By Heidi Farmer – Many people get intimidated with orchids, but they grow so well in Hawaii, just water, and if you feel generous, you can feed it too. For the longest time I did not ever feed my orchids and they just kept blooming and blooming.
Several years ago when I purchased my house in Kihei, it came with a large pot with what seemed like a large overgrown, root bound orchid. It seemed there were several plants in the pot and one was always in bloom, giving me constant flowers. Finally, after a few years, my friend talked me into re-potting it.
To re-pot the plants we split them up and put them in several separate pots. Then, I decided it was time to learn how to take care of my plant, it had been so good to me, I thought I should repay the favor. That is when I joined the MOS. I learned that not all orchids are created equal.
Overtime, I would buy orchids and many did not do so well. I learned that Maui, and Hawaii in general, has quite a plethora of microclimates. When chatting with one friend of mine who lives upcountry in Maui Uplands, in the area of Makawao, she said just on her 1/2 acre lot she thinks she has several microclimates. Sometimes it will rain in the backyard but not the front, and with trade winds, sun, shade and elevation changes, she has a lot of options when trying to place the plants in the most favorable locations.
This beautiful Honohono orchid was a show stunner at the MOS orchid show; hanging from a basket it draped a waterfall of flowers over 3 feet long
Yes, here in Hawaii you get not just heat and cold, but also wind, sun, rain, humidity, salt, and elevation changes – many within very close proximity to each other. So one variety of orchid will do better for you than others, it just depends on the area you are in. Then you can focus on those.
I now have quite a variety of different orchids and all of them are doing much better. I decided to start feeding the orchids on occasion and that in itself was a big help. The growers will tell you to feed weekly or monthly, but I am lucky if I remember to feed them half that much and they still flower in abundance.
One of the biggest things I have learned is to be sure to water at least once a week, and more than just spraying moisture in the air. They actually want some water – just do not let the roots sit in water, they tend to rot, and that is something they definitely do not like.
Suggestions & Guidelines for Orchid Care in Hawaii
Let’s review the basic guidelines for taking care of an orchid in Hawaii:
- Find the right variety of orchid for the microclimate (area) you are in
- Place orchid(s) in the most favorable location on your property
- Be sure to water 1-2 times a week
- Feed orchid(s) once a week or once a month (optional)
- As your orchid(s) grows, be sure to re-pot
With those basics, you too can grow some orchids here in Maui.
Annual Maui Orchid Shows Hosted by Maui Orchid Society
The MOS usually has 4 shows a year:
- Three are held at the Maui Mall in Kahului around Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day – they normally run Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
- The 4th show is held at the annual Maui County Fair at the end of September, which runs from Thursday through Sunday
So, even though you may have missed this recent Easter show, be sure to pencil in the upcoming Mother’s Day show or the Maui County Fair show and sale. Honohono, Vanda, Cattleya, Miltonia, Phalaenopsis, Cymbidium, and Dendrobium were just some of the extensive variety at the show and sale.
If you do not live on Maui you can still buy an orchid and enjoy the flowers while you are here. They usually will last longer than cut flowers and you can pass the plant on to a neighbor when you have to leave paradise.
About Heidi Farmer, R(S)