Orchids primarily grow in tropical climates such as those found in Asian rainforests. In their natural setting, orchids require plenty of indirect light, humidity, air circulation and nutrients to help them thrive and bloom. The plants grow indoors in almost any location as long the right equipment gets used to help emulate their natural growing conditions.
To bloom, orchids need plenty of bright light. But they cannot take direct light, or their foliage will burn. Fluorescent lights work well for gardeners who want to grow more than just a few orchids. Indirect light coming through windows on the south, east or west sides of a room also works well.
Similar to their tropical homes, orchids require high humidity to thrive. According to the University of Illinois, orchids need between 40 to 85 percent humidity, making a humidifier a valuable piece of equipment to keep running when growing orchids. Once you set up a humidifier near the orchids, run it full time to keep the air humid.
Most orchids bloom when daytime temperatures stay 10 to 20 degrees F warmer than nighttime temperatures, according to the University of Illinois. Controlled heating using a thermostat just for the room the orchids grows in allows gardeners to lower the temperature during the night and raise it during the day. Some orchids, such as moth orchids, require specific temperatures such as daytime temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees F and 65 to 70 degrees F at night, making it even more critical that the source of heat work precisely.
Orchids require good air circulation similar to the tropical areas they grow in naturally. Small portable fans or ceiling fans, also known as paddle fans, set on low speed help the air circulate while also keeping diseases away. Portable fans work best when faced away from the plants so the air does not blow directly on the orchids.
Orchid roots require a good potting soil that offers excellent air penetration and fast water drainage. The soil should also hold enough moisture to help the plant thrive. Special commercially sold soil mixes for orchids make a good choice. Mixes that consist of shredded fir bark, peat moss, and perlite or sand work well, too.
Water remains one of the touchiest parts of growing orchids. That's because each orchid needs to be examined carefully to determine its watering needs. Gardeners can check a plant's need for water by sticking a finger into the potting mix to see if it feels dry. If it feels dry, the plant needs water. Or, insert a wooden stake into the potting mix--if it comes out dry, it indicates the orchid needs water.