Hi, I have been tending and growing plants of all kinds since the time that I was a child. My father was a gardener and visits to arboretums and orchid houses were a big part of my childhood. Being from a swampy and humid area, the orchid houses always felt comfortable and welcoming. It was no surprise that I developed an interest in orchids and other plants with similar habitats.
Back before I had the time and money that it required to actually keep orchids, I had to satisfy my floral cravings with silk flowers (They don’t need much care) and I spent a great deal of time just doing research. One of the most interesting things I came across was Miracle Gro Orchid Blend. People seemed to be completely polar on this product and I wanted to test it out for myself and draw my own conclusions.
I have now spent a year with Miracle Gro Orchid Blend and I feel like I have an actual grasp on it at this point. As with most potting mixtures, the recipe for this one has changed over time and the most recent recipe (as of 724/2012) is more water retentive than I would like it to be for orchids. It drains better than some of the older recipes, but one of the biggest problems is that this blend decomposes very quickly. In the course of 6 or so months the potting mix will have composted down into a mix that many find unsuitable for orchids and I would have to agree.
I don’t think that this is a bad product, my hot peppers absolutely love it, but it’s not perfect. I want to see this mixture include some more substantial and less easily decomposed components, like large chunks of bark or coconut shell. I also want it to drain a little better, but that will likely be remedied by the inclusion of some large, solid planting matter. If used in an extremely well-draining pot, this potting mixture won’t be a bad choice, but you can do a lot better for the money by mixing your own potting mixture. It didn’t kill my plants, so I didn’t need to rely on those silk flowers anymore, but a better potting blend would have helped my plants grow faster and spread their petals sooner and without such labor.
Inside the house
An orchid needs to be placed no further than one meter (or more preferably 50cm) from a window that is well lit especially during autumn and winter.
Regular living spaces of the house (dining room, kitchen, lounge, etc) are perfectly adapted if you take care to lower the temperature to around 5° at night, after the typical 18-20° temperature during daytime.
By using several different rooms, and being sure to choose the plants which correspond to their usual ambient temperatures, you could try other orchid types. Even easy-to-manage botanical varieties, which you could keep temporarily keep in your living room to enjoy them whilst they are flowering.
More than 60% of amateurs cultivate orchids in the house, 20-30% have a conservatory, and the remainder, a greenhouse.
The pros and cons of a conservatory.
Compared to the interior of a house, on the one hand, there is more light, a greater variation of temperature between the day and night, BUT, on the other hand, high temperature and excess of light in summer and the necessity to heat during winter to avoid falling below 10°, means that the choice of orchids is rather limited.
Cultivation behind glass.
A greenhouse has similar inconveniences to the conservatory, but allows you to cultivate difficult species which require a lot of humidity (needing frequent watering).
Certain amateurs prefer to cultivate their orchids in an artificially lit basement (neon, MH Lamps or HPS, etc…), in an attic, a room specifically fitted for orchids, glass display cabinets, aquariums…
The ideal would be a greenhouse divided into several compartments, each regulated to the temperature and humidity levels required.
To succeed in your first steps, it is imperative to start with easy-to-manage orchids like: Phalaenopsis, Cambria et Phragmipedium. Then, when you have a little more experience: Paphiopedilum, Vanda, Miltonia (Miltoniopsis)…
Finally, when hybrid orchids are no longer a mystery to you, you could move on to botanical orchids, of which the diversity is vast.