Care of Orchid Plants

More than 30,000 of orchid species exist. image by George Bosela:


More than 30,000 species of orchids exist and are available to the home gardener. All are unique and require care that's specific to its species. Orchids are generally kept indoors or in greenhouses. They are exotic perennial plants that are sometimes quite expensive. Orchids that are properly cared for can last for years.

Step 1

Water orchids properly. Different orchids have different water needs. Read over the instructions that came with your plant. For example, cattleya and oncidium orchids need little water and should be allowed to dry out between waters. Watering every five days is generally sufficient. On the other hand, paphiopedilum and haemeria orchids need to remain wet at all times. Orchids that need little water will die if kept wet.

Step 2

Use a fertilizer that is designed for orchids and labeled 30-10-10. Fertilize no more than once a month. Begin using half the manufacturer recommended dosage for your orchid since over fertilizing can kill the plant. Increase the dosing the next time if the orchid is not thriving.

Step 3

Keep orchids by a sunny window facing south, if possible, so it receives both direct and indirect light. Move orchids away from the window during nights when temperatures reach freezing, especially if your windows are not well insulated. Temperatures near windows have the potential to be up to 20 degrees F cooler than other areas of the home.

Step 4

Place a tray of water and pebbles under potted orchids. This will provide some of the humidity orchids require to thrive. Mist the plant with a spray bottle and distilled water, which will leave no salt deposits like tap water.

Step 5

Repot orchids every two years. There are many types of soil that are used for orchids. Osmunda fiber or pine bark mixed with peat or perlite is common, as is pebbles mixed with bark. Fill the pot 2/3 with the potting soil and place the plant with the roots spread out on top. Fill the pot with the remaining soil until it is 2 inches below the rim. Pack it down tightly to remove any air pockets and give the roots a firm foundation.

Step 6

Care for your orchids outdoors. Plant your orchid where it will receive the correct amount of sunlight for its specific type, typically in full sun or partial shade. Also, use a soil that is best suited for orchids. However, most orchids do best indoors or in greenhouses. Some orchids, like cattleyas can grow outdoors in warm climates. Do not plant tropical orchids in your garden in areas that are not tropical or subtropical climates.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Soil
  • Fertilizer


  • The University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences
Keywords: orchids water, orchids fertilizer, orchids soil

About this Author

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Photo by: George Bosela: