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How to Take Care of Potted Orchids

Thelma Alberts is fond of gardening. She is a health-conscious person and is fond of making teas out of the flowers and leaves of plants.

Potted orchid care

Potted orchid care

The Importance of Taking 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.

My Healthy Orchids!

My Healthy Orchids!

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 instructions 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.
  • 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.

Tips for Watering Potted Orchids

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 showering 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.
My collection of orchids

My collection of orchids

Collecting Orchids

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 look at the front of our living room window (we live on the ground floor) to appreciate their aesthetic. Some of them even copied what I did and decorated 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!

My Dancing Lady Orchids blooming for the first time! This photo was taken on my balcony in the Philippines on May 13, 2013.

My Dancing Lady Orchids blooming for the first time! This photo was taken on my balcony in the Philippines on May 13, 2013.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Could I put four or five ice cubes on top of the soil to water my orchids?

Answer: I don't think putting ice cubes on top of the soil will do your orchids any good. Orchids don't like cold water, especially water below 16 degree Celsius.

Question: What do I do with the dried flowers and stalk of my potted orchid?

Answer: Get rid of them carefully from the plant. You can cut the brown and dead stalk carefully with the use of sharp scissors.

Question: My cousin gave me one post of orchid three years ago, but it hasn't flowered yet. Any ideas?

Answer: Maybe you can re-pot and give fertilizer to your orchid. You can buy an orchid fertilizer in your garden center.

Question: Should you repot the orchid or leave it alone?

Answer: Repot them if the soil is already old.

Question: Is the bathroom a good place to grow my orchid? Would this be too humid?

Answer: If your bathroom has a window and it is lighted, yes it is good. The orchids need light. As long as the room is not under 18 degrees Celsius, it is okay.

Question: Can you suggest the best potting medium?

Answer: I think the best potting medium of potted orchids is fir bark in combination with peat moss.

Question: After you cut the brown stalk off of a potted orchid, how long before it blooms again?

Answer: It takes weeks before it blooms again as what I have experienced.

Question: My orchid came with a tag that said to water it by placing 1 ice cube on it. Then I see here you recommend against ice cubes & that they don't like ice cold temps for anything. So, how much water & the "shoots" coming up out if the container - are they stems or roots. I need to transplant it & not sure what to do with them?

Answer: I only know that the water temperature for watering the orchids should not be below 16°Celcius and I followed it. My orchids are doing well.

I was really curious if I can put an ice cube in an orchids so, I have searched online if an ice cube can be put in an orchids. It seems that there was an experiment at Ohio State University and the University of Georgia regarding putting ice cubes on the orchids plant for an irrigation. It was stated that 3 cubes of ice can be use as an irrigation for orchids but only once a week. So, yes you can do it. For more information, please check online. Thanks for commenting.

Question: I just got an orchid for Mother´s Day 2020. It came in a drainless ceramic pot and wrapped around thre roots is a plastic covering, and the air roots are inside. Do I cut away the plastic before planting in a pot (w/drain)? I am praying I don´t kill this beautiful yellow orchid. Please any advice to help keep it alive?

Answer: Hi! Yes, cut the plastic around the orchids before repotting it in a pot with drainage. Please read the article above. Tips and advice are there. You can also learn from my answers to the comments.

Question: How do you know when orchid will bloom?

Answer: You will know it when a tiny blossom will come out of the orchids.

Question: This is my first orchid and I am noticing the green viney roots coming off of the bottom. Do you plant those in the soil or do you leave them out to the side?

Answer: I would leave it to the side but covered with orchids soil.

Question: Why are the stems turning brown?

Answer: The stems are turning brown because they are finished with blooming. The brown stem is the dead flower spike.

Question: Can I put my orchid on my patio which is enclosed but warm? I live in south Florida.

Answer: Yes, of course you can.

Question: When should I water my orchid?

Answer: You can water your orchids once a week in winter and twice a week in summer when the weather is warm and dry.

© 2012 Thelma Alberts


Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on March 31, 2020:

Hi Robert,

When your orchids has dropped all the flowers, you can trim it. Find a node under the lowest flower bloom. Cut the orchids just an inch above the lowest node. This will encourage to have its energy to bloom again. You can buy an orchids fertilizer in your flower supermarket or online. Thank you for dropping by.

Robert B. Glade on March 30, 2020:

My Orchid just dropped it's last flower.......

when do I trim the stock?????

Do I do anyhing to encourage a new stock to grow?????

I've got a new shoot that appears to be a stock but I'm not sure???

Also, can I buy Orchid food from you or on line?????

