How to Keep an Orchid Plant Alive

Overview

Few flowering houseplants rival the orchid in beauty. You have dozens of orchid species and varieties from which to choose. Each of the species may have their own specific growing requirements, but several general management and care guidelines apply to all orchids and can help you keep them alive and growing lush and green.

Step 1

Place the orchid in a pot filled with a blended mix of growing media specifically labeled for use on orchids, experts at the University of Tennessee recommend. Example ingredients include mixtures made from peat moss, fir bark and cork. No specific media is best, so the university says it's a matter of personal choice.

Step 2

Water the orchids. Watering too much or too little can quickly kill your orchid. The University of Florida recommends applying enough water so that moisture appears at the bottom of the pot. Don't water the orchid again until the top inch of the orchid's growing media is dry to the touch.

Step 3

Fertilize the orchid plant every four weeks. Use a 30-10-10 water-soluble fertilizer labeled for use with orchids, experts at the University of Illinois recommend. This will provide the orchid with the nutrients it needs to sustain healthy development.

Step 4

Keep your orchids at the right temperature. If exposed to temperatures that are too low, the orchid will die. Species can be divided into warm- intermediate- and cool-growing orchids, according to the University of Tennessee. If you're not sure what kind of orchid you have, consult the nursery or garden store who sold it to you. Warm-growing orchids can handle temperatures as low as 60 degrees; intermediate-growing orchids a lower limit of 50 degrees; and cool-growing orchids are hardy down to 45 degrees.

Step 5

Provide your orchids with sufficient light. Six to eight hours of indirect sunlight is ideal. The University of Illinois suggests arranging orchids approximately a foot from a south-facing window.

Things You'll Need

  • Orchid potting media
  • Water
  • Fertilizer

References

  • "Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic Plants"; William Cullina; 2004
  • University of Tennessee: Growing Orchids in the Home
  • University of Illinois: Growing Orchids
  • University of Florida: Tips on Growing Orchids

Who Can Help

  • American Orchid Society
Keywords: growing orchids, orchid plant care, keep orchid alive

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.