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Orchids are among the most beautiful flowering houseplants, yet they also have a reputation for being difficult to care for. On the other hand, many common kinds are relatively simple to maintain. Even untrained gardeners may be able to make them flourish. There are hundreds of orchid species and hybrids, but phalaenopsis hybrids and dendrobium hybrids are the most prevalent genera. They’re both so beautiful that if you can’t decide which one is best for you, get them both.
There are approximately 25,000 types of orchids, but a few are suitable as home plants. Some people believe that orchids are notoriously difficult to cultivate.
However, understanding how to care for orchids is easier than you may expect for those of us who don’t have our greenhouse. Anyone, given the appropriate conditions, can make an orchid thrive.
Orchid Care at a Glance
Common name: Orchid, Moth Orchid
Scientific name: Phalaenopsis
Soil: Aerated, well-draining orchid soil mix
Light: Partial or Dappled Shade
Water: Enough to keep the soil lightly moist
Soil pH: Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Temperature and humidity: Standard household to high humidity
Propagation: By division
Safety: Toxic if consumed by pets or people
Containers: Needs excellent drainage in pots. Suitable for hanging baskets, Needs repotting every 2 to 3 years
Different Types of Orchid Plants
• Cattleya orchids: Cattleya orchids have a ruffled appearance and a rich, vanilla-like perfume, making them one of the most common orchids. Cattleya orchids, often known as corsage orchids, may reach a height of two feet.
• Phalaenopsis orchids: Although Phalaenopsis orchids, sometimes known as moth orchids, are hardy, they like high humidity and are especially vulnerable to cold temperatures.
• Paphiopedilum orchids: Paphiopedilum orchids are one of the most significant choices for beginning orchid gardeners since they require little care and thrive in various lighting situations.
• Dendrobium orchids: They thrive in high humidity but are prone to overwatering. Dendrobiums feature delicate, light-colored blooms ranging from purple to green, and their foliage is usually present all year.
• Cymbidium orchids: Cymbidium orchids, often known as boat orchids, are a robust species that thrive in the outdoors. This genus can withstand dry conditions, low temperatures, and light frost.
Related: How To Care For A Cymbidium Orchid
• Ludisia orchids: Only one species of Ludisia orchid grows on the forest floor in Southern China and Southeast Asia. Ludisia orchids, often known as jewel orchids because of their brilliant leaves, are excellent houseplants since they grow in shadow and require little care.
• Zygopetalum orchids: The waxy texture and rich aroma of Zygopetalum orchid blossoms are endemic to South America.
Orchid Care For Beginners
Orchids should be planted in well-draining soil. It is suggested that you use a moss or bark-based potting mix. Depending on whatever orchid you choose, you’ll need to take different steps to care for it. You’ll have to water your orchid more often since the bark-based mix allows water to drain quickly. You may go longer between waterings since the moss mix stores more water.
Your orchid should be put in a container with lots of drainage.
Drainage holes should be present at the bottom of the pot to guarantee that any surplus water drains entirely. If your orchid arrives in a pot that does not contain this function, you will need to report it.
Orchids demand temperatures that are 10 degrees cooler at night than during the day. Orchids thrive in temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 24 degrees Celsius). These mild temperatures and some air movement will help your orchid produce large, gorgeous blossoms.
The majority of orchids require a lot of light, preferably at least six hours every day. Many orchids can tolerate more or less light than is advised, although more light increases blooming potential. On the other hand, insufficient sunlight stops orchids from blossoming, though they will grow.
Not sure of the difference between direct and indirect light?
If you place your hand between your plant and the light; and if you feel the heat of the sun on your skin, or if the shadow your hand casts has sharp, hard edges, your plant is indirect light, which is just too extreme for most indoor house plants. If the shadow is soft, that placement has indirect light, and most likely your houseplants are going to be happy there.
Water and Humidity
In the winter, water once a week and twice a week when the weather is hot and dry. Water a 6-inch plant every seven days, but a 4-inch pot needs water every five to six days. The recommended daily humidity for orchids is between 50 and 70 percent. Plants in a tray filled with stones and water can help increase humidity when the days are dehydrated throughout the summer.
It is tough to propagate orchids from seed. Orchid seeds, unlike other plant seeds, lack nutrient storage tissues. To grow, the seed must locate a particular type of fungus that can enter its root system and transform nutrients into a useable form.
Working in sterile conditions is required for propagating orchids from seed. The seeds must be cultivated in a gelatinous medium containing nutrients and growth hormones.
You must also be very patient. The initial leaves take months to emerge, and even then, they are only visible with a magnifying lens. Even later, roots emerge. It will take at least three years and maybe up to eight years before you see a bloom.
Orchids may be propagated much more quickly through division. However, consider that splitting a plant means foregoing flowers for at least a year. In addition, the larger the orchid plant, the more blossoms it produces. Minor divisions require a long time to develop.
Potting/Repotting Orchid Plants
Orchids thrive best in tiny containers. Every year, specific orchids should be repotted.
Others may be content in the same pot for seven years or more. As a general guideline, only repot your orchid if essential.
Orchids dislike being bothered.
Repot if the growing media has begun to break down, reducing aeration; if the roots have spread far outside the pot; or if new growth has imbalanced the plant.
When It’s Time for Your Orchid to Bloom Again
You’ll see something that looks like a root coming from the medium when your orchid is poised to rebloom. The growth’s tip will resemble a mitten.
If it’s a root, your new growth will remain in its spherical form. While the spike may need to be supported with a stake as it grows, be sure it’s completed growing before clipping the stem to the stake.
Pest and Diseases for Orchid Plants
When cultivated indoors under the proper climatic conditions, orchids are a trouble-free supply of stunning blossoms. Unfortunately, aphids, mealybugs, scales, two-spotted spider mites, and thrips are all parasites of orchids.
Aphids are found on a wide variety of plants. These soft-bodied insects can spread illness and harm leaves, new shoots, and flowers. Scale is harder to see but is recognized as bumps on the stems and other plant parts.
Yellowing and leaf drop are symptoms of severe infestations. Mealybugs are soft, cottony insects that live in the leaf axils. Symptoms are comparable to a scale. Thrips are nearly invisible and deform leaves and blossoms, whereas whiteflies look exactly like their name implies and attack all growth. Spider mites are also tiny, but their webs can be seen on the plant.
Orchid Plant Diseases
Black rot is a fungal disease that develops on orchids when standing water. The fungal spores must swim through water before sprouting mycelium and fruiting. Dark black patches grow on the leaves and swiftly spread throughout the plant if left untreated. Avoid spraying water on your plants and use a sterilized knife to chop off any contaminated parts.
Several species can cause leaf spots. Good hygiene, air circulation, and avoiding wetness on the leaves can all aid in the prevention of orchid plant illnesses.
Other common orchid plant diseases include bacterial soft and brown rots. The disease thrives in hot, humid environments and is disseminated by spraying plants. Water-soaked regions appear on the leaves, frequently with yellow halo effects. The illness quickly spreads to the roots and pseudobulb. The decaying portions may emit a foul odor. To remove infectious material, use sterile instruments. Because the virus can spread fast, spray hydrogen peroxide on the plant and any nearby plants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are they toxic to pets?
Orchids are one of the least irritating plants to keep about the house, even if your dog or cat tries to bite. Many people still say that Kitty will be poisoned if she eats a lovely orchid. While it’s never a good idea to let your cat munch on most plants, these orchids (also known as Moth Orchids) are safe for both cats and dogs.
Are they Perennials?
Are orchids evergreen? This, like so many other orchid-related questions, is dependent on the species you are raising. On the other hand, the majority of orchids are permanent epiphytes that