Orchids are bright, graceful plants native to the rain forests of the world. They grow long flower shoots with unique five-petaled flowers in a range of colors and patterns. In their natural habitat, orchids grow on the trunks and canopies of tropical trees, not in the boggy undergrowth or swamps. This preference for air and light affects an orchid's preferred care in home and gardens.
Orchids prefer dry atmospheres with good air circulation, and suffer from too much water or standing water. Give orchids only 1/2 to 1 inch of water every five to 10 days, and only water them when the soil is already dried.
According to River Valley OrchidWorks, the most common mistake people make with orchids is overwatering. Orchid roots store water for themselves and don't need a constant supply. The spongy material that stores water rots when it sits in standing water, leading to orchid root rot.
River Vally OrchidWorks states that another common mistake is assuming that orchids require intense tropical heat and humidity to grow. The water-retaining material in the roots rots in suffocating heat or humidity or in an improper growing foundation.
Orchids with root rot show symptoms in the plant and roots. An orchid's flower stalk fails and becomes dry and ultimately whithers, as do the blooms and vegetation. Roots become a soggy mass of rotten vegetation.
Prevent orchid root rot by growing orchids under the right conditions from the start. The plants prefer pots with drainage holes and non-soil foundations like peat moss and wood chips for circulation and drainage. Keep the plants in the filtered light of north-facing windows or under fluorescent lighting. Maintain a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.