Are Orchids Poisonous For Cats – Truth Or Myth?

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Are Orchids Poisonous For Cats

Are Orchids Poisonous For Cats

Orchids are not poisonous for Cats, and also this is valid for other pets. There is a lot of misinformation going around the internet with ludicrous claims that the Orchids can kill Cats or even Dogs, rest assured, your pets are completely safe around the Orchids.

Now, lest’s see all about the Orchids.

Growing orchids has never been more popular. It is truly an international pastime, but, strangely, growing orchids is still considered by many to be difficult and expensive.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Modern propagation methods— often growing orchids in the laboratory from seed or multiplying the growing tip of a choice orchid in a nutrient medium (meristemming) that encourages the growth of many small plants have brought tropical orchids within the price range of many people throughout the world.

While some orchids are tough to grow, with very exacting demands for their culture, most orchids that can be bought in nurseries, supermarkets, and florists are easy to grow, providing that the instructions on the label are followed.

Furthermore, orchids are such good value. Many flowers for extended periods— six months’ continuous flowering from a moth orchid is not uncommon.

Orchids are rewarding subjects for both the amateur and the serious grower. Whether you grow them on the kitchen windowsill, bathroom, garden, or greenhouse, some orchids will suit your purpose.

Growers often specialize early on— many stay with a particular group of orchids, such as slipper orchids or Masdevallias. In contrast, others adopt a more catholic approach and fill their greenhouse with a kaleidoscope of color.

With increasing experience, a grower can graduate from the easy moth, jewel, or slipper orchids to the more demanding Dracula, Odontoglossum, or terrestrial orchids. There will be something in the family to satisfy everyone’s taste.

If you like large, showy flowers, try Cattleya or Laelia; if you like miniature orchids, then Pleurothallis or Bulbophyllum might suit you better.

If you lack a greenhouse, there are plenty of orchids that thrive outdoors and will brighten your garden throughout the spring and summer months.

There are also orchids to suit everyone’s pocket: orchid prices have never been so low.

In the 19th century, orchid growing was a rich man’s hobby— now you can feel just like a Victorian millionaire on a mere fraction of the outlay!

GROWTH HABITS

Within the bewildering complexity of forms presented by the orchid family, the growth habits of the plants may be generally classified into two distinct categories:

sympodial growth and monopodial growth

Sympodial Growth

Most orchids have what is called a sympodial form of growth. The plant’s main stem grows horizontally along the surface of the support, with branches growing laterally from this main stem from where it produces its flowers.

As flowers die, the main stem produces new leads, and new growth sprouts from or next to the previous one.

Most sympodial orchids produce thick bulb-like stems called pseudobulbs (from the Greek word pseuds meaning “false”), so named because they resemble flower bulbs which, in fact, they are not; true flower bulbs are a complete plant in a package.

A tulip bulb, for example, contains a tulip in miniature, along with all the nutrients the plant requires to sprout, grow, and flower in the appropriate season.

Pseudobulbs, which store moisture and nutrients for the plant, grow along a fibrous part of the rootstock called the rhizome.

In some species, such as Coelogyne or Bulbophyllum, where the pseudobulbs are produced at intervals of approximately 1½– 2 in. (3– 4 cm), the rhizome is visible.

In other species, such as Cymbidiums, the rhizome acts as a concise thread, connecting pseudobulbs that appear to grow in bunches.

Pseudobulbs come in many sizes and shapes. Dendrobium pseudobulbs can be long and thin or short and squat and may grow up to 6 ft. (2 m) in length, whereas Cymbidium pseudobulbs are mostly egg-shaped and may grow from a few millimeters to over 6 in. (15 cm).

Leaves, flower stems, and flowers all develop out of the new growth from the pseudobulb. The new growth will start from the bulb, fresh leaves will emerge, and a new bulb will form along the rhizome.

After supporting the new growth, the existing pseudobulb, now nearly depleted, generally goes dormant and becomes a back bulb.

In this phase, the new growth will exploit the last energy resources stored in the back bulb until, when these are exhausted, the back bulb shrivels and dies.

A few sympodial orchids do not produce pseudobulbs. Many species of Paphiopedilum that grow in China, India, and Southeast Asia, where moisture levels are high, grow stout shoots from the base of the plant.

As the leaves and shoots die, new growth appears from the existing base. Their thick fleshy roots hold whatever moisture reserves they require.

Monopodial growth 

In contrast to sympodial orchids that grow horizontally, monopodial orchids grow vertically, with some species reaching quite remarkable heights (many species of Vanda, for instance, can grow to several meters tall).

Flower stems emerge alternately along a main stem between the leaves. The leaves, which also grow alternately on either side of the stem, may be narrow or broad, widely spaced or compact.

