Raise your hand if you’re an orchid lover (I’m over here with both hands up!) With unique, long-lasting blooms and attractive colour options, orchids are a favourite of many gardeners and plant lovers. A reliable plant, orchids are fairly easy to care for. The tricky part? Getting them to re-bloom. With this orchid care guide, you’ll grow beautiful orchids with bountiful blooms in no time!
Out of the over 28,000 different species of orchids, the most readily available and easiest to grow are Dendrobium (Orchids), Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchids), and Cymbidium (Boat Orchids).
It can be tempting to buy a plant with tons of fully open flowers, but it’s best to choose one with blooms just starting to open. It’s at the beginning of its blooming cycle, and you’ll enjoy those flowers for much longer! I also look for the number of spikes. Why buy a plant with only one spike when you can buy one with two for the same price? (You know I’m about the biggest bang for my buck!)
Aerial roots that grow right out of the pot are fine with orchids. Make sure the roots are firm, bright green, light green or white. If the roots are limp, they have been overwatered and are dead. If that is the case, choose another plant.
Bright, green, stiff leaves that point upward are healthy. Floppy, dark green, leathery leaves have been deprived of light and water. Avoid dark, discoloured spots or patches that may indicate disease.
Once you’ve chosen your orchid plant, it’s time to bring it home and find the perfect spot! As the seasons change, you may want to re-position your plants. Simply moving them towards or away from the window manipulates the amount of light they receive. You want adequate light in winter months but need to avoid sunburn in the summer.
It seems like a lot of instructions upfront – but if you can find the perfect spot, you’re well on your way to growing beautiful orchids at home!
Let’s bust a common myth. Have you ever heard of watering your orchid with two ice cubes once a week? It’s only half right! Using two ice cubes is an excellent descriptor for the VOLUME of water – orchids don’t need much at once. But they are tropical plants and won’t enjoy that icy touch.
Orchids like to be a little dry on occasion. Being constantly wet can lead to root rot – overwatering is one of the most common (and quickest) ways to kill your plants.
The best way to water your orchids is to check them once a week. Pop your finger into the top inch of soil – if it feels dry, add water. Leave it alone if it’s still moist, and check it another day.
Orchids do best when humidity ranges between 40%-70%. In winter, the humidity level in most homes is well below ideal, but there are many easy ways to bump it up.
Orchids are fans of fans! The goal is to replicate their natural, breezy environment. An overhead paddle fan set on the slowest speed or a small oscillating fan facing away from your plants should work. Air movement at night is just as crucial as daytime, so fans should run continuously. The gentle movement of thin foliage should be your goal – if your orchids are shaking, turn the fan down a bit.
Misting orchids occasionally can help increase humidity; however, some feel it can also increase the risk of disease. The jury is out on this one! Why not experiment? In my experience, occasional misting helps rather than harms. Here are a few simple rules to set yourself up for success. Ensure the water is clean (wash mister after each use) and use tepid water when misting.
Orchids are light feeders. They need fertilizing every one to two weeks in the summer and about once a month in the winter. You can also use a slow-release fertilizer to provide low levels of nutrients with every watering. One essential tip is ensuring the potting medium is moist before fertilizing. Orchid roots are sensitive and can burn if exposed to high concentrations of fertilizer. My go-to for feeding my orchids is Miracle-Gro Orchid Food.
Orchids love plant food just like their leafy friends. Despite their reputation for being difficult, they’ll bloom in your home with the right TLC. Spray them with Miracle-Gro® Ready-To-Use Orchid Plant Food Mist once a week for an instant hit of moisture and nutrients.
Orchids have specific soil needs. Phalaenopsis and Dendrobium orchids natively grow on the bark of trees in tropical rainforests. To replicate their natural environment, they need soil that can maintain humidity and allow oxygen to flow around the roots. It also needs decaying bark matter or coarse matter. My favourite is MiracleGro Orchid Mix.
Phalaenopsis and Dendrobium orchids are low maintenance and easy to grow. The most significant issues are generally things like root rot, crown rot or sunburn due to too much water or sunlight. Keep an eye on your orchid – the earlier you see signs of a problem, the easier it will be to address it and get your plant back to its healthy self!
Common Orchid Problems
The question I’m most often asked about orchids is how to get them to re bloom. Tip #1 is to stay patient! Orchids go long periods between blooms.
With stunning blooms that last for months, orchids are one of the best indoor flowering plants. Your plant can last for years – if you treat it right! I hope these tips help you grow beautiful orchids at home! If you have any other orchid questions, send them my way.
Let me know if you have more questions when it comes to Orchids or any other indoor plant!