On Sunday I drove down to Northampton and the annual Orchid Show put on by the Amherst Orchid Society. I do not grow orchids because I always think they require a greenhouse. However, anyone who has ever received a phaleanopsis orchid as a gift knows that it will live happily on a bright, but not sunny, windowsill. I walked through the orchid show with Bill Benner, a member of the Amherst Orchid Society, who has about 100 orchid plants on his windowsills.
I did not get the name of this orchid but it won Best in Show of the small orchids.
A shower of old on these snowy frigid days w as a great joy.
I was particularly taken with this large, about 2 feet tall, cymbidium. Bill said this could be grown on a windowsill, but it is so large that not many people grow them at home. I could see him thinking he could fit three or four smaller orchids in the same space.
I took away the little pamphlet put together by the Amherst Orchid Society which said: “Orchid plant range in size from creeping plants no larger than a patch of moss to 30-foot giants with a 6 foot flower spike. . . . There are approximately 20,000 species of orchids in the world. It is the largest family of flowering plants. . . . There are around one dozen species of orchids native to Western MA. Some of them are very rare and others are fairly common.”
Bill told me that some orchids need sun but others require light, but no sun. Most prefer temperatures of 70 degrees or more during the day but cymbidiums are hardier and need cooler temperatures to initiate flower spikes. An essential concern is to never overwater. While there are terrestial orchids, most orchids do not grow in soil. Orchid planting medium is a bark mix that drains quickly.
The Amherst Garden Society is a member of the American Orchid Society. The AOS website has a lot of information for orchid growers, and would-be orchid growers including Culture Sheets for the many types of orchid.
Dues for the Amherst Orchid Society are $20 annually and should be sent to Marion Jackman, PO Box 92, Leicester, MA 01524. Among the benefits is a monthly newsletter.