“What’s a spike?” A glossary of orchid terms

At the NYBG 2010 Orchid Show

Learning about orchids can feel like learning a foreign language. When I first started surfing the internet for information about orchids and how to care for them, I felt a little dazed and confused; orchid lovers on forums were throwing around all sorts of terms that meant absolutely nothing to me. Over time these terms became a part of my vocabulary, and I want to share with you a glossary of the terms that I encounter most frequently when reading about orchids. So below is a list of terms that I wish I’d known when I got started with the hobby. Of course there are a million more terms out there to learn—the world of orchids is virtually endless—but this list should help you on your way to understanding these wonderful plants.

In alphabetical order:

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How to Water a Phalaenopsis Orchid

Phalaenopsis orchid in bloomNOTE: I recommend reading my updated post about how to water orchids. 

Phalaenopsis orchids are the most readily available orchids and tend to be an orchid newbie’s first; however, many of these beauties don’t come with instructions. Proper watering is key to maintaining a healthy and happy orchid plant, so I’m here to offer up some advice on how to water a Phalaenopsis orchid.

First, let me explain the issues with improper watering. When an orchid is over-watered its roots will rot, which prevents the orchid from absorbing water and nutrients; as a result, the plant will die a lot sooner than you’d like. Conversely, under-watering dehydrates the plant and slows its growth, meaning the plant won’t offer up as many of those beautiful blooms. And the blooms are why we buy orchids, right?!

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