Orchid Love – by Brad Lau
Orchids need friends too!
Besides orchids many of us have other tropical or even dessert (but with less water) plants that grow well under the same or similar conditions.
The most popular are any of the air plants besides orchids. Tillandsia is a genus of about 650 species of perennial flowering plants in the family Bromeliaceae. Some can tolerate full sun but many like some shade or shelter from midday sun. They can hang from baskets or from wire along with your orchids but give them space to dry out between waterings. They do have flowers which vary in bright colors but only bloom once. Many mother plants produce keikis which can be removed and propagated.
Bromeliads are also good plants to share shade and catch water under orchids. They consist of over 3400 species native to the tropical Americas. Our most famous example is the Pineapple. They come in many different colors with many leaf patterns and sizes from very small to very large. They flower once and produce keikis. They benefit from well drained gravel or media. Careful not to allow them to root into soil or they can spread along the ground.
Anthurium is a genus of about 1000 species of the arum family, Araceae and is native to the Americas. Flowers are contained in dense spirals on the spadix which can be spike shaped. The spathe lies beneath the spadix is can vary in size, shape and color (the main attraction for new hybrids). They require shade and benefit from regular weak fertilizing. Growing under hanging orchids is a good location. They grow by seed or by cuttings and produce long lasting cut flowers. Good air flow is beneficial.
Container water gardens include large wide pots filled with water that are home to water lilies, lotus, or other plants. A small koi pond also can support plants. These provide moisture to the air and nearby orchids and raise humidity. Water plants usually benefit from more light up to full sun. They are easy care and benefit from regular fertilizer pellets and repotting as they outgrow their containers. Something to be careful about is if you do treat orchids with pesticides you must avoid allowing any to get into the water gardens which may harm any fish which control mosquitoes.
You can even consider your bushes and trees as companions to the orchids as they provide shade and places to hang baskets and mounted plants from. As long as the trees are pruned to allow some light and air to reach the orchids this can be a good home providing some shade.
To help with plant culture there are many Hawaii plant societies that meet regularly providing good speakers and advice. Only trouble is having enough time and energy to get to all the meetings which can fill up each week. The benefit is the variety of plants to enjoy growing.
Cactus and Succulent Society of Hawaii - Cactus and Succulent Society of Hawaii; Anthuriums - Anthuriums: How To Care For Anthurium Flowers Desert Rose - home.html Tillandsias - Tillandsia and What are Air Plants? — Hemleva Bromeliads - Hawaii Bromeliad SocietyContainer Water Gardens - Container Water Gardens