“Orchids don’t make good houseplants; don’t buy an Orchid”. That was Grandma’s advice. And since I considered Grandma a gardening expert, I believed her. Yet, I couldn’t resist those tall exotic blooms and one day found myself leaving the grocery store with a beautiful white Orchid in hand. “Oh well I thought, I don’t know how to take care of orchids, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts”
Well, Grandma was wrong! That Orchid flourished. It bloomed and bloomed and bloomed again! I even repotted it and that orchid rebloomed again!
And, you can have this success too!
Are orchids easy to care for?
Yes! Read on for practical non-expert orchid tips. Learn how to care for orchids, water orchids, how to repot an orchid, which orchids to buy, and get tips for helping your orchid to rebloom again and again and again.
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Which orchid flower should you buy?
My advice: Just buy the prettiest one.
More specifically, go to the grocery store (or whatever large department store that also happens to sell houseplants) and just buy the one you think is prettiest! Picking a plant with some un-opened buds means the flowering will last longer. Avoid plants with dry or yellowing leaves. ‘Orchid care tip’ instructions sheets and a lovely pot are a bonus.
There are handfuls of sites on the internet about growing orchids and many of them get quite technical and specific.
Here’s the truth of my orchid success: I’ve only ever bought the cheap department store orchids (two from the grocery store, one from Ikea). I have never even tried to figure out which orchids are recommended as houseplants. In fact, I have no idea what variety my orchids actually are!
I just assume that the grocery store doesn’t want lots of people complaining that their plants have died so they probably figured out which ones would do best and are only selling those. (Of course I could be totally wrong on this, but so far, I’ve been lucky).
If you really want to know, it seems many sites recommend the moth orchid or the Phalaenopsis orchid. Did you know you can actually buy orchids online? I found this beautiful blue orchid on Amazon!
Plant Care Today has a comprehensive article on caring for the Phalaenopsis, an easy orchid care for beginners guide.
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Seriously easy – and pretty darn affordable too – considering they do the shopping, accessorizing, and decision making for you. Then, your new little friend arrives at your door ready for you to love and enjoy!
Check out the My Garden Box for a variety of indoor plants and beautiful plant pots and accessories or if perhaps succulents are more your style: The Succulents Monthly Box might be more of what you’re looking for.
Indoor Orchid Care: What’s the best temperature?
My advice: If you’re comfortable in your home, chances are orchids will be too.
Most orchids prefer an average home temperature and love when the temperatures fluctuate naturally. Because I have horribly-insulated windows, my orchids get a good dip in the temperature each night.
But, that being said, don’t leave them where they’ll be in a draft or too close to a vent.
If you happen to live somewhere quite hot without much of a nighttime temperature drop, you might have more difficulties getting your orchids to rebloom. Apparently, it’s the cooler night temperatures which help trigger blooming.
How to water Orchids?
My advice: Give your plant a little water once each week and soak it when you remember.
According to the experts, most orchids like some humidity and don’t want to dry out too often. If you dig around in that stuff your orchid is planted in, you’ll likely find big chunks of bark and maybe some mosses. This stuff doesn’t absorb water very well.
Should you use the ice cube orchid watering method? I’ve heard of people putting a few ice cubes into their orchid pot every week. I think this works because the slow melt encourages the bark to absorb some water, giving the roots a chance to drink it up at their pace. Otherwise, if you just pour regular water into your pot, you’ll notice the water very quickly just runs through and out the bottom.
How many ice cubes do indoor orchids need? Well, I’m just guessing here, but I’d probably try 1 ice cube / week for a tiny 2-3 inch pot, 2-3 ice cubes for a 4-6 inch pot, and perhaps 4-6 ice cubes for a 6-10 inch pot.
But, soaking is my preferred orchid watering method: Sit your orchid in a larger container of water for about 15 minutes. Doing this every few weeks will allow for the planting materials to absorb water and slowly release that back to the roots.
Getting yourself a soil moisture reader could be fun if you like monitoring these types of things.
As for keeping the humidity up, there are a few things you can do. Keeping your orchid in the bathroom or kitchen means it will enjoy an increased humidity level. You could also double pot your plant or keep it on a pebble tray. Grouping plants together also increases their humidity levels.
A pebble tray is simply a tray or dish with pebbles and water that you sit your plants on. This point is to increase humidity levels around your plants. So when you water your plants, you should also add water to your trays.
What do I mean by double potting? Here’s my planting secret. I put my orchids into slightly larger pots or bowls. Then, I put some rocks or something plastic on the bottom of the larger vessel to hold my orchid up off the bottom. When I water my orchid with a splash of water or by using ice cubes the excess water runs into the bottom and I leave it there to slowly evaporate (provide humidity). The important piece is that the orchid is raised up. Don’t let the orchid’s roots sit in that water! If there’s too much water in the bottom (or it’s scuzzy and yucky) dump it out!
