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Monday, June 26, 2017

Orchids in the Desert? No Problem.

Q. I've a small collection of Cymbidiums, Cattleyas, Phalaenopsis orchids and staghorn fern plants. I am moving from California to Henderson. Will I have any luck in continuing to grow them after I move? What kind of different care will I need?  
Orchids at our farm in the Philippines
A. I have grown easy to grow orchids like Phalaenopsis and Cymbidium without any problems in the open air here in the Mojave Desert. We have them on or farm in the Philippines but that's cheating. I have even kept them in an open atrium without extra humidity in Las Vegas during the winter without problems. I just keep an eye on the temperature and the sunlight. It is surprising the temperature and humidity extremes they can handle. Orchids in the Philippines kind of suffer through the dry season until rains come beginning in July.
Tiger orchid
            Staghorn fern is going to be different. Unlike orchids, they don’t require a lot of light. But they will begin to look ragged if you don’t provide them with extra humidity. Staghorn, as well as birdsnest ferns, will be difficult to keep looking good without some control over humidity. You might consider a humidifier in the room where you keep plants more sensitive to humidity.
Angel orchid
            Use distilled water spiked with a small amount of fertilizer when you water. Check the salinity of your irrigation water and keep the salinity below an EC of 2.0 mmhos/cm (dS/m) when you water any houseplants.
            Our tapwater coming from the Colorado River has high salt levels that could damage sensitive plants if they are watered with it regularly. Never mist them with it. Likewise, it’s not good to water plants with straight distilled or RO water.
            There is a local group of orchid growers that you could reach out to called the Greater Las Vegas Area Orchid Society. They can be found on the Internet at http://www.glvos.org/

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