HOW TO GROW ORCHID
Updated: May 30, 2020
Do you have beautiful orchid at home but not sure how to care for them? Don’t worry we have some tips for orchid beginners.
Orchids represent the largest family of flowering plants on Earth, with more than 25,000 species and over 200,000 hybrids. Their diversity is unparalleled due to their ability to adapt and the longevity of their lifespan. Fossilized orchids have been found dating back millions of years.
While orchids can be found from the arctic tundra to the equator, most cultivated species are native to the tropics. They generally grow high in trees rather than the forest floor which is why they require specific lighting and air circulation for healthy growth. If you take the climate of their environment and the location of their natural habitat into consideration, it becomes easier to understand the basic care requirements of orchids.
Most orchids bloom annually, but if they are really happy, they may bloom more often.
More orchidsare killed by over-watering than drought.
Orchids usually remain in bloom for six to ten weeks.
Many orchids deal poorly with re-potting, and usually will not flower for at least a year after they have been disturbed.
Are orchids difficult to grow?
Many of them are. In fact, some are almost impossible to keep alive, much less bring into bloom—even for professional growers. But there are dozens of varieties of orchids, and hundreds of hybrids, that are perfectly happy growing on a sunny windowsill or under lights.
For beginner, start by choosing one of the less fussy varieties that is adapted to the type of growing conditions you can provide. Buy the most mature plant you can afford (young plants are much more difficult to please), and, if possible, buy it in bloom, so you’ll know what you’re striving for.
Quick Orchid Buying Tips
1. Start with a mature plant.
2. Buy from knowledgeable, experienced vendors.
3. Examine the plant for signs of disease, weakness, or infestation. Signs of unhealthy orchids include:
Black spots or crust
White webbingLimp leaves
Yellow leaves Yellow or brown spots
Damp black spotsTorn leaves or petals with tiny holes
4. Choose an orchid that matches the level of care you are willing to provide.
5. Decide where you want your orchid and then pick a species that will grow in the light available in that location.
Basic Orchid Care
Depending on the specie, some orchid prefers high light (unobstructed sunlight from a south-facing window) where others prefer low light (limited northern exposure).
You can assess the leaves to check the amount of light your orchid is receiving. Brown leaves indicate your plant needs less sun. Deep green leaves often require more light.
Orchid likes the temperatures that are well within the rage of human comfort. For a simple reference, if you are too hot or cold, your orchid is likely too hot or too cold as well.
Tropical plants are accustomed to more humidity than the average living room. In order to keep your orchid healthy, place your potted plant on top of pebbles and add water. Air flow is also very important. Try adding a fan to the room if you notice your orchid deteriorating.
Orchids need to be watered differently than most plants because they are often planted in a bark mix rather than soil. Watering needs also depend on the type of orchid, pot, potting mix, humidity levels and light. Be sure to water thoroughly each time so the roots have a chance to absorb the moisture before it runs through the mix.
As a rule of thumb, drought-tolerant orchids, such as cattleyas, oncidiums and dendrobiums only need to be watered once a week. Other species should be watered every 4-5 days.
When watering unpotted orchid, it is sometimes easiest to place the plant in the sink, letting room temperature water run over it for a minute or so. Leave time for it to drain completely and avoid distilled or salt-softened water.
For potted orchids, give 2 ice cubes (or 2 table spoons of water) per stem on the rim of the pot. which will be enough for roots to absorb water. Over watering can lead to root rot.
Similar to the other important care factors, fertilizing is specific to each species. Generally, growers recommend using 20-20-20 fertilizer weekly or monthly. However, orchids will do far better with too little fertilizer than with too much. Many growers recommend the "weakly, weekly" approach, applying a dilute (1/4 strength) fertilizer each time they water, rather than applying a full dose once a month. Also, it is best not to fertilize a completely dry plant as the fertilizer can burn the dry roots. Water first then follow with fertilizer solution.
If you choose to fertilize weekly, it’s important that you dilute the fertilizer (about one-quarter of the full strength) so as to not overfeed the plant. After the blooms have dropped off it’s still important to fertilize monthly or every other week.
Easy Orchid Varieties for Beginners
Cattleya: High light; 55 to 90 degrees F; 40 to 80 percent humidity; alternate wet and dry; coarse fir bark.
Phalaenopsis: Bright light; 65 to 85 degrees F; 40 to 70 percent humidity; do not allow to dry out; medium fir bark.
Paphiopedilum: Bright light; 50 to 80 degrees F, depending on variety; 40 to 60 percent humidity; continuous moisture; bark or fluffy moss mix.
What to do When Orchid Drops Flowers
If your orchid drops all of its flowers, do not be alarmed. It will bloom again in one year. If it does not bloom again, it means the plant has gone dormant. Likely, the roots are stifled and the orchid needs new growing medium. Dead roots and stems need pruned before you pot the plant. This process usually needs to be done every two or three years. The orchid should send out a new stem and flower again during blooming season.