Meet Mark Cullen

Canada's best known gardening personality, Mark Cullen believes that Canadians of all ages need to play more - preferably in the dirt. A best-selling author with over 400,000 books in print, Mark reaches over one million Canadians every week through various media outlets. He is Home Hardware's horticultural spokesperson and regularly contributes to various magazines, gardening shows and newsletters. With a familiar style that people can relate to, he delivers a message that is compelling, fun, informative and inspirational - all based on his organic approach to gardening. In his spare time Mark enjoys driving his Ford Model A - and of course he loves to garden.

Orchids Made Easy

~ January 12, 2012

In spite of their new level of popularity, home grown orchids are still misunderstood. Chief among these ‘misunderstandings’ is that orchids are hard to grow. This is not necessarily true.

The orchid family is the largest in the plant world. Most people who are just starting out with orchids are looking for a long-flowering, easy to care for plant with exotic flowers and a general habit of reblooming without much fuss.

There are orchids that are so easy to care for that I put them in the same category as African violets: only orchids are easier.
If you enjoy ignoring your indoor plants, allowing them to go dry for long periods of time, I have the answer for you. And many of your friends are going to think that your brown thumb morphed over the New Year into the greenest of green!

I will classify the popular orchids according to the amount of care that they require and their desired location in your home:


This is the most popular of orchids for the home gardener. They are epiphytic, which means that they grow in trees and rocks in the tropics. When the bloom fades, cut the stems below the last flower, just above a node (where the leaf meets the stem). In most cases a new stem will develop and it will re-flower.
Location: warm home, low light conditions. If space is limited, look for a miniature Phalaenopsis.

Light: no direct sun. Enjoys a north facing (low light) window but prefers an east facing one.

Temperature: low of 18°C and high of 29°C.

Humidity: stand in a tray of pebbles among a group of like-minded plants. Mist leaves with tepid water often including the roots that are exposed.

ReBlooming: 3 weeks of cooler (18 °C) temperatures will ‘kick start’ this orchid into reblooming.


These are ‘ground dwellers’ (terrestrial) orchids that grow naturally in tropical and subtropical Asia. They are easily identifiable by their pouch-like lip, much like our native ‘Lady Slipper’ orchids. This is a spectacular species with gorgeous single blooms born on a stem ranging in colour from white, green, brown, claret, red, yellow and pink.

Location: defused light to direct sunshine. Versatile.

Temperature: low of 13°C this time of year to 24°C in summer. Generally they like it cool. Green-leaved hybrids are the toughest of them all vs. varieties with mottled leaves.

Special needs: humidity using a pebble tray increases humidity. Misting can cause mould.


Cambria orchids provide a spray of bloom on a single stem that is quite impressive.

Location: diffused light, north or west facing window is ideal most of the year. North is favoured during the intense summer time.

Temperature: low of 13°C and high in the summer of 24°C.

Humidity: group with other plants and use a pebble tray with water in the bottom of it to raise humidity, especially in late spring and summer. In winter reduce temperatures and watering frequency. Fertilize with half strength Schultz orchid fertilizer.