When it comes to flowers, it is hard to ignore the elegance and beauty of orchids. With over 20.000 varieties, orchids can be found in every part of the globe. Orchid care largely depends on the type of orchid, and the environment they are being grown in. By keeping a few key factors in mind, you can grow and maintain an orchid with relative ease.
Orchid Type and Growing Conditions
Knowing how to care for an orchid starts with knowing what type of orchid you have. The 3 most popular types are phalaenopsis or moth orchid, dendrobium, and oncidium. Phalaenopsis or moth orchids are so named because they resemble a large moth in flight and are the most common orchids found in stores and nurseries. All 3 are native to Southeast Asia and prefer a warm and humid environment. The ideal temperature for growing orchids is between 60 and 75 degrees and 40%-70% humidity.
Orchids thrive in light breezes, which help to keep their roots healthy. This can be achieved by opening a window in the summer months or with a fan on low, just be certain that your airflow is not causing a cold draft. Orchids need a lot of light to thrive. Up to 10 hours a day of bright, indirect sunlight is best in the spring and summer months and depending on the placement and amount of sunlight during the fall and winter you may need a grow lamp to supplement the light needs of your orchid.
Potting, Watering, and Fertilization
Orchid roots are sensitive to over-watering, so when you are potting your orchid it is best to use a terracotta pot with holes in the bottom for drainage. Terracotta is porous and allows for good air circulation to the roots of your orchid. Because the roots need air flow, you should not use conventional potting soil. Instead, you will want to use a soil that is fast draining and porous. Using a moss or bark-based soil is recommended. You will want to keep in mind that the type of soil used will affect the speed at which the water drains, which will determine how frequently you have to water your orchid.
Bark based soil will dry out more quickly than one that uses moss. Over-watering is a common mistake with orchids. Orchids prefer dryer conditions, so as a general rule you will want to water once a week when the top inch of soil feels dry. Fertilizing your orchids is necessary to promote re-blooming and should be done weekly or monthly depending on the type of orchid. You should use a balanced household plant fertilizer or orchid specific fertilizer for best results.
Your orchids will need to be replotted once every two years. Repotting is necessary because the bark and moss they are planted in will decompose. As it decomposes, the soil will compact and suffocate the roots of your orchid. Repotting may also be needed if they outgrow their pot. You will know if they need a larger pot because you will see white roots popping out of the container. It is best to repot orchids after they bloom.
Orchids are stunningly beautiful and adaptable plants. Caring for orchids doesn’t have to be a chore. If you remember to monitor their growing conditions and do not over-water, you will enjoy your orchids colorful displays for years to come.