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The Ultimate Guide to Orchid Care

Orchids are exceptional plants, adored for their intricate blooms, arching stems, and magnificent foliage. There are more than 28,000 species of these stunning tropical and subtropical plants. Each orchid type grows in a unique habitat and requires variations in orchid care and growing environments in order for them to thrive.

The types of orchids commonly grown as houseplants are epiphytic plants—ones that grow on the surfaces of other plants and take in moisture and nutrients from the air around them.

Orchids are relatively easy to grow and care for, and they provide lasting blooms of up to 6 months a year.  Check out our tips on the ultimate guide to orchid care which will help you grow the healthiest and most prolific blooming orchid plants.

Colorful orchids

The Best Containers for Growing Orchids

Containers are extremely important when planting houseplants like orchids. In nature, many tropical orchids cling to tree branches, where their root systems are highly aerated. So, when growing and caring for orchid plants, the pot that you select is paramount.

Ideally, your pot should have holes around it for added ventilation. You can buy pots made explicitly for orchid growing or use a traditional pot as long as you plant your orchid in a plastic insert pot with plentiful, punched-out holes and place it inside the conventional container.

Ideal Soil Composition for Planting Orchids

In order to mimic their natural habit, when planting orchids, use a planting mix that is specifically formulated for orchid plants. These mixes are more of a consistency of a coarse bark mix than a true soil. You can also use sphagnum moss as your planting medium. Traditional all-purpose potting mixes contain tiny particles that hold onto water which will suffocate the intricate root systems of orchid plants.

How To Repot Orchids

It is essential to note that even the highest quality orchid mix, composed of large organic particles, will break down naturally over time when it comes to orchid care. This can cut off the supply of air to the roots of orchids, leading to the plants’ demise.

When caring for your orchid, it is vital to repot your orchid plants in a new orchid potting mix once each year. Here’s how:

  • Take the orchid plant out of its pot.
  • Carefully remove all of the potting mix from around the windy root system.
  • Assess the roots- roots should be bright green and healthy-looking. Prune away any brown, twisted, or dried-up roots with clean pruning shears.
  • Tuck new orchid potting mix in and around the root system of your orchid plant.
  • Place the root ball into a well-aerated pot with holes.
  • Water and allow water to drain through fully.
Woman spraying water on blooming orchid on window sill

Orchid Care: Light & Temperature Requirements

Phalaenopsis orchids thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. Place orchid plants in a room near a window that faces south or west for optimal growing conditions. Too much direct sunlight can burn your orchid plant.

*Note that some orchid varieties may require different lighting requirements. Always check your plant tag for care considerations for your particular plant variety.

Humidity Needed for Growing Orchids

Orchid plants grow naturally in subtropical and tropical climates where humidity reigns. When it comes to orchid care, a humidity tray is recommended. If your home is dry, you can make your own humidity tray by placing your orchid plant on a shallow bowl of small stones, applying water to the stones. Just make sure that the pot itself is not submerged in water, as this can lead to root rot. Over time, the water will evaporate and create the ideal humidity the plant needs to grow.

The Best Way to Water Orchids

Watering is a crucial task on the ultimate guide to orchid care. However, there is no exact answer as to how often you should water your orchid plant. As a general rule, you should water your orchid plant once a week to once every 10-14 days.

  • Press the tip of your finger into coarse bark to check if the orchid potting mix is dry.
  • If the mix feels moist at all or if you are unsure if it is damp, do not water your orchid plant.
  • Water orchid plants using lukewarm water to mimic their natural tropical environment.
  • Allow the water to drain through the pot thoroughly and remove any standing water.
  • Do not allow water to pool up on leaf stems. If water is sitting at the base of leaves, pat them with a paper towel to prevent crown rot and fungal growth.
  • Reduce watering throughout the plant’s dormant phase in the winter months, as it is preparing to bloom the following spring and summer.
Woman transplanting orchid into another pot on kitchen. Housewife taking care of home plants and flowers

When To Fertilize Orchid Plants

Orchids perform with gorgeous blooms for up to 6 months out of the year, and they don’t have a lot of soil to gain nutrients from, so they can benefit significantly from fertilizer.

  • Select a fertilizer specifically formulated for orchid plants.
  • Add either a half dosage to your watering can once a week or a full dose of fertilizer to your watering can every two weeks.

Orchid Care & Pruning

  • Once your orchid plant has flowered, and the blooms have faded, use a sharp pair of clean pruning shears to snip off the bloom stalk at the base.
  • As mentioned earlier, during the yearly repotting, prune away any dried-up or damaged roots from the plant to ensure plant health.

Common Orchid Pests & Diseases

  • Crown Rot
  • Root Rot

Recommended Orchid Varieties to Grow

Try growing some of our favorite varieties of orchid plants. Our ultimate guide to orchid care will help you get the most out of these delicate blooming treasures.

  • Phalaenopsis Orchids’: Most commonly found and easy to grow. Produces large moth-like blooms and comes in over 75 different varieties.
  • Cattleya Orchids’: Bicolored, speckled, and highly fragrant orchid variety.
  • Dendrobium Orchids’: Produce delicate yellow, white or lavender blooms. Top-heavy blooming plant requires staking.
  • Miltonia Orchids’: Produce blooms that resemble a facelike motif that blooms from late spring through early summer.

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