Thursday, 3 April 2014

Orchids and Summer

Spring... the most beautiful season of the year where every plant has sprouts new growth, new leaves and every sign of a new year...

A young new shoot...
For Orchids too, this is the best growing season with plants coming alive with new shoots. The first spring and the sudden on set of summer therein sprung a new surprise for us. Suddenly our plants leaves seemed to be getting wrinkled and the shoots were shrinking. It looked like our plants were suddenly looking weak. Plants which looked fresh and strong, looked like they were going to die. Frantically, we did a lot of searching and as usual got even more confused.
An orchid that really needs attention
A dendrobium affected by lack of humidity...

Finally we realized that the sudden change in temperature and the rapid drying due to the heat gave the orchid very less humidity to absorb. Moreover, Bangalore (where we are), has very less humidity even otherwise.

Identifying heat stress on your plant

Some of the tell tale signs of plant stress due to lack of humidity are :

1. Wrinkling and drooping of leaves
2. Shrinking of shoots
3. Leaves turning yellow
So, what was the solution? Watering them more often was the easiest but then, with the urban lifestyle, watering once itself was difficult enough. So we experimented with our dear plants over the years and are happy to share with you some of the solutions to an Orchid's Summer woes.

Tips to keep your orchids growing well in Spring and Summer:

1. Water your plants more often - It is never advisable to water your plants post sunset. The rest of the day just check if the medium is dry and if it is, water again. Now that's easy if growing orchids is all you do. If not, try our the other ones...
2. Humidity tray - A tray of water placed under the plant is what a humidity tray is. It lets the water evaporate and creates localized humidity for the plant. The only thing to watch out for is that the roots or the medium is not sitting in the water. We found the easiest humidity tray was an ice tray as the plant sat on the ridge while there was enough of water in the tray.
3. Move your plant to a cooler spot - With indoor plants like Phals, one of the best other things to do is to move the plant to a cooler location. Check your plants few times a day and remember that the idea is that the potting medium should be wet for at least 60- 70% of the day.
4. Give your plant more shade - For dendrobiums which get too much sun light (especially between 11 am - 4 pm), just move the guy to a different spot where they get less sunlight.
5. Repot the orchid - This is something we will cover in the blogs to come but overall if your medium is not retaining enough water, add more medium (coco chips or sphagnum moss) to augment the water retention. This though needs to be done with caution as there is a whole list of precautions to take when repotting an orchid.

After making these small adjustments, we had a closer look at our plants... Lo and behold, the plants were all sprouting new shoots, some spikes and all of them had regained strength. When they are growing, feed them a balanced fertilizer regularly (orange for TUOB customers).

Even we did get caught a bit off guard this year the temperatures in Bangalore surged to almost 35 C in Bangalore but then we got in to action, made some changes quickly and our plants were back doing what they do best... Growing... Which most definitely means a very colourful blooming summer ahead.

See some of our plants growing this spring

A young shoot emerges from the base... sign of a healthy plant...

A young shoot grows new roots...

Try our tips and do let us know how your plant springs back to life and grows this spring which of course means a very colourful summer full of new blooms.

New roots for new shoots... notice the green tips? The plant stores water in them to help grow the new shoot
For those who haven't yet tried growing an orchid, its never too late to fall in love. Visit or visit us at to buy your first orchid today.

You can also write to us at for further details.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Microenvironment... How to make your orchids feel at home...

So we fell in love with orchids and then like every other love story, started the difficult part of our relationship... Adjusting with each other :-) ...

Armed with very little know how given by our retailer, we decided to dig deep to find out how we can keep our darling Dendrobium happy. From various sources on the internet (which are many and even contradicting), we came to believe that the Dendrobium actually needed sunlight and so we it placed in our balcony. It was peak of summer, the sun was scorching and we watered the plant well in the morning. Yet, we found the plant seemed to be drying out. We weren't sure if it was about the sun or the watering. What also bothered us was that we knew they needed humidity and Bangalore was a dry city especially in peak summer. We were disheartened when we also recollected that orchids grew in forests which normally had a lot of humidity.

Then we learnt a new word which changed the way we grew our orchids and the word was microenviornment.

