Orchid Care & Feeding

Overview

Orchids are one of the largest plant families known to man, according to Oregon State University. Beautiful and distinctive, orchids are popular with home gardeners, especially as container plants. These stunning flowers range widely in terms of cold-hardiness, but their other basic care needs are the same. This is especially true in the case of tropical orchids, which are commonly grown indoors.

Planting

Choose a container that has drainage holes and use a planting medium created just for orchids. These usually contain a high amount of peat moss, tree bark and other loose but well-draining materials. Plant the orchid so that the crown sits slightly below the lip of the container and water thoroughly.

Light and Air

Orchids thrive in bright but indirect sunlight. Place your orchid near a south-facing window or under fluorescent plant lights. If the orchid feels hot to the touch, it is getting too much direct sunlight and should be placed where it will be exposed to some afternoon shade. Orchids also need plenty of air circulation. Some will even benefit from a fan placed nearby to create a gentle breeze.

Water and Humidity

Water your orchid when the top inch or so of the planting medium feels dry to the touch. Use warm water and let the water flow until it drains freely out the bottom of the pot. in addition, provide plenty of humidity for your orchid. Most orchids need humidity at a level above 40 percent. Create a humidity tray for your orchid. Take a shallow tray and fill it with pebbles, then add water. Set the pot on the pebbles so that it is not touching the water, because letting an orchid sit in water will lead to root rot. As the water around the pebbles evaporates, it will add humidity to the air.

Feeding

Fertilize your orchid every other week or so. Use a plant food high in nitrogen (30-10-10) and follow the application directions as instructed on the label according to the size and age of your plant. Start with a diluted strength dose (such as one-fourth the recommendation), because orchids do much better with too little fertilizer than too much fertilizer.

Repotting

Re-pot your orchid every two or three years in a pot an inch or two larger than the previous size. Gently remove the orchid and slightly shake the root ball to remove any clinging plant medium. Make sure the new container is sterile and has not been used for other plants, or it could be harboring fungi.

Keywords: orchid care, feeding orchids, growing orchids

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.