...Orchids & Indoor Bonsai...

    

Orchids
(Skip down to Bonsai!)

The elegance and beauty of orchids is unmatched in the botanical world. These graceful beauties are among the most celebrated and widely collected tropical houseplants. At Belgian we carry Phalaenopsis Orchids year-round, with the best selection in the month of March during our annual event Hawaiian & Caribbean Days. Other types of Orchids such as Cattleya and Oncydium may also be available in March, though availability depends on our suppliers.

Phalaenopsis Orchid:
The most common variety grown in the home, this orchid is an epiphyte which grows roots on tree trunks under the rainforest canopy, collecting moisture and nutrients from the air. In our homes we place them in pots with orchid mix and enjoy their incredible blooms for 3 to 6 months! The most common colour of the Phalaenopsis Orchid is white; they also come in shades of purple and, sometimes, yellow.

Oncydium Orchid:
Oncydiums produce numerous small flowers that are clustered on tall stems with long slender leaves. Their flowers last for about 3 to 4 weeks. Oncydium orchids are fairly easy to grow as long as they receive extra humidity; misting is recommended.

Cattleya Orchid:
Cattleyas have large flowers that last about 4 to 5 weeks. They only flower on new growth, which takes about 8 to 10 months to develop. Cattleyas require full sunlight and like to be root bound.

Lady Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum):
Lady Slippers produce 1 to 3 blooms that last about 3 to 4 weeks. These orchids require special attention, especially extra humidity.





The whole month of March at Belgian Nursery!

Experience a tropical get-away! Warm up from the winter cold by walking through our tropical and orchid greenhouses.  During this month select tropical plants and orchids are on sale.





-open/close- -open/close-Success with Phalaenopsis Orchids – Care & Tips


Light:

Orchids prefer medium to bright light. The ideal location is morning sun (East window) or late afternoon sun (West window). They cannot handle direct sunlight as this causes them to burn, so South windows should be avoided during the long hot days of summer. 


Watering:

The timing between watering depends on how much light and humidity your Orchid receives,  as well as the time of the year. Orchids like to dry slightly, then watered well. Drain any excess water away. If you leave your plant sitting in water you may cause the roots to rot. 

Misting and Humidity:

Orchids prefer humidity; misting the leaves on a daily basis will help to increase the humidity for your plant. The best time to mist is in the mornings, to ensure that the leaves are dry by evening to prevent rot. Another way to increase humidity is to use a pebble tray: use a larger saucer and fill it with rocks, pebbles or even a smaller upside-down saucer. Set your plant on top fill the larger saucer with water, which will evaporate and surround your Orchid, thus creating more humidity. The key with using a pebble tray is to make sure the water level is never touching the bottom of your pot, as this would create root rot.

Fertilizer:

Your Orchid should be fed plant food regularly. There are different ways to feed orchids: we recommend either an all-purpose or a flowering plant fertilizer. Choose one of these, then use it either a) twice a month mixed at half strength or b) once a month at regular strength. There are other specialty Orchid fertilizers available which are also suitable; just follow the label for feeding.

Temperature:

Your Orchid likes to live at temperatures around 18°C to 25°C (65°F to 85°F). Generally, if your house temperature is comfortable for you, then your Orchid is happy. It is best to never expose your plant to temperatures below 10°C  (50°F) or above 38°C (100°F). Transporting Orchids in cold (freezing) weather is safe when wrapped; never leave an Orchid in an unheated vehicle.

Repotting:

Generally the Phalaenopsis Orchid requires repotting every 2 to 3 years. At this time you may need to simply replace the orchid mix or repot into a larger pot - do not use potting soil. There are different types of potting mediums for Orchids; which type you choose is a personal preference. Belgian carries a prepared mix of bark chips and coco fibres which is great for repotting Orchids. Sphagnum moss and straight bark mixes are also excellent choices as they both allow for quick drainage. Trim off any decayed roots when repotting your Orchid; you can place some of the air roots in the pot or keep them out as they were.


Plant Problems:

Poor watering practices are the #1 killer of most Orchids. Root rot is caused from  watering too often or being left to sit in excess water. The roots will start to rot slowly, then the leaves will become droopy and wrinkled to compensate for the rotting roots. To try and cure, take plant out of the pot, remove damaged roots and replant in new orchid mix. Then change watering habits.

Dehydration is caused from not enough water or allowing too much time between waterings. Leaves will droop and become wrinkled. To try and cure this, water thoroughly, being sure to drain excess water away, and mist frequently.

-open/close- -open/close-Reblooming your Phalaenopsis Orchid


Flowering & Re-blooming:

Each time a Phalaenopsis Orchid flowers it sends up a new flower spike. When the flowers are finished, cut the old flower spike back to just under where the first (oldest)  flower opened. This spike may, on occasion, send a bonus side spike that will grow out of the nodes from lower on the flower stem; the nodes look like little leaves over the stem. Think of these as bonus flowers as they will not appear on every plant or from year to year. To cut the rest of the spike back, wait for it to turn yellow or brown and cut it back in stages as it dies.

Orchids usually flower once a year, but may take a year off to rest once in a while. Phalaenopsis usually send their new flower spike out in January or February, during the shortest length of natural daylight. If your plant refuses to flower, holding off on the fertilizer for two to four feedings in the fall  will sometimes help force your plant into flower. Just remember it still needs to be watered.  Another trick is making a slight temperature change over night to slightly cooler than normal.

