cancer and respiratory illnesses.

Although most houseplants can be an effective way of removing indoor air toxins and contaminants, some plants are better at it than others. Researchers have found plants most useful in removing VOCs include spider plants, Boston ferns, English ivy, areca palms, golden pothos, aloe vera, snake plants, and peace lilies.

Click here to learn more about houseplants for cleaner air.

Calathea
Smaller varieties are ideal for tabletop display.
Calathea are loved for their large, oval, distinctly patterned, and vibrantly colored leaves.

Bold and Beautiful Calathea

Calathea is a tropical plant also known as the Zebra plant or Zebrina plant (Calathea zebrina). These trendy houseplants are loved for their large, oval, distinctly patterned, and vibrantly colored leaves. Leaves can be curved, ribbed, round, oval or pointed and exhibit various unique patterns. Leaf colors range from yellow, rose, white, and even olive. Calathea's fancy foliage makes smaller varieties an excellent choice for tabletops, and larger specimens are suitable as a floor plant.

Calatheas originate from the jungles of the Amazon in South America, growing beneath the shady layers of overgrown foliage in warm, humid conditions making them a perfect fit for low-light areas within your home such as a bathroom or hallway or any room that receives limited amounts of light.

Calathea plants can be a beautiful addition to your home. Just make sure to take the time to provide it with everything it needs. Here are the basic Calathea care requirements:

LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS:
Calathea prefer bright, indirect light; so, placing it in front of an east, west, or north window is ideal. Too much direct sun can burn the leaves and may cause leaf colors to fade.

WATERING:
Keep the soil moist but never soggy. Allow the top 2-3 inches to dry out before watering. Never let a Calathea plant sit in water. Water as soon as the surface begins to dry up. During the cooler and darker winter months, you may water a little less.

FERTILIZER:
Feed your Calathea monthly in the spring, summer, and fall with a basic houseplant food and follow the directions on the package. Feed only during the growing season.

TEMPERATURE:
Calathea like temperatures between 65-80 degrees and do not like cold drafts or temperatures below 55-60 degrees.

HUMIDITY:
Humidity is a must for a Calathea plant. Brown leaf edges may be a sign that the air is too dry. Humidity can be increased by placing your Calathea on a tray of wet pebbles (be sure the pot is on the pebbles and not in the water), or by grouping plants together to create a greenhouse effect.

SOIL:
Use a good, light, porous indoor potting soil that retains water but drains quickly.

Click here to view Calathea varieties.