What is Aerangis?

Kay Blynn
Kay Blynn
Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Aerangis, often referred to as Aergs in the nursery business, is a member of the Orchidaceae family. Like most orchids, the Aerangis is an epiphytic plant. Originating in the tropical regions of Africa and Madagascar, the Aerangis is also considered one of the hardiest and easiest orchids to grow indoors.

Orchids produce leaves are usually dark green and somewhat stiff. They produce stems that are eight to 18 inches (about 0.2-0.5 m) long and produce flowers. The flowers of an Aerangis are typically white or cream colored and have five petals in a star burst formation. In recent years some Aergs have become available with yellow flowers as well.

Like most orchids, Aerangis is an epiphytic plant. This kind of plant grows on another plant, or occasionally on buildings, utility wires, or other surfaces. Epiphytic plants are generally referred to as air plants and include bromeliads, Staghorn ferns, some lichens, and mosses. The roots of an epiphytic plant only attach the plant to a surface of another plant.

Epiphytic plants, however, are not parasites and generally harmless to the plant they’re attached to. Epiphytic plants get their moisture from regular rainfall and humidity. Nutrients are delivered to the orchid through rainfall and organic matter which collects in the plant itself and decomposes over time.

Orchids such as Aerangis can be grown outside in tropical locations where temperatures average 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit (about 15-26 degrees Celsius). Freezing temperatures or frost will likely kill an orchid. Orchids grow naturally under trees and prefer shaded or mostly shaded locations.

When growing orchids as a houseplant, bright light from an east or west facing window is preferred. As a general rule, the amount of light an orchid prefers can be determined by the size and shape of its leaves. Orchids which have slender leaves will need the most light. Orchids with leaves that are broader can thrive with less light.

In general, its best to water an orchid heavily and then let it dry out before watering again. Clay pots are typically better for growing orchids than plastic posts. They are also more porous to allow for better air flow to the roots. An important factor in growing orchids, indoors or outdoors, is sufficient humidity or moisture in the air. Because orchids originate from tropical locations, they require high humidity to thrive. If attempting to grow orchids outdoors, a sprinkler or misting system can be used to keep the air moist.

Indoors, an orchid pot can be placed in a tray of wet gravel. The water in the tray will evaporate naturally, adding moisture to the surrounding air. Orchids can also be misted on a regular basis with a spray bottle.

There is a great deal of debate about how easy — or difficult — orchids are to grow. A wide variety of orchid varieties are available at nurseries and garden centers, each with different growing requirements. In addition, many products are on the market for growing orchids successfully, including specialized pots, potting soil, and fertilizer.

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