My New Orchid Setup in DC

Now that we’ve settled into our apartment in DC, I thought I would share my new orchid growing setup here. We’re rending a condo on the top floor of a 4-ish story building (the bottom floor is an English basement). Our apartment gets mostly northern exposure, which is not great for orchids, but one room has a brighter, eastern-facing window…and we have a loft and several skylights!

Phal that I treated myself to from our new neighborhood Whole Foods that opened up a couple weeks after our move.

I’ve claimed the loft as my office and orchid growing area, and my husband has taken the room with eastern exposure. So instead of an orchid room in this apartment, I can say I have an orchid loft. 🙂  Our building is old and the top floor has a lot of angled walls, especially in the eastern-facing room. The condo layout requires a little more creativity to find good orchid growing locations, with the added challenge of needing all plants to be out of reach of Walter, our cat who will eat any plant he can get his furry little paws on.

Due to the skylights, the loft is pretty bright; as long as it’s sunny outside we don’t even need to turn any lights on during the day. However, I’m still not sure if the northern and overhead light is enough for my orchids, and I’m pretty much using a trial and error approach with their growing locations for now. I did buy a Dr. Meter light meter ($33.99 on Amazon) so I can take light readings and get a sense of whether I need to get some grow lights. I’m not well versed in artificial lighting for orchids, so that’s something I’ll likely have to educate myself on. I’m still trying to get a handle on how to read the light meter, but I’m getting the sense that my orchids need brighter light. They really weren’t all that happy in our last apartment—I don’t believe I had even one new spike in the year-and-a-half we lived there—so I’m hoping I can eventually coax some spikes and blooms out of them in this new place!

I’ve placed my orchids in a bunch of areas around the loft. The main spot is this black plastic shelf (find a similar unit here), which is currently holding most of my Phals as well as my growing supplies. I only put the orchids on two of the shelves because Walter would be able to get to them if they were any lower. This unit is one spot I have yet to fully organize even six weeks after moving.

I put some Ikea bookshelves along the wall across from the black plastic shelves, and they seem to be a good spot for orchids. The top of these shelves is pretty close to one of the skylights, so it might be some of the best light in the apartment for orchids. As far as I can tell the skylights don’t direct light right at these orchids, and I haven’t seen any sign of sunburn on them. In this location I mostly put Phals but I also set a Dendrobium, an Oncidium, and a Rhyncohstylis here.

At the top of the loft stairs is this amazing nook with built-in bookshelves (it might be my very favorite part of the apartment!!).

Built-in bookshelves are THE BEST!

There’s another skylight in what I just now realized I should call the Book Nook, and the wide, flat surface atop the shorter row of bookshelves is just high enough for me to place orchids without worrying about Walter reaching them. I put a couple Phals there, along with my Cattleya, a Dendrobium, and an Oncidium.

Yes, that is David Hasselhoff’s head on a stick. We got it at San Diego Comic-Con many years ago.

The next pic gives you a better idea of the loft’s layout, which is fairly long and narrow. It’s hard to get a good photo of the loft in its entirety:

My desk is to the left of where I was standing to take this pic

We have a wine fridge near the sliding glass doors in our living room (the doors go out onto our private deck!!), and the top of that fridge seems to be a good spot for some of my smaller orchids. The wine fridge is the black unit on the left side of the below photo.

Looking down on the living room from the loft

I’m also displaying my new Phal on top of the wine fridge. The pots you see at the front of fridge in the below photo contain French breakfast radish sprouts that I recently started growing from seeds. They seem to be coming along nicely!

I recently placed one Oncidium and one Phal on a small shelf just under the eastern-facing window in my husband’s workspace to see how they fare with that exposure. I could try growing some orchids out on the deck, but it does get quite windy up here so I’d be afraid that they’d get blown away. I’d also be afraid of them getting pests! I don’t think I’m ready to try the outdoor orchid thing just yet.

My entire setup is still a work in progress, and I imagine things will end up shifting around as I learn more about which orchids like which areas in the apartment. Who knows, I could potentially end up rearranging the entire loft to make sure they have better light, but I think I’d actually prefer to try grow lights because I rather like the way the loft is currently laid out.  🙂

So that’s it for my new orchid growing setup! As far as DC goes, I’m really liking it so far! I’m getting out quite a bit and seeing what the city has to offer, and it’s pretty great. It’s so amazing that so many of the cultural institutions are free!

This post contains affiliate links. Please note that I did NOT receive any of the above products for free in exchange for promotion for any of the brands listed.

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