Basic Orchid Growing Tips
General Orchid Care
While orchids look beautiful, their tall slender stem and large bloom may be intimidating to owners without green thumbs. You may have heard that orchids are difficult to grow—but this rumor is false. Orchids are relatively simple to grow indoors; you’ll just need to know where you locate your plant and maintain water levels a little more carefully than you would with other indoor plants.
Orchids need plenty of indirect sunlight while in the growing cycle, so ensure you position your plant in the best location in your home. The perfect place for growing orchids is a south-facing windowsill, where the plant will receive indirect sunlight without getting too hot. Although you may be tempted to place an orchid in a sun-rich area, keep in mind that leaving an orchid too close to a hot window could actually cook the plant, killing it, or a the very least stress the plant and change the color of the leaves.
Video on Growing Orchids Indoors
Did you know that some orchids growing in the wild don't bloom on the ground? In fact, some orchids grow in the crooks and crannies between branches up in the tree tops, where there is no soil, and where there is plenty of moisture and drainage.
Unlike other plants that prefer dense organic potting soil, orchids thrive in a rougher mix that is airier and lighter. Look for a potting mix specifically intended for orchids, or use large chunks of bark to help anchor the plant’s rhizome (root-like) portion in the pot. A chunkier mix will encourage adequate drainage while providing the sufficient amount of air to circulate around the roots. Looser potting medium will also lessen the amount of water accumulation around your orchid. Too much standing water near the could drown the plant.
Orchids thrive with brief dry spells between watering, so only water the plant when the potting mix is dry to the touch at about the 1-inch depth. Avoid adding too much water since an orchid in standing water may develop root-rot, which may causes a to plant to die altogether. If you are concerned about over-watering, consider adding an ice cube (or two) to the soil every day or so; this infrequent moisture allows for the orchid to slowly absorb the water, without risk of adding to much moisture at one time.
While orchids can’t stand too much water, they love high humidity, as they are naturally found in the rain forest. In fact, orchids thrive in areas between 40 to 70 percent humidity.
Since most homes only have about a 35 percent humidity, you’ll need to increase the humidity directly around the plant; do this by misting the soil or leaves of the plant; avoid watering the bloom directly.
Alternatively, you can increase humidity by placing the pot on a tray of rocks and water, or simply place the orchid near other potted plants. You can also move the plant to a hot and steamy bathroom from time to time, but don’t sacrifice the amount of light the plant gets for a more humid location, more than anything else orchids need plenty of light.
Ensure a strong stem by supporting it with a stake. Gently secure the stem to the stake (such as a bamboo skewer) with raffia or soft twine, about every 2 to 4 inches. Sometimes florists also use tiny hair clips to hold the stem to the stake. The added strength of the stake ensures that the slender stem doesn’t break under the strain of a massive bloom. As the stem grows you may have to get a longer or stronger stake.
Once your bloom is spent and withers away, you can take one of three options:
- Wait and see. Maybe it will rebloom this season.
- Cut the bloom off to encourage new growth now.
- Cut the bloom off to encourage blooming next year.
What happens next in the life of your orchid depends on the type it is, and how well it has been taken care of before withering away. Some orchids grow annually, while some may bloom several times a year.
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
Should I repot my orchid?
You can definitely repot an orchid, but it's best to repot it when it is beginning to show new root growth, which is typically in the spring.
Avoid repotting the plant in the summer or winter though, as this is a stressful time on the plant.
Visit http://www.aos.org/orchids/aos-video-library/when-... for a brief video on repotting orchids.