Friday, January 22, 2010

Winter Orchids - More About Winter Orchids

One of the best things about orchids is that you can find blooming orchids year round. At this time of the year, the most popular orchid houseplant, Phalaenopsis, is blooming. These plants have long graceful inflorescences (stems) holding large flowers. They will last up to four months under good household conditions and are a real bargain when compared to other blooming plants or cut flowers. The flowers come in a variety of colors from white, pink, purple, red, orange, and yellow.

Another winter favorite is the Cymbidium orchid. These cheerful plants will flower for around two months in a variety of colors
and sizes. They come in a variety of colors from white with colored lips, through the oranges and reds, and lavenders. They have been bred for years and it is possible to find almost any color or color combination that you wish. The standard size will produce inflorescences of approximately 3 feet or, or 90 centimeters; the compact and miniature plants are somewhat smaller and the inflorescences only one or two (2) feet or 30-60 centimeters. They are very popular on the west coast in the United States and are often used in outdoor plantings in the northern part of the state where there are cool but not freezing temperatures. My favorite variety to brighten up a dull January is the lemon yellow varieties with up to 15 flowers on an inflorescence.

Many Oncidium Alliance plants are now blooming with a profusion of small flowers that will move in a breeze. Their fanciful name, Dancing Ladies, describes exactly how the flowers look as they move. They come in an amazing variety of sizes and colors for all decorating needs and will last for about a month. One of the most interesting of these is the Psychopsis orchid which looks like a big butterfly at the end of its stalk. They are bright yellow with orange striping. Another interesting member of the Oncidium family, Tolumnia is a tiny plant which will fit into any space. They need a fair amount of sun to bloom, but are long
lasting and very showy.

Another winter flowering orchid is the Paphiopedilum or Lady Slipper. You would never guess that they are in the orchid family when you first see them. They have a large dorsal (top) petal, two side sepals and a slipper shaped lip after which they are named. They come in colors ranging from green through the darkest purple. Some have but one flower on an inflorescence, while others are multi-floral or have more than one flower on an inflorescence. The flowers are very long lasting and the plants will grow in low light situations making them very popular for windowsill growers.

So, brighten up your January and February with one of these blooming orchids and chase away the winter blues!