Care Key - A guide to plant stats
As you browse through our available plants you will notice that each plant has a section with its stats. Within those stats are basic care information in regards to temperature, water and light requirements with abbreviations. Below you can find what those abbreviations mean and how you might achieve them.
Many orchids will do well when grown alongside us in our homes whereas others may not thrive. Whether or not your home temperatures will accommodate a plant will depend mostly on what you find most comfortable or if you have options (like a cool basement) in your home. Further, it's important to keep in mind that most orchids will appreciate a day/night difference of 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit.
The three abbreviations you will see: C, I and W.
C stands for cold grower but keep in mind that 'cold' is in terms of the tropics. These plants do not like hot weather and may have excessive leaf spotting, leaf dropping, poor growth and even death if kept too warm but they should also be protected from truly cold temperatures in which they might freeze.
Cold growers generally appreciate nights in the 45-55F range and days in the 60-70F range. In the summer, they usually tolerate nights around 60F and days below 80F.
I represents intermediate growers. These plants tend to be pretty tolerant when it comes to the extremes on a short term basis. A week with nights in the low 50s to high 40s likely won't harm them as long as they are kept dry. Days up into the 90s are usually tolerated if they have plenty of water to drink.
Intermediate growers do best with nights between 50-60F range and days from 65-80F.
W represents the warm growers. These plants don't want to be cold but many will tolerate temperatures into the upper end of the intermediate range. Keep them above 60F at night and below 100F during the day.
Water is for how the plant most appreciates the moisture in its media. How often you water will depend on many things including ambient temperature, relative humidity, light intensity and potting media. There is no one size fits all watering schedule so it will take time to learn your plant's needs. Once you have a handle on it, you won't need to check water status very often. Also keep in mind that many plants will have variable water needs depending on the time of year and that this is a general guide only.
In the plant stat guides you will see multiple abbreviations: DWR, D, DB, SM, M, and W.
DWR = Dry winter rest. The plant should not be watered until new growth begins in the spring. Examples are Habenarias and Cataseteums.
D = Dry. The plant should be dry more than they are moist. Examples are Vandas and Brassavolas. Please note that even though plants may require this, they may still need daily watering depending on how you are growing them.
DB = Dry between. Thoroughly wet the roots then allow them to dry before the next watering. Cattleyas typically fall into this water requirement.
SM = Slightly Moist. Allow the plant to almost completely dry out before the next watering but not completely. Some Oncidiums, Cattleya alliance and Dendrobiums fall into this category.
M = Moist. Keep the media evenly damp but not soggy. Miltoniopsis and many Paphiopedilums fall into this category.
W = Wet. Keep the plant well watered at all times. This most often applies to plants in the Phragmipedium group.
Light is a critical component to flowerings in orchids. Too little light is the number one reason that otherwise healthy orchids don't bloom. It can be difficult to assess appropriate light levels as our eyes are very good at adjusting the perception of brightness. For example, an office environment may seem very bright to us but the level of lighting would only support plants on the lowest end of the lighting requirement. Another difficult reading is if you grow under lights as the usuable light output to the plant may be high but the light reads dimmer. For this reason, we recommend the experimental approach. Put your plant in a condition that you think is appropriate and then observe it. Light green leaves and red pigments on the leaves are a good sign that you are in the ball park. Dark green leaves and failure to flower can be signs that you need to up the light. As a general note, you should always take care when increasing brightness for plants receiving natural light. Increased intensity and duration of sunlight can burn leaves so it's best to do so gradually and have a fan creating a light breeze to help cool leaf tissues.
In generally, you can get a decent idea of light levels by holding up a white sheet of paper then putting your hand a foot away from it, between it and the window. The shadow will give you a good idea of the intensity of the light. Do this 3-4 times on a sunny day to get an overall feel for the light levels the plant will receive.
For light, you will see five abbreviations: L, M, B, VB, FS.
L = Low light, 500-1500 foot candles. You will see a fuzzy, barely hand-like shadow on the white paper.
M = Medium, 1500-2500 foot candles. The shadow will be fuzzy but you should be able to easily make out fingers.
B = Bright, 2500-3500 foot candles. The shadow will be a crisp silhouette of your hand.
VB = Very bright, 3500+ foot candles. These plants will generally enjoy a few hours of direct sun per day but should be given a reprieve when the sun is at its most intense, generally midday.
FS = Full sun. While self explanatory, few orchids will fall into this category. Those that you do grow in full sun should be acclimated slowly to it over the course of a few weeks, gradually increasing exposure. During the acclimation process you will need to observe the plant carefully for signs of sunburn.