Care of Orchids

Care of Orchids

Grow beautiful orchids with a little TLC.

Elegant and captivating, orchids (Orchidaceae) are a pure delight to have in the indoor home. The many varieties produce a rainbow of colors, shapes and patterns that are truly amazing. However, this special perennial plant does require some special care. In order for orchids to bloom their best, they require good drainage, fertilization and timed pruning in order to continue flowering over the years. With a little careful consideration, growing orchids is a very achievable dream.

Orchids are tropical plants and enjoy water, humidity and warm temperatures. If your home is not very humid, misting the leaves and keeping the soil moist, but not soggy, will help the orchid to thrive. Grouping orchids in with other house plants will also increase humidity. Proper light is also essential... too much will cause leaves to yellow and wilt and too little will prevent blooms from appearing. Place the orchid near a sunny window so that it gets plenty of indirect light and warmth.

You can fertilize with orchid plant food and follow the package directions, which will give the orchid the proper balance of the major nutrients to keep it healthy and growing. Generally speaking, fertilize orchids once a month for optimum growth and flowering.

It is important to repot orchids from time to time, for continued growth and blooming. To repot, gently remove the entire plant from its pot, carefully removing any dead root material that may be present. Place the orchid in a pot just one size larger than its previous one; a large, new pot would be a difficult adjustment. Orchid potting mix is mostly bark, so be sure to fill in the new pot with the proper mixture, pressing firmly on the top to secure the roots.

An orchid's main attraction is its delicate blooms. The number one concern is how to enjoy the flowers for a longer time. Light plays a vital role in getting orchids to bloom. Strong, indirect light is needed. If a window is not sufficient, an overhead grow-light is a great option. Remove dead flowers, as they fade, and cut the dead stalk back to just a few inches above the base of the stalk, when the plant has dried up and yellowed. It will come back, even stronger, the next year. Cooler night temperatures (45-55°) will aid in flowering. However, if those temps are too a little cold for your home, keep the orchid near the window when the nights are chilly.

Phalaenopsis orchids are pruned differently than all other orchids in order for them to re-bloom. Mature plants can bloom twice in one year by cutting the stem off one inch above the top node. This will leave the lower portion of the stem and encourage a new flower shoot to bloom from one of the nodes below the cut.

With a little knowledge and careful attention, anyone can grow beautiful orchids in their home. Orchids just need what we all need: water, food and room to grow.