Taking Care of an Orchid

Overview

Orchid flowers look delicate, giving the impression they are difficult to grow. Do not let the looks intimidate you. Taking care of an orchid is similar to taking care of any other houseplant. The numerous different cultivars available--over 300,000--provide plenty of choices for any indoor environment. If you supply proper temperatures, humidity, water and light, the orchid plant will last for years for you to enjoy its distinctive blooms.

Step 1

Decide which type of orchid you want or identify what you already have. Choose a plant 5 to 7 years old, which is the age they begin to bloom. Orchids make attractive foliage plants, so consider the leaves as well as the flowers.

Step 2

Replant the orchid into a larger pot with drainage holes. Use a specialized soilless potting mix made for orchid growing. Orchids perform best when repotted once a year to renew the soil mix. Move to larger planters if the plant has become root-bound. You will know it is root-bound if the soil dries out quickly and the roots have grown to all of the pot edges.

Step 3

Place the potted orchid in a sunny location. Most orchids need at least 6 hours of light per day. Southern-facing windowsills work best. Be careful of drafts and too much hot, direct sunlight if you place the orchid close to the window. Cold air and too much sun can damage orchids.

Step 4

Orchids perform best with daytime temperature between 65 and 75 degrees F. Keep them cooler at night, as low as 55 degrees F. Avoid placing the planter close to heating vents because it will dry the air.

Step 5

Give your orchid water weekly as needed. The soil should dry between watering. Orchids are sensitive to overwatering. Allow excess water to drain out of the pot. A tray of gravel filled with water under the orchid's planter will provide humidity, which orchids need.

Step 6

Feed the plant with an orchid-specific fertilizer every other week. As an alternative, use a 20-20-20 fertilizer and add fish emulsion to boost nitrogen levels. Stop feeding the fish emulsion in the fall to promote better blooms.

Step 7

Remove any dead leaves, stems or diseased parts. Airflow improves disease resistance in orchids, so a small fan or open window will benefit the plant. Treat the orchid if pests attack it. Insecticidal soap will help with spider mites or mealybugs.

Things You'll Need

  • Planter
  • Potting mix
  • Gravel
  • Tray
  • Fertilizer

References

  • Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening; Fern Marshall Bradley, Barbara W. Ellis, Ellen Phillips; 2009
  • University of Illinois Extension: Growing Orchids
  • University of Wisconsin: Getting Started with Orchids
Keywords: orchid care, orchid flowers, houseplant care

About this Author

Kit Arbuckle is a freelance writer specializing in topics such as health, alternative medicine, beauty, senior care, pets and landscaping. She has training in landscaping and a certification in medicinal herbs from a botanical sanctuary.