Despite some rather dramatic variations in form, the primary growth feature of monopodial orchids is that new growth develops out of the old-growth.

New shoots can grow from the end bud of an old shoot, and leaves and flowers are then produced along the new stem.

FEATURES OF MONOPODIAL GROWTH 

Monopodial orchids have no pseudobulbs but tend to have succulent leaves in which they store nutrients and moisture.

HABITAT 

Although a few orchid species survive in bogs, marshes, and similar damp conditions, orchids are primarily classified according to their preference for growing on trees, in the ground, on rocks, or piles of organic decaying material.

They are divided into three main groups: epiphytes, terrestrials, and lithophytes. In certain circumstances, there is crossover among the growing habits of these groups.

An epiphytic orchid that falls from a tree may grow in the ground below if the conditions are suitable.

Likewise, a terrestrial orchid growing near the base of a tree may grow on the trunk and adopt an epiphytic lifestyle.

Either will grow on rocks if the opportunity arises and sufficient moisture and nutrients to support growth.

Seed Formation and Germination

Seeds form in a capsule behind the flower after pollination has taken place. A common feature among most orchid species is their prolific seed production.

The average orchid seed capsule contains multitudes of seeds that appear as very fine, pale yellow dust.

Depending on the species, it may take a few weeks to almost a year for the seed to mature. (Disas take as little as six weeks, whereas Cymbidiums and Cattleyas need up to 12 months to mature.)

As most orchid species are epiphytic, a heavy seed would fall from the tree and land on the ground, which is not where epiphytes prefer to grow.

However, a small, delicate seed is easily airborne and stands a better chance of landing in a hospitable spot, perhaps in the crook of a branch among leafy debris or in a moss-covered crevice on the trunk.

Terrestrial orchids have specific soil requirements, but dispersing a copious quantity of seed increases their chances of propagation, particularly considering the particular conditions required for successful germination.

For the huge number of seeds produced and dispersed, only a small percentage actually land in a suitable growing environment.

Orchid seeds lack endosperm, a substance found in the seeds of plants such as peas and beans, which provides the energy required for germination. Unless germinated under

laboratory conditions, orchid seeds require a fungus to germinate. A mycorrhiza is a natural fungus, often a common soil or epiphytic fungus.

Only the seeds dispersed near enough to the mycorrhizal fungus will germinate (without it, the seed would not germinate).

Initially, the fungus invades the seed as a parasite in search of sustenance but, before it becomes destructive, the embryo inhibits the activity of the potentially destructive invader.

Once contained, the fungus provides the embryo with the nutrients required to germinate and mature (a process that may take three to five years).

So begins a symbiotic relationship between fungus and orchid that continues for the life of the plant.

The fungus lives in the orchid roots, assisting in the absorption and processing of moisture and nutrients.

Soon after landing in a suitable growing environment, some evidence of germination will appear.

Months later, the plant produces a single identifiable leaf, with leaves and roots becoming visible as it develops into a recognizable plant.

CARING FOR ORCHIDS

As you consider the type, color, size, and fragrance of the orchids you would like to have in your home, take some time to analyze the growing conditions your environment offers briefly.

Orchids grow best in climates that approximate their natural habitat. So, for instance, if you live in the tropics, with no air-conditioning in your home, it will be tricky to grow an orchid that enjoys a cooler climate, such as an Odontoglossum.

Extraordinary efforts may keep the plant alive, but it will not thrive. It is better to be practical and enjoy success with an orchid suited to your local climate and home environment.

When making a decision, the main factors you need to evaluate are temperature, light, ventilation, heating, and humidity.

BUYING ORCHIDS

Orchids are widely available from retail plant outlets, garden centers, supermarkets, specialist nurseries, or orchid society meetings and shows.

All have their advantages and disadvantages, and at least one of these options is sure to be available in your area.

Where you choose to buy may depend on what you are looking for. Popular orchids come from commercially tested stock with long-lasting properties and are resistant to most pests and diseases.

Commercial growers can cultivate the plants easily and mass-produce them in large enough quantities to sell at an affordable price.

Affordability is the main advantage of purchasing from a non-specialist outlet.

When buying a plant from a general retailer, inspect it closely to ensure that it is healthy and blemish-free.

Ask if the plant has recently come into the store (it may have arrived in good condition but been improperly handled throughout its shelf-life).

Extract as much information as you can from the sales assistant, but bear in mind that you may not get much, if any, specific orchid information.

Garden centers may have a specialist who visits on a particular day to offer advice or give demonstrations on potting or dividing.

Orchids at general retail outlets will most likely tag identifying the type of plant but no specific name. You will have to do some independent research for more information.

