Tips for Growing Orchids

Orchids require care to grow but are worth the effort.

Orchids require care to grow but are worth the effort.

You can grow orchids as a potted houseplant, but they require considerable time and care to flourish. Generally, orchids need warmer temperatures, humidity and sunlight to bloom. Growing conditions for different types of orchids can vary as well. Research several kinds so that you can choose a species that will be suited to your home environment. Some varieties of orchids bloom twice a year, and healthy orchid blooms often last for two or three months.

Watering

Although orchids are native to tropical rainforests, watering the plants too frequently will kill the roots. Most orchids need watering every five to 12 days depending on the type. The air temperature and season of year affect the watering requirements as well. Orchids need more water when the days are longer and warmer. Wrinkled leaves are a sign that an orchid plant needs more water. The roots of an orchid that is receiving adequate water will be firm, white and fleshy. When an orchid plant gets too much water, the roots become soggy and brown. Allow orchid roots to dry between watering.

Fertilizing

Use a water-soluble fertilizer that is specially formulated for orchids. As a general rule, you should fertilize orchids once each month. Fertilizing orchid plants too often can burn the leaves and roots and prevent flowering. Not fertilizing the plants enough can also prevent flowering by stunting the orchid’s growth. Orchids that need less light to bloom require less fertilizer. Over-fertilizing an orchid will cause the tips of the leaves to shrivel. Too much salt can also kill an orchid, but you can prevent salt buildup by flushing the plant’s pot with plain water from time to time.

Lighting

Proper lighting is essential for an orchid to bloom. An orchid’s leaf color is usually a guide as to whether the plant is getting enough light. Normally, the leaves of an orchid plant are a bright green color. If the leaves are dark green, the plant may not be getting adequate light. An orchid that has reddish-green leaves is probably getting too much light. Spots on the leaves are another sign that the plant is getting more light than it needs. Place orchids further back from the window, or set the pot in a window facing east or north. Place potted orchids that need more light in a window that faces south or west. Most orchids do well in bright light but still need to be protected from direct sunlight on longer, hotter days.

Temperature

The best environment for most orchids is one with daytime temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime temperatures should range between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Some types of orchids will not bloom if the air temperature remains the same from daytime to nighttime. Orchids that usually grow well in warmer temperatures can survive for a short time in cooler temperatures if you water them less. Likewise, orchids that aren’t normally exposed to hot weather will need more water.

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