The most common one you will find is the Phalaenopsis, or moth orchid. This is the big, showy-blossomed flower you see most commonly at box stores and grocery stores.
Three other common orchids are Dendrobium, Oncidium and Cattleya (the ones you see in corsages). Most orchids like medium light and watering every other week or so. Some say that you can use an ice cube to water the plants, which is technically true, but it is just as easy to hit them with a splash of water.
The media you pot an orchid in depends on the type, but most prefer very loose growing conditions -- most tropical orchids grow on trees. Common media have lots of sphagnum moss and bark in them. It is even possible to recycle wine corks as part of the media.
Houseplants you can eat
Look through many garden catalogs and you'll see several tropical plants that make great houseplants. Citrus trees like lemons, limes and mandarin oranges are common catalog fare.
You can grow something a little more stimulating if you find a nice coffee tree for your collection. But you can also find some things at the grocery store to add to your houseplant collection for little cost.
A common trick is to grow a pineapple by cutting the top from a fresh pineapple, removing the base and bottom few leaves, and sitting the top in soil. The plant, a member of the bromeliad family, will bloom and produce a pineapple if kept happy and healthy (and no, pineapples do not grow on trees).
You can also grow your own ginger as a tropical houseplant -- a great way to have some on hand for your favorite Asian dish. Simply plant the fresh tubers you buy from the produce aisle in potting mix and treat like any other houseplant. It will grow into a tall, spiky plant that, if you are very lucky, will bloom with vibrant yellow flowers.
Fruit tree fundraiser
The Putnam County Extension Master Gardeners are taking up orders for fruit trees as a fundraiser for their program. They are collecting bulk orders for fruit trees from Adams County Nursery in Pennsylvania.
Prices could range from $12 to $18, depending on the quantity ordered. A $3 donation per order will be taken for the Master Gardener program. Orders and payments are due Feb. 28.
You can check out the Adams County Nursery catalog at www.acnursery.com/acn_trees.php or visit the Putnam County Extension Office in the Putnam County Courthouse. To order or for information, contact the Putnam County Extension Office at 304-586-0217.
John Porter is the WVU Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources in Kanawha County. He may be reached at john.por...@mail.wvu.edu or at 304-720-9573. Twitter: @WVgardenguru.