Thanks for your help!!!!!!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on July 23, 2018:

I know what you meant Patricia. My late mother had plenty of orchids in our Philippines home when she was still alive but when she died the orchids were forgotten. It was sad that when I went back home, I was upset seeing my mothers plants. I wrote a poem at that time here in HP, getting out my emotion regarding the orchids of my mother. Now, the orchids are well taken care of and my mothers garden is my countryside garden full of plants. Thanks for stopping by. Angels are on your way, too.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 22, 2018:

You are so right....they do need care and attention perhaps a bit more than many have the time or inclination to give. Sadly there were several beauties in one of the homes I go to care for weekly. Prior to the death of the matriarch of the family they were doing well. But at the time of her death they were neglected as so much happened to distract the family from their care. And now there are none. Angels headed your way this morning. ps

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on July 20, 2018:

You are doing it right Peggy. Orchids are indeed beautiful. Thanks for your stopping by. Have a great weekend.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 07, 2018:

We are currently taking care of 4 orchid plants for some friends who sold their home and have not yet moved into their new home. Once a week I water them in our sink and let them drip as you mentioned. A few of them have dropped some of their older blossoms but they still look good. They certainly are beautiful plants when in bloom!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on July 07, 2018:

You are very welcome Margaret. I hope this hub will help you a lot with your orchids. Thanks for your nice comment.

Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on July 02, 2018:

Thelma, thanks for these helpful tips on caring for orchids! I adore orchids, but I have had only mixed success in getting them to bloom for multiple years. This article is a great refresher on what to do to keep them happy and healthy.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on February 19, 2014:

You are welcome uNicQue. I hope reading this hub will help you. Thanks for your visit. Have a nice day!

Nicole Quaste from Philadelphia, PA on February 16, 2014:

Thank you for this hub. My boyfriend just bought me a beautiful orchid, and I'm nervous about it, because I want it to stay as beautiful as it is now.

Great hub. Thanks again!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on July 26, 2013:

Hi Lavender Jade! Yes, I shower the orchids and wait until the water is drained. Then before I put them back into their pots, I wiped off the wet leaves of the orchids. That´s what I mean of keeping them dry. Thanks for dropping by.

Lavender Jade from Derbyshire on July 26, 2013:

Really lovely hub and very informative, I have 3 orchids the Phalaenopsis type they have flowered beautifully this year but I was unsure about the flowers, when you say shower them, which I have never done, but will, can you get the flowers wet, I thought, I maybe wrong, but I thought you had to keep them dry, I may have dreamed it!

Thank you for the information

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on April 07, 2013:

Hi mizjo!

Thank you for stopping by. I´m no longer living in Ireland, but I did have a few pots of orchids on a bright and warm window sill. They grew very well too with lots of flowers to appreciate not only by me but also by our neighbours there. Sad to say I had to give them to my neighbours before leaving Ireland for Germany.

I´m sure with your loving and caring hands they will grow beautifully.

Have a great week!

mizjo from New York City, NY on April 06, 2013:

Very nice article, Thelma. I enjoyed reading it.

If you're still in Ireland, maybe you could try growing these lovely flowers (which you love) on a bright, warm windowsill?

I was so sorry your lovely plants got killed without your loving care.

I'm not as good with orchids as you are. Right now I have two plants I'm trying to save.

Thanks for the interesting read.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on March 21, 2013:

Yes, orchids are one of the beautiful flowers we have on earth and if you know how to take care of them, it´s awesome having them. It´s worth a try. Thanks for stopping by, Phoenix.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on March 21, 2013:

I think orchids are among the prettiest flowers but I've never had the nerve to keep one as I thought they were hard to look after. I enjoyed reading this.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on January 30, 2013:

Hi BkCreative! It´s nice to hear from you again. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate that. You don´t have to wait for the spring to buy orchids for the inside of your home as long as you have the heater on, but don´t put them near it. Enjoy your new orchids. Have a great day!

BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on January 29, 2013:

Wish I knew this when I was given the gift of some beautiful orchids - my favorite plant. With spring coming I think I will try again. Thanks so much for such a well-written hubs. I feel excited once again.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on December 14, 2012:

Hello Justsilvie! Sorry for not answering your comment immediately. I was traveling again. Well, good luck for your try in having a potted orchids. Thanks for sharing, as well as for your visit. Have a great weekend!

Justsilvie on December 03, 2012:

Excellent Hub with some great tips. I look at them at every store that sells them and always afraid to buy, because I have a brown thumb not a green one. Will pick up one next trip and give it a try. Voted up and shared.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on November 27, 2012:

Thanks pstraubie48 for your wonderful comment and for sending angels on my way. I appreciate that. Good luck for having new plants, orchids.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 26, 2012:

This is so helpful. I am a huge plant lover and have always wanted an orchid but truthfully I am a bit intimidated by them. After reading this I feel that I have the information I need to help me give it a try. Thank you for sharing. Sending Angels your way. :) ps

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on October 29, 2012:

Hi Eiddwen! Thanks for your comment. I appreciate that. I enjoyed my weekend. Thanks. Have a great week!

