How to Take Care of Potted Orchids
Why It's Important to Take Good Care of Orchids
Buying or planting flowers is very easy, but as you may know, keeping them alive is an entirely different story. I have heard stories of people buying beautiful and expensive orchids to decorate their homes only to lose patience and end up throwing their wilting flowers in the bins a couple of weeks later. It's a pity because orchids cost upwards of €10-20 each, depending on the type.
I can't judge too much, though, because several years ago, I went through the same experience. I bought my first Phalaenopsis orchid at a local flower shop. It was very expensive but its beauty compelled me to buy it—even though I knew I didn't have a green thumb. Some of my window plants were dying except for a durable, green lily. I placed the orchid on our windowsill so that I could look at it every day—I was enamored by its simple yet intricate beauty. Sadly, the flowers started to droop a few weeks after. How did this happen? All I had to do was water it, right?
There is a lot that goes into caring for potted orchids. I was fortunate enough to have a sister that happened to work at a Dutch orchid company. She was able to help me revive my orchids and keep them alive! I'll share her suggestions below.
Tips on Caring for Potted Orchids
- Buy orchids with lots of new blooms. You can enjoy the flowers for longer than you think.
- Always read the instruction that come with the orchids, or ask the saleslady how to take care of them.
- Place your potted orchids in a bright area but not in direct sunlight. You can use them as a centerpiece for your table as long as the room is bright enough for the orchids to have sunlight.
- Each kind of orchid has different watering requirements, especially during the summer and winter, but here are some general guidelines:
- Water once a week by removing them from their pots and shower them with room-temperature water (at least 16° C) in the sink or bathtub.
- Let the water drain until there are only a few occasional drips, and put them back in their fancy pots. Dry the leaves of the orchids using a cloth or a tissue paper.
- In the summer, water the orchids twice a week or when the bark appears dry.
- In the winter, avoid placing the orchids near heaters, air vents, or any place where a draft of cold air can creep in. Extreme temperatures can dry them out and kill them.
- Fertilize the orchids once a month with a special orchids fertilizer.
- Play relaxing music in the room where the orchids are living. They love music, and you'll realize this when you see that your orchids always have new blossoms.
- Talk to your orchids nicely, and ask them to give you more flowers. You´ll be surprised. They´ll give you what you have asked for—well, at least in my own experience.
After I brought my orchid back to life, I told my sister the good news. I now had enough confidence to buy more orchids. I even started collecting various kinds of orchids—from Vanda (Singapore) to Cattleya—but it was mostly different colors and sizes of Phalaenopsis because they are the easiest to take care of.
When there was an "open day" at my sister´s work, I went with her to see their exhibition of orchids. Not only were they showcasing their inventory, but they were selling at wholesale prices—without the mark-ups you get at the shops!
My obsession with orchids has led me to my current collection of 16 potted orchids—well presented on my four windowsills. Their presence also reached my neighbors. Passersby would in front of our living room window (we live on the ground floor) to appreciate their aesthetic. Some of them even copied what I did, decorating their own windows with orchids. I was very proud of myself.
I Had to Give Away My Orchids
I enjoyed my orchids for only a few months before I had to give them away to my friends and relatives. We were moving to Ireland, and I knew that they would not survive in the cold climate. It broke my heart to have to part ways with my orchid collection, and I hoped their new owners would be able to take care of them. Unfortunately, when I visited a year later, I found that my orchids had either died or didn't blossom anymore. The photos above—except for the one of my collection—were taken before 2008 and are my only remembrances of them.
Taking care of orchids takes a lot of attention and patience. Consider this and the tips listed above before you make a commitment to owning your own orchid!
Thank you for reading my article. Please feel free to leave a comment.
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© 2012 Thelma Alberts