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What's the best 'starter' orchid?

This is a discussion on What's the best 'starter' orchid? within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; Hey you guys, I wonder if anyone could help suggest a good first orchid for ...

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  1. #1
    Kellygreen's Avatar
    Kellygreen is offline Junior Member
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    Default What's the best 'starter' orchid?

    Hey you guys,

    I wonder if anyone could help suggest a good first orchid for my friend? She has never grown one before but is thinking she might like to try. Is there anything that comes to mind that is easy and smallish (she'll have fluorescent lights) and rewarding?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts ... I would so love it if my friend could get into orchids too - then I could quit torturing my S.O. with endless plant facts and stories.

    Kelly

    PS Is it evil to intentionally try to suck someone else into the obsession?

  2. #2
    Diane's Avatar
    Diane is offline Can't Re-Member
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    It's all a matter of opinion, mine is that a nice phal is the best starter plant. Make sure they get one in spike/bloom so they stay enthused for a while. Then make sure they don't overwater it.

  3. #3
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    clintdawley is offline Wrapped in metal..wrapped in ivy...
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    Default Paph. Maudiae

    I think the Maudiae type mottled leaf plants are very attractive out of bloom and are easier to grow than Phals...just my opinion.

    A lot of beginners kill a few Phals before they get the watering right.

    Clint
    (who killed his first three phals about ten years ago...hasn't lost a Phal since.)

  4. #4
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    Brutal_Dreamer is offline Dreaming with my eyes open...
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    Hi Kelly,

    No, it is not evil to want to share your passion for orchids with your friend! I think it is a real plus to share this obsession with a friend! JMHO

    I think the easiest orchid for a beginner would have to be a really cheap phal or an oncidium. Heck, even a cheap paph like Clint suggests is a great starter plant. The main thing is get her one that is in bud and bloom. That way she can experience the joy of the everlasting blooms orchids provide. Be sure to give her the web address of the forum here too so we can help her keep her new plant alive and blooming!

    Cheers,
    BD

  5. #5
    wetfeet101b's Avatar
    wetfeet101b is offline It's not dead! It's just permanently dormant.
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    If she wants an orchid that simply refuses to die, try a standard cymbidium.
    The climate might also be just right in Colorado for consistent blooms for cymbidiums. And no need for artificial lights, just put them outside on the porch or by the brightest window
    However, space may be an issue - these things grow BIG.

  6. #6
    Kellygreen's Avatar
    Kellygreen is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks everyone - all great suggestions & I really appreciate the help.

    I think I can take her to a nursery that has all of those options, and she can see what appeals to her most. (Of course what'll happen then is that I come home with a phal, a paph, an oncidium, and a cymbidium for MYSELF also!)

    BTW Wetfeet, I have never tried a cymbidium - but you would say those are on the 'easy' side? I don't know why but I always assumed those were finicky.

  7. #7
    smartie2000's Avatar
    smartie2000 is offline Senior Member
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    Cymbidiums are hard for me except for the chinese types. The chinese types and their hybrids are smaller and less stubborn. They have lower light requirements and don't need as large of a day/night temperature differentiation. I think one is in low spike It's a cym ensifolium.
    I just can't rebloom my standard sized one...if I had my neighbours sunroom or something then I probably could bloom it fine.
    However I do agree that it seems impossible to kill, it sits outside right now.

    I suggest phal, they are simply the best beginner plant (just repot it in bark because sphag is difficult to work with for beginners). Most of us started with phals too.

    Paph maudiaes are also a good one for a first paph, and they can be a foliage plant too.

  8. #8
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    I can second the hard to kill part on the cymbidiums. My very first was a cymbidium and it put up with lots of overkill on sun and watering. Still alive now 4+ years later.

    HOWEVER, I have also not been able to get it to bloom again yet. Partially probably because of the almost killing it part. Maybe one of these days though.

    I vote for a phal - my first re-bloomer. Just give her some tips on not overwatering, etc. My paph is also very forgiving.

    Bad luck with oncidiums personally.

  9. #9
    Kellygreen's Avatar
    Kellygreen is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks so much you guys for all the good advice! I always love hear what other people find 'impossible to kill' - now I have a new wish list for myself as well as my friend!

  10. #10
    Shaydra is offline Senior Member
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    A phal would be cheaper and ... well, the blooms last for a while, too, so she'll get that aspect from it, too. However, as everyone else has said, if you're getting it from a box store, it might be a good idea to get rid of the sphag right off the bat. Or, at least most of it.

    It seems sphag + beginner = plant death.

    Paphs are definitely different on the foliage aspect, too. So even if she gets frustrated at not reblooming it, at least the foliage is neat.

    I started with cattleyas and did pretty well for a few years... till I neglected them and got off-schedule with the watering and put them too close to a south-facing window, then tried to make up for it by over-watering ... One did actually survive that with little or no damage, surprisingly. Maybe it's just that Bc-types are more hardy than most/some Slc-types? (And now I'm learning how to re-grow roots on an Slc.)

    And, if you're going to a GH, you can always have them recommend easy growers. That's how I got my first catt. I asked her what would grow best in my apartment and she recommended a few types.. but the blooms on the catts were definitely more appealing for me. And they're more likely to have a scent, too! (Another plus.)

    Thats just my $0.02.

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