Orchids enjoy high humidity.
image by dorne/morguefile
Orchids may look like delicate jewels straight from the rainforest, but many grow successfully in average household conditions with a few modifications to temperature and humidity level. These exotic flowers are hardier than they seem and just may surprise you with lush green foliage and strikingly beautiful blooms when you take the time to meet their growing needs.
Grow orchids in a potting mixture designed for the specific species. Some thrive with a mixture of pine bark, while others grow in a peat-based potting mixture. Orchids purchased in nurseries or greenhouses have been grown in the preferred medium. Match the mixture as closely as possible when transplanting orchids to new pots.
Place orchids in bright indirect light. Although they require a lot of light, avoid placing orchids in direct sunlight. Light filtered through a sheer curtain is ideal.
Maintain high humidity levels between 40 and 70 percent for orchids. Pebble trays filled with water, humidifiers or cool mist vaporizers provide the moisture these plants need. Mist daily with distilled water. Tap water may be used, but should rest for 24 hours to allow harmful additives to dissipate.
Keep temperatures between 55 and 60 degrees F during the night and in the 70s to low 80s in the daytime for most orchids. Avoid exposure to extreme heat or to temperatures below 50 F. A draft free area with moderate temperatures is ideal for orchids.
Water to moisten potting mixture and allow to drain thoroughly. Do not allow roots to sit in water, as they need adequate air circulation to thrive. Although orchids have the reputation of requiring frequent watering, more plants are killed by overwatering than underwatering.
Fertilize with half strength orchid fertilizer once a month. According to the University of Georgia, most orchids thrive naturally in areas that are low in nutrients and too much fertilizer damages tender roots and kills plants.