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How to Care for a Potted Orchid

The orchid family of perennial flowering plants is vast with more than 100,000 known species. Commonly thought of as finicky to grow and care for, most commercially available orchids today can be maintained and even helped to rebloom in the home by novice gardeners. Orchids must have an environment with bright indirect light, moderate temperatures, ample water and humidity and a regular feeding regimen. When basic needs are well met, orchids are long-lived and low-maintenance plants with dramatic blooms and decorative appeal.

Place your orchid in a growing location where it will receive bright indirect sunlight daily. Eastern, western or southern exposures are preferred as northern exposures rarely deliver enough light to induce rebloom. Direct sunlight can be tolerated if it is morning or late-afternoon sun. Orchids should never be exposed to direct midday sun because the light can burn the plants, rapidly dehydrate them and raise temperatures to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more, which is dangerous for the plant. When the orchid is in bloom you can place it in a lower light location to extend the bloom life.

Water your orchid once a week by running the pot under a gentle flowing faucet of tepid water. Drench the potting medium and plant roots allowing all of the water to drain through the pot before placing it back into its decorative container or tray. Allow the orchid-planting medium to dry out between waterings to prevent rot or disease. Over time, you will learn when the pot feels light in weight and is in need of water.

Provide ambient humidity for your orchids by daily misting with clean water from a spray-mist bottle. Alternatively, assemble an passive humidity tray from a shallow saucer filled with pebbles and water. Set the orchid pot atop the pebbles so that the plant can have benefit of the increased humidity refilling the water as it evaporates.

Feed your orchid once a month with a chrystalized orchid food dissolved in tepid water according to the label dosing directions. Pour the solution over the premoistened potting medium and roots allowing the excess to drain away.

Replace the growing medium around your orchid each year with fresh orchid bark or orchid soil mix. Every few years transplant the orchid into a larger pot that is 2 to 4 inches in diameter larger than the current pot. Some very light compaction of orchid roots in a pot benefits flowering but root-bound orchids do not perform well so never transplant to a smaller pot.

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