 

Indoor Bonsai & Air Plants

Bonsai are miniature trees grown in pots. The goal of Bonsai is to capture the essence, spirit, and beauty of a large naturally-aged tree in a pot.

Bonsai allow you to create a living art form in your own home. They are a fun way to challenge yourself and, with the proper care, can be very rewarding.

At Belgian we carry a year-round selection of indoor bonsai starter plants and potted specimens. They make great gifts and can be accented with bonsai figurines from our Main Store.

The History of Bonsai:

The art of Bonsai comes from ancient culture, originating in China and then developed by the Japanese. During the 13th century, the Japanese collected dwarf wild trees, potted them and sold them. As the demand for these grew, the Japanese began to train native trees by shaping them to create the look of age and to simulate a natural setting. 

Currently, many people are growing Bonsai at home and tropical varieties are being used for growing indoors. As a living art form it makes a great conversation piece.



Tillandsias  (Air Plants)


Tillandsias are air plants that live in the tropical rainforests of Latin America. They grow completely without the need for soil! They are primarily found clinging to tree branches, rocks and some are even found on the sides of desert cactus! 



Tillandsias absorb moisture and nutrients through their leaves, rather than through a root system. This makes them unusual and unique from other plants. They can get beautiful, long lasting blooms. After flowering they produce baby plants on their sides which will grow. These will flower next.

Tillandsias can be glued to wood or shells and are best placed in humid locations.





-open/close- -open/close-Starting Your Bonsai

Starting Your Bonsai:

First choose a starter plant that will be appealing to you and fits your plans of shaping. Then select a pot for your Bonsai: for a starter plant in a 4” pot, a Bonsai dish 2” deep with a 4”-5” diameter is ideal.

Place a small stone or piece of screen over the hole in the bottom of the pot to prevent soil from washing out. Remove your Bonsai starter plant and gently shape the roots  to fit the new Bonsai pot - this is done by massaging the roots with your fingertips to avoid damaging roots. Plant with cactus soil and add pebbles or stone on top for decoration. Copper wire can then be added for shaping, if desired. (See Styles below)

-open/close- -open/close-Success with Indoor Bonsai – Care & Tips

Light:

Medium to bright indirect light. The ideal location is morning sun (East Window) or late afternoon sun (West Window). They cannot handle direct sunlight as this causes them to burn, but you can place them in a South window so long as the plant is set far enough back.

Watering:

The timing between watering depends on the size of your Bonsai and how much light and humidity your plant receives. Keep soil evenly moist: not wet,  not dry. When soil is slightly dry water thoroughly, then drain any excess water away. The main killers of most Bonsai are root rot or dehydration. Rot is caused from  watering too often or being left to sit in excess water. Dehydration is caused from not enough water or allowing too much time between waterings. 

Misting:

Bonsai require humidity; misting the leaves on a daily basis will help to increase the humidity for your plant. The best time to mist is in the mornings, to ensure that the leaves are dry by evening to prevent rot. Another way to increase humidity is to use a pebble tray: use a larger saucer and fill it with rocks, pebbles or even a smaller upside-down saucer. Set your plant on top and fill the larger saucer with water, which will evaporate and surround your Bonsai, thus creating more humidity. The key with using a pebble tray is to make sure the water level is never touching the bottom of your pot, as this would create root rot.


Fertilizer:

Bonsai like to be fed monthly with an all-purpose water-soluble fertilizer. Indoor Evergreen varieties like Junipers can be fed with a higher nitrogen fertilizer (like 30-10-10) once a month during the spring and summer to support new greener growth. Flowering types can be fed with a water-soluble flowering plant fertilizer once a month in spring and summer to promote flowers.

Repotting / Root Pruning:

Repotting is usually necessary every three to five years. At this time they may require a larger pot (one size up) or they can be root pruned and planted back into the same pot. Bonsai prefer sandy soil; cactus soil works well.
To prune roots, loosen roots gently and trim off a small portion. Return plant to original pot and plant in new soil. When roots are pruned, branches should also be pruned to compensate for lost roots.  

Pruning:

Pruning will help to keep your plant nicely shaped and looking full. Use a clean pair of scissors or snips to trim any branches that are in undesired locations or growing in the wrong direction. To keep the foliage thick, simply trim the tips regularly to encourage new sprouts.

-open/close- -open/close-How to Shape your Bonsai and Styles of Bonsai Shaping

Styles of Bonsai (Shaping):

Current styles of Bonsai are taking a more relaxed approach. 

There are five traditional styles:
Semi cascade - A curving trunk that does not touch the bottom of the pot. Good style for Junipers.
Cascade - Resembles a tree growing off an embankment, with the trunk curving below the bottom of pot.
Formal Upright – An easy style that features a straight trunk.
Informal Upright - The trunk bends and curves slightly to the side or front.
Slanting - The trunk has up to a 45º angle from the pot, with its low branches in the opposite direction.

Copper wire can be spiraled gently around trunk and main branches to train them to your desired shape. Gently bend wired branches regularly to attain the desired look, removing the wires once the training is finished; this may take a few years to achieve.

-open/close- -open/close-Success with Tillandsias (Air Plants) - Care & Tips


Care:

Light: Medium to bright indirect light.
Water: Mist or submerse in water 2 to 3 times per week.  
Fertilizer: Add an all-purpose water-soluble fertilizer to water once a month.