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An Orchid For Beginners

by Shelly Nold

THE CYMBIDIUM ORCHID has often been considered a beginners’ orchid because it is so easy to grow, but in fact, orchids in general are easy to grow. You just need to know which varieties you have and what environment and care practices they like.

THE MOST EASILY FOUND VARIETIES of orchids in this area are Phalaenopsis, Oncidium, and Cymbidium. The Cymbidium, above, is the largest of the three; it can reach 3 feet in height with its flower spike. The foliage is strap- or grass-like, light to medium green; each leaf is 12 to 16 inches long. It is not a typical tabletop orchid and is more suitable for display on the floor or in a plant stand. Miniature varieties exist but can be hard to find.

GROW CYMBIDIUM INDOORS in the winter in bright indirect light, and grow it outdoors from spring to fall in the shade. Bring it indoors when the night temperature drops to 50 degrees, usually around mid-October. Cymbidium and many other orchids prefer a drop in air temperature of 10 to 15 degrees from day to night.

CYMBIDIUM ORCHIDS PREFER moist soil, especially in the summer when it is hot. They have a pseudobulb, which is found at the base of the foliage; it stores water and nutrients for the plant. Cymbidium can flower on an erect or pendulous stem, depending on variety. The flowers can last from six weeks to several months. Typically, they bloom in the winter, but modern Cymbidium hybrids can bloom throughout the year.

Shelly nold is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.


ASK THE GARDENER

by Angie McManus

I want to start a vegetable garden this year, and I will be using raised beds as I live in the city on a small lot. How deep should my beds be? What mix of soil should I use?

Gardening in raised beds is ideal for your situation. Before constructing your beds, keep in mind that vegetables require full sun, so make sure you have a space that will receive a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight.

The dimensions of your raised beds are going to be up to you and the space limitations you have. The most important dimension is the depth; it should be at least a foot deep. This allows enough space for roots to spread and continue into the earth if needed.

One of the most important advantages of growing in raised beds is that we can create the ideal soil mixture for our plants. A mixture of quality topsoil, compost, and manure provides plants with the optimal environment in which to grow. Soil structure, fertility, drainage, and pH are all important aspects in creating this environment.

You will want to till up the base soil and then add topsoil, compost, and decomposed manure. Different layers of soil can create barriers, so make sure to mix it all together.


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