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Good to Grow
Photo by
John Davis
Some secrets to growing orchids:

Don't water too much, but don't forget to water. It's about balance.

Make sure they have good light — an east-facing or west-facing window is preferable. Use artificial light if necessary.

Create a humid environment by placing the pot on top of some pebbles in a water-filled tray.

Be patient. Though some orchids bloom frequently and for long periods, others bloom for only a few days. James DiCarlo has one orchid — a hybrid he picked up on a family trip to Hawaii seven years ago — that has only recently bloomed for the first time. "You have to be a horticulturist in general, where you don't need to see the flowers," he says. "You have to just like to see things grow. "

DiCarlo, a senior bioengineering major from Columbia, Maryland, has been growing orchids since he was in the sixth grade. (His first, an orange-brown-yellow Oncidium hybrid that he still has, came from Home Depot.) By high school, he had more than 100 plants.

These days, he keeps about 40 in his Homewood apartment. Why orchids? "There's a fascination associated with them," he says. "There are over 22,000 species and 100,000 hybrids. There's such diversity, and there's history, too. A lot of the great scientists, like Darwin, were into orchids."
— Catherine Pierre

Return to June 2009 Table of Contents

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