Orchids belong to the most diverse family of plants on the planet, with more than 880 genera and 28,000 species, according to the University of Georgia. Although orchids have a reputation for being difficult to grow, most varieties make ideal houseplants. If you consider their individual needs and care for them properly, orchids will live indefinitely and bloom for many months.
Choose a potting medium carefully. Never plant an orchid in soil, as doing so can be fatal to your plant. In the wild, orchids attach to trees, rocks and other plants to grow, and they need a considerable amount of air circulation around their roots to prevent suffocation. Instead of soil, use tree bark, peat moss, fern or cork.
Collect rainwater for your orchids by placing a container outdoors. Chemically treated tap water is not suitable for watering orchids. Leave the water at room temperature.
Water your orchid early in the day to give the potting material time to dry before nighttime. Although different types of orchids and different potting mediums require different amounts of water, generally you should water your plant once each week during colder months and twice each week during the summer heat. The potting medium should remain slightly damp but never be wet or completely dry. Avoid wetting the leaves of your orchid.
Keep the humidity level around your orchid between 50 and 70 percent. Do this by placing your plant in a shallow dish containing water and pebbles. Do not allow the bottom of the pot to touch the water.
Fertilize your orchid once a month using a food specifically designed for it. If you notice poor growth or a lack of flowering, you may need to increase the frequency of feeding.
Check the color of orchid leaves to determine if your home is providing adequate light for the plant to grow and flower. Healthy orchids have bright green leaves, whereas light-deprived plants have leaves of yellow or red. In most cases, placing your orchid near a window, but behind curtains or blinds, provides sufficient natural light.
Watch for signs of sunburn in your orchid. When exposed to too much direct light, orchid leaves become hot and burn. They may turn brown or develop black blotches. If this occurs, move your plant farther away from natural light sources until the fall or summer months.
Cut the stem of your orchid halfway down when the last flower drops off. This will help ensure additional flowering.
Examine your orchid regularly for signs of snails, slugs, aphids or other pests. Chewed-up leaves and stems or brown or black crust on the plant is a sign of infestation. Mealy bug infestation may result in a white, cottony mass on your plant. If you believe you have an insect problem, consult a garden center for help locating a product for your specific pest and orchid type.