Skip to main content

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: 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: 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: 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?????