There is no problem buying an “unnamed” orchid unless you intend to enter it in a competition.

Almost any type of orchid is available from the thousands of vendors advertising on the Internet.

This is not a recommended option for new buyers, and even experienced buyers need to be cautious about selecting a reputable source.

CARE AND MAINTENANCE OVERVIEW

Orchids are not as difficult to care for and maintain as many people think. If you follow some simple guidelines, with continuity and persistence, your orchids will give you months, and even years, of pleasure.

Watering

Water requirements vary according to temperature, seasonal conditions, and the growth cycle of the plant. Orchids take up more water during their active growing season when they expend additional energy to support new growth.

A few guidelines will help you determine the correct watering routine.

Keep the plant moist but not soggy. With experience, you can check the moisture level by judging the weight of the pot.

Under average conditions, plants need watering once or twice a week. If in doubt, mist the plant rather than water it, and err on the side of underwatering, as nothing will kill a plant faster than drowning its roots in a waterlogged pot.

Misting provides enough moisture and keeps the leaves free of dust and unwanted pests.

Take the plant to a sink and water it from the top, allowing the water to run completely through the potting medium to flush out salts and excessive mineral deposits or accumulations.

This is also a good time to mist the plant. If a plant has been neglected and has become excessively dry, keep misting it regularly, but don’t over-water it.

Be sensitive to seasonal changes, such as scorching summer temperatures, which will accelerate water evaporation.

Central heating creates an arid environment, so you may need to water indoor plants more frequently in winter.

Regular misting is necessary to avoid dehydration, particularly in warm climates or in centrally heated rooms.

When necessary, foliar fertilizer can be added to the water but not exceed the recommended dosage.

Misting

All orchids enjoy a daily morning misting, using a fine, light spray to moisten the leaves.

Mist plants in the morning allow the water to evaporate throughout the warmth of the day.

Water evaporates more slowly in cool nighttime temperatures, and excess moisture can damage or cause bacterial rot.

Humidity

Maintain humidity around the plant by placing the pot on a tray of wet pebbles or clay pellets.

These should be kept damp, but the pot should not rest in a pool of water.

Light

Provide a minimum of six hours per day of filtered light. Orchids will tolerate inadequate light but may not produce flowers. Leaf color will tell you if you’ve got the lighting right.

Orchid leaves should be pale to medium green. If they begin to turn very dark green, it indicates that the plant needs more light or is being overfed with nitrogen.

If they begin to bleach out and turn pale, the plant is getting too much light and should be relocated to prevent scorching.

Feeding

Although many orchids are light feeders, some nutrients are required to keep them in good health, particularly during the growing period, so feed lightly but regularly.

Experienced growers sometimes mix a combination of nutrients specifically for a particular plant, but simple, low-maintenance feeding schemes work well for most orchids.

Feed once a week with a good quality 30-10-10 nitrogenous fertilizer (diluted to half the recommended dosage in spring).

Throughout summer, use a general-purpose feed (e.g., 18-18-18 or similar ratio fertilizer).

A high potash formula (10-30-20), diluted to half the recommended strength, can be used as a bloom booster, as it contains more potassium and less nitrogen, a combination that encourages flowering.

If you fertilize regularly, use weaker solutions of any appropriate fertilizer.

PESTS AND DISEASES

Whether an orchid collection is grown outdoors, in pots in your home, or a climatically controlled greenhouse, you will eventually be faced with the problem of pests and diseases.

These unwelcome visitors spoil the appearance of plants by marking or disfiguring the leaves or impairing new growth.

It is always disappointing to find that the long-awaited buds of a cherished orchid have been chewed by a foraging slug or the pollen removed by a hungry mouse.

Orchids suffer from much the same infestations of pests as most other plants and should be treated similarly.

Successfully controlling pests and diseases often lies in prevention rather than cure, so regularly check your plants for signs of pests, viruses, or diseases.

As a first step, purchase your orchids from a reputable nursery; carefully grown plants are usually resistant to fungal or bacterial diseases and more likely to be free of pests.

If possible, house newly purchased plants in a quarantine area, or at least away from your existing collection, until you are confident that the new plants are pest and disease-free.

Diseases and Viruses

Most orchid diseases come from prolonged exposure to improper growing conditions, such as excess cold, inadequate ventilation, or over-watering.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts to maintain a healthy growing environment, the disease will strike.

Plant diseases can be difficult to diagnose, but be on the lookout for problems and act swiftly to contain them.

Viruses are easily transmitted and can wipe out an entire collection if they are not dealt with swiftly and thoroughly.

Some viruses are fatal. In such cases, there is no option but to destroy the infected plant by burning it.

 

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