Orchids are easy to grow in the home or greenhouse once you know the general requirements for the type of orchids you want to grow. Some species are highly adaptable to varying lighting, water and temperature conditions. Observing their growth regularly is the best way to diagnose potential problems that lead to lack of flowering or blemishes on the foliage.
Low-light orchids like Paphiopedilum and Phalaenopsis will burn in the sun. Medium-light orchids may like morning sun or reflected light from water or rocks. High-light orchids usually prefer light shade to full sun. If a high-light orchid like a cattleya does not get enough light, it may still grow but not flower.
Too much water is a common problem in orchid culture. Most orchid roots need oxygen to reach the root system or they will quickly rot and die. This starves the plant for water and shows up as signs of being underwatered. For orchids that have severe root damage, repotting with a fresh mix might be required.
Dead patches on leaf tips and buds that dry up before opening are an indication of cold or rapidly fluctuating temperatures. Keep your plants away from drafty doors and windows. Many species require a specific night temperature or day-to-night temperature variance in order to set flower buds.
Orchids prefer a stable humidity that is close to what they would get in their native habitat. For plants from tropical areas, this can be above 75 percent. Rapid fluctuations in humidity or a too-low humidity will result in pitted leaves and possible leaf tips drying out. Stable humidity is a must for proper flower bud development in many species.
Orchids are susceptible to fungal rot and bacterial infection if there is not proper air movement or the potting mix remains too wet. Often it is difficult to revive a badly infected plant. Insects such as scale, mealy bugs and aphids will eat the tender flower buds and stick to the undersides of leaves. Many commercial insecticidal soaps made for orchids can eliminate or keep these pests under control.