You can grow your orchids for corsages and flower arrangements right in your living room window!
Sounds impossible? Well, it isn’t.
I find a small homemade glass case as a foolproof aid in getting orchids to flower on my window sill.
Making The Homemade Glass Case
I made the case out of a window sash —about 3’ x 3’ x 3’ feet.
I used 4 sashes for the sides and one for the top. The top one is hinged at the back to be raised for watering and ventilation.
It is good to place the case on a metal-topped table level with the window sill.
I placed a 2″-inch-deep galvanized tray in the bottom of the case, allowing about 3” inches between the case and the tray on all sides.
I set the tray on bricks to elevate it about 6” inches above the tabletop.
I filled the tray with gravel and placed a piece of galvanized mesh wire over the gravel to hold the orchid pots.
To increase the humidity inside the case, I keep the tray half full of water.
The water level must never reach the base of the pots, for they should not stand in water constantly.
A temperature of 80° degrees Fahrenheit should be maintained in the case during the day and from 60° to 65° degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Heat can be supplied by a small electrical heating unit, like one from a chicken brooder, that has thermostatic control.
The unit is placed between the tray and the tabletop. See that no sun rays reach the thermostat since this would give an incorrect temperature setting.
Ideal Growing Conditions
My orchid plants are not grown on earth but in LECA (lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate), which holds much moisture.
This enables the plants to go for some time without the fiber becoming too dry. It usually takes about 2 weeks for the pot to dry thoroughly.
The potting medium should be saturated every time it is watered and then not watered again until the fiber is completely dried out.
Overwatering may cause wet rot, and underwatering may cause drying.
The second phase of watering is spraying the leaves. This can be done with a spray gun filled with water, preferably once or twice a day, depending upon whether the day is bright or cloudy.
A humiguide placed in the case helps control humidity.
Orchid plants need lots of fresh air. So the window sash at the top of my orchid case can be lifted and propped up with a block of wood.
I can also place a small block of wood under each corner at the bottom of the case to raise it a half-inch from the tabletop.
Air coming in through the bottom is warmed as it passes the heating unit and enters the case through the 3-inch space around the tray.
Selection Of Orchids At Different Seasons
If you are puzzled by the many kinds of orchids on the market, here is a selection that will give you flowers at different seasons:
- Cattleya labiata – October
- Cattleya percivalliana – December
- Cattleya trianaei – January, February, and March
- Cattleya schroederiana – March and April
- Cattleya mossiae – April and May
- Cattleya gigas – June and July
- Cattleya gaskelliana – August and September
Enhance your collection by adding a few hybrids—especially yellow and white varieties.
However, hybrid plants are more expensive than species plants, so it is best to gain experience with the species first. Some can be had for a few dollars.