Eiddwen from Wales on October 27, 2012:

Interesting, useful and well informed.

Take care and enjoy your weekend.


Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on October 10, 2012:

Hi, Natashalh! You don´t have to be afraid. It´s not really difficult to grow orchids as long as you know how to take good care of them. I wish you good luck for your coming orchids. Let me know later how it is. Thanks for stopping by.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on October 10, 2012:

Hi Tammy! Just think positively that your coming orchid will grow healthy. With your love and care, the orchid will reward you with beautiful flowers. Thanks for your visit.

Natasha from Hawaii on October 08, 2012:

I've always loved orchids but have been afraid to purchase them because I'd been told they were difficult to grow. Now I want to rush out and buy one! They are such beautiful plants and I feel empowered by your tips. Thank you.

Tammy from North Carolina on October 08, 2012:

These are just gorgeous. I have never invested in them because I didn't want to kil them.. LOL! This looks like something I could do. Beautiful and helpful!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on October 06, 2012:

Well, we have the same reason why our orchids died. We left them for Ireland! You can start again with another orchids just like me, but this time you´ll know how to take care of them. You´re always welcome to visit my articles RunningDeer. Have a lovely weekend! Thanks for your visit.

RunningDeer from Iowa on October 05, 2012:

Clearly you know what you are doing. Great tips! I'm trying as hard as I can to get my orchids to rebloom, the poor things. I've had another orchid that would constantly rebloom. Sadly though, my sister killed it by leaving it in front of the A/C all summer while I was gone studying abroad in Ireland. I'll try some of your tips and get back to you. Thanks for the info!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on October 05, 2012:

Thank you rajan jolly for your wonderful comment, for sharing and pinning this hub. I appreciate that. Have a lovely weekend!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 05, 2012:

Thelma, the orchid photos are lovely. Especially in the last video. A very useful hub providing practical tips for orchid care.

Voted up, useful and interesting. Sharing this and pinning as well.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on October 04, 2012:

Hi moonlake! What a pity your friend got rid of her orchids! You can try one pot of orchid in your house, this time you can take care of it the way I stated here in this hub. You´ll never know, it might grow. Thanks for your visit and for sharing this to others.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on October 04, 2012:

Yes, I have started a trend. It would be nice to see orchids market in Thailand or somewhere in Asia. That´s one of my to do list. I can already smell the wild orchids. Thanks for your visit and for sharing Brett. I appreciate that. Have a great day!

moonlake from America on October 03, 2012:

My friend had beautiful orchids she just recently got rid of them. I have tried to grow them but they don't do well in my house. Yours are so pretty you do a good job taking care of them. Voted up and shared.

Brett C from Asia on October 03, 2012:

Sound like you started a trend. Over in Thailand where I lived before and shall return to in the future has an orchid market near the border, selling wild orchids ... the smell and scene is beautiful (although, as a hey-fever sufferer the smell is 'muffled' lol).

Shared, up and useful.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on September 30, 2012:

Hi, Mama Kim! Good luck for your coming orchids. I´m sure they will live long inside your house with you taking care of them. Thanks again for your visit and pinning. Have a great week!

Aloe Kim on September 30, 2012:

Wonderful hub Thelma!! I've been wanting to get an orchid ^_^ Now with your hub telling me all the care instructions I will most certainly get one! Thank you for all the great information! Voting and pinning!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on September 25, 2012:

Thank you randomcreative for your comment. I appreciate that. Have a great day!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on September 25, 2012:

Hi drbj! I got that problem before and was very thankful to my sister as she told me how to take care of them. So you see, I just passed on what I learned. Thanks for stopping by.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 24, 2012:

Just beautiful! Thanks for all of the great tips.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on September 24, 2012:

Thanks for these very useful instructions, Thelma. I've had potted orchids before but they never seemed to last very long. Now I've learned how to treat them the way they should be treated - thanks to you.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on September 24, 2012:

Hi Vinaya! I had potted orchids at home (Germany) before because I did not have the possibility to let them grow outside the house due to the non tropical weather. In the Philippines, I have the orchids hanging on the trees in our garden. Thanks for stopping by. Have a lovely week!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on September 24, 2012:

Hi ignugent17! You´re welcome. Yes, some orchids are sensitive and one should know how to take care of orchids before buying them. Thanks for stopping by and for your sharing. Have a great week!

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on September 23, 2012:

I have always loved orchids in the wild. I have never planted orchids in my home. Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips.

ignugent17 on September 23, 2012:

Hi Thelma! This is really very useful. Some orchids are very sensitive and really needs care. Thanks for the tips.

Voted up and shared!

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