Oh, and don’t forget about fertilizer! As plants grow and bloom and thrive they’ll slowly use up the nutrients present in their growing medium. You can replenish these important nutrients in a variety of ways. A quick Google search will give you all sorts of DIY orchid fertilizer formulas or you can skip the research and just buy yourself an easy to apply quality orchid fertilizer.
Our Picks for Orchid Fertilizers:
No fuss, easy to apply, top-rated, orchid fertilizers.
This is how I water my Orchids
See how I take care of orchids in this video below, I prefer to use the soaking method. I try to do this about once a week. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I just give them a splash of water.
You can also see what I mean by double-potting in this video. I also cut off a dead flower stalk and a dried out root.
Do Orchids need sunlight?
My advice: Don’t put orchids in the direct hot summer sun. Sit them where you’ll enjoy them and where they’ll enjoy a few hours of bright light each day.
My orchids have gotten ugly white sunburn spots on their leaves when they get too much direct hot sun… whoops!
Orchids do best with medium to high light like east and west-facing sun. Most guides recommend against northern exposure; although, my mom’s orchid (below) has had many reblooms with her orchids in a huge north facing window. And, we’re in Canada… that north window doesn’t get any sun at all!)
Look at all those blooms! This particular orchid was from a grocery store about 3 years ago… and she cares for hers in a very non-professional way: No fertilizers, a splash of water when she remembers, and a north facing window.
Tips on re-potting an Orchid
My advice: wait a few years… unless your orchid’s roots are potted in moss… if that’s the case, repot them now!
If your roots are potted in moss and you worry that perhaps your roots are rotting or are too wet too much of the time you should consider changing out that potting mix for something that drains quickly and will allow some air to get down into the roots. (Check out the video below.)
Eventually, if you have success with your orchid, it will outgrow its original pot. You’ll know it’s time to repot when the orchid is top heavy, or the roots at the bottom have exploded out of the container like a giant sea monster’s tentacles trying to drown a ship!
How to repot an orchid:
- Buy a small bag of orchid potting mix
- Choose a plant pot a few inches larger than your current plant pot (make sure it’s clean).
- Gently remove your orchid from its original pot. You may need to cut some roots to free it.
- Remove any rotten-looking roots or potting mix. Dig between the roots if needed.
- Place your orchid root ball into the new container, try to push pieces gently in between roots, and fill around with orchid potting mix.
- Make sure you remember to include your stem support stick or add a higher one if needed.
- Soak for about 20 minutes, drain, and place in a bright spot to enjoy.
My Favourite Must-Haves for Orchid Repotting:
How to rebloom an Orchid?
My advice: Give it time.
Tips for Orchid Care after Flowering
It is possible to rebloom orchids! Both my mom and I have had tremendous success with our orchids and neither one of us has really done anything special. According to the plant experts, an orchid will be best encouraged to rebloom if it receives nightly temperature fluctuations and I think this is probably why we’ve had success… we tend to keep our homes cooler especially during the winter nights.
How to rebloom orchids:
- Pluck off any dead flowers. You can also cut the flower stalk if it appears to have dried out. Mom and I have differing opinions on whether or not we should cut those flower stalks. I tend to cut them. She doesn’t. Both of us have had our orchids rebloom.
- Leave the orchid to sit in a bright spot close to a window. Often times there is a temperature fluctuation closer to windows.
- Continue to water as usual and wait.
- If after 6 months you don’t see any new flower buds or a flower stalk growing, you can try to cut the old flower stalk down (cut just before a little bump on the stem).
- Continue to water and wait some more.
- If you still haven’t seen any new flower growth, try moving the plant to a different spot. At this point, you just need to experiment a little – maybe a bit of fertilizer? maybe change up your watering routine or find a spot with a cooler or warmer temperature?
Help, my orchid is potted in moss and it is dying!
I hope this isn’t your situation, but the more I learn about orchids, the more I see people’s orchids arriving home with their roots packed into moss… and that can cause a lot of root rotting damage if those roots stay too wet!
This video demonstrates very clearly how to repot an orchid that has been packed in moss.
Can I really take care of orchids?
I get asked this a lot… and you can see above, that really, once you get into the routine of watering them regularly, they’re sure to reward you with plenty of years of beautiful flowers.
Growing houseplants is one of the easiest ways to bring nature indoors and into your family’s life. Plants make thoughtful gifts for almost any occasion. They help clean the air and elevate one’s mood. They help a home feel cozy and alive. And, they’re just nice to look at!
So, if you’re looking for an easy way to start with houseplants, I would suggest trying an orchid. Hopefully this ‘how to take care of orchids’ article showed you that they don’t need much special treatment and has encouraged you to even try reblooming your orchid after its initial flowers have faded.
If you already have orchids in your home, and have any orchid growing tips that work really well for you, I’d love if you shared them. What works for me in my location will not necessarily work for everyone. Happy growing!
P.S. Bringing nature into your home and family life doesn’t just mean turning your family into avid hikers or going bird watching every Sunday morning. There are myriad of ways to be more environmentally aware and appreciative of the natural world.
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