Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Save an Orchid Plant

By Kelsey Erin Shipman ; Updated September 21, 2017
For best results, research your exact type of orchid.

In their 120-million-year history, orchid plants have evolved into enormously diverse shapes, colors, sizes and scents. They are known to grow in bright light as well as deep canopy shade, and they grow across the globe. Once considered an aphrodisiac and used in love potions, orchids produce rich fragrances to attract a variety of insects in order to reproduce. Some flowers smell like coconut and attract several species of bees, while others emit the scent of rotting flesh to lure flies. These exotic flowers are so spectacular that they deserve extra effort to save.

Adjust the light your orchid plant receives. Look closely at the leaves, and notice their color and texture. Blue-green, soft leaves indicate a lack of sufficient light, while a bleached yellow color indicates too much direct light. Most orchids require varying degrees of indirect light and do well on windows, balconies and shaded porches.

Keep a thermometer near your plants, and check the temperature range from day to night.

Monitor the temperature range between night and day. If night time temperatures are too high, orchids will metabolize the food made through photosynthesis during the day and lack energy to bloom or produce new growth. Orchids require a difference of 10 degrees and have specific growing conditions, depending on the species. Warm growing orchids such as vandas prefer a range of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, while cool growing orchids such as cymbidiums do best with daytime highs below 75 degrees.

Reconsider the amount of water your orchid plant needs. Orchids rely heavily on their root systems, which overwatering can compromise by causing root rot. To adequately water most varieties, push your finger 1 inch into the soil and check for moisture. If the soil feels dry, flush the soil with tepid water and allow to drain out of the bottom of the pot.

Fertilize your orchid each week with orchid-specific formula at one-quarter strength. This provides consistent food for your orchid and promotes constant growth. During winter, orchids need about half the amount of fertilizer required during spring and summer.

Orchids prefer a relative humidity of 50 percent.

Increase the humidity around your orchid plants. Add a humidifier or a tray of water near your plants; aim to keep the relative humidity at 50 percent. Group plants closely together in order to create a humid microclimate.

Provide adequate air circulation by placing your orchid by a window or installing a small fan. Many orchids grow high in treetops and do best with a constant breeze. Ample air circulation reduces the risk of fungal diseases and helps keep plants cool in hot weather.


Things You Will Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Humidifier
  • Thermometer
  • Fan


  • Use filtered or distilled water to hydrate your orchids and prevent a buildup of salts.
  • Regularly mist leaves with distilled water to remove dust and discourage insects.