Its as simple as it sounds but just in case you are wondering what that is, let me explain... Imagine two little orchids, discussing the weather and one of them lives alone on the terrace of your house and the other lives along with other plants in your eastern balcony. The guy on the terrace gets the brunt of the afternoon sun and says its scorching and the other orchid enjoys the early morning sun and a gentle afternoon breeze. So to put it in a nutshell, it is the environment that a little plant feels around it. Still ambiguous? Here are the primary factors that make up the microenvironment for any orchid plant:

  1. Humidity (water in the air)
  2. Light
  3. Air circulation
  4. Temperature
The next question is how can we manage the microenvironment to meet the orchid's needs? It starts with the steps mentioned in our earlier blog. Once you know your orchid, understand its needs and observe it, you just need to make minor adjustments to keep your love happy.

Coming back to our first plant in summer, we realised it needed humidity but how? Keeping the roots wet is the biggest life threat to an orchid as it starts to rot or gets affected by fungus. Then we heard of humidifiers which were used by people who had a large orchid collection which also did not suit our requirement. Finally, we came upon a very simple plan... Place an ice tray with water under the orchid (without water touching the roots) and let the water evaporate in the sun thus creating artificial humidity in a dry Bangalore. It worked like a miracle... Our plant came alive within a few days, grew a new shoot and the existing flowers on the spike lasted for very long time. Microenvironments can be altered by changing the placement of the plant, changing or adjusting the potting media etc. Keep reading our blogs to know more about potting media, lighting etc.
A happy dendrobium in a favourable microenvironment will signs of growth like new shoots

A tolumnia mounted on wood is also suitable for this little orchid... Look at the growth!!!

The success with our first plant, made us think of buying the next orchid plant... One is never enough. Is it? The story of our second plant is what made us start The Urban Orchid Boutique...For more, wait for our next blog...

Meanwhile, another small but very important tip for growing orchids is that they are amazing companion plants. In other words, they like to be grown along with other plants or like they grow in nature (most of them), on a tree. More about this in the blogs to come... 

So until the next time, if you have an unhappy orchid, experiment with its microenvironment and do share your success story with us. For those who haven't yet tried growing an orchid, its never too late to fall in love. Visit to buy your first orchid today.

You can also write to us at for further details.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Love at first sight...

We had gone to a fair and in one corner we saw a stall which was selling some amazing looking orchid flowers. On closer inspection, we realized that it was not just the flowers  but the plants and it was love at first sight for us. 

Our first orchid... A beautiful baby pink dendrobium...
I sill remember the plant that we chose had a few flowers and few buds. We had asked the people who sold us the plant and they said it doesn't need any direct sunlight and should do extremely well with watering regularly. We were of course very skeptical that this plant in a small pot with some roots sticking out of coconut husk was going to turn out to have the "nursery syndrome" as someone called it (where you buy a beautiful blooming plant from the nursery and it withers away within a short time at home. That of course is due to the excessive use of DAP in soil based plants to make them bloom prematurely).

To our dismay, the smaller buds started drying up first, and slowly none of the buds remained. What really amazed us was that the opened blooms continued to do well which gave us some hope. Then I remembered that the guy in the stall told us that the orchid's name started with D and then we googled it till we were sure it was called a Dendrobium. We learnt all about the plant, what it liked and it needed to grow. We started experimenting with the light, water etc. and slowly started seeing our plant doing better.

From there on, with some more interesting twists and turns, our love for orchids became a passion and with a few years of hobby growing experimenting under our belt, we decided to spread the love for potted orchid plants and launched The Urban Orchid Boutique.

We learnt some basic things that can make orchid growing a better experience:
  1. Know your plant - Always know what genus/hybrid you are buying.
  2. Understand its needs - This is basically humidity (water), lighting and nutrients (Temperature also for some genus).
  3. Observe your plant - This perhaps is the most important thing as only then will you be able to get the plant adapted to the new enviorns of your home.
  4. If it ain't broke, don't fix it - If the plant is doing well, it is best to leave it alone and not move it around
  5. A place to grow and a place to show - Grow an orchid in a place that suits it best and when it is blooming, make it your centerpiece and show it off as much as you want.
  6. Experiment and be Patient - It is very important to experiment with your plant when it is not doing well. In general though, remember that if its not good, signs would be visible immediately but good things are seen relatively slower. So Patience is very important while growing orchid plants.
Our first dendrobium today...
The Crown Jewel of our collection
Keep the above points in mind and your orchid growing experience will be very rewarding and orchids will grow not only in your home but are sure to take root in your heart as well...

Today, our first orchid plant has grown huge and has given out 4 spikes simultaneously...

At the Urban Orchid Boutique we provide a plant profile which helps in you in understanding the plant and its needs and grow it easily...
We are extremely passionate about or orchids and continue to share our experiences and learn. Please email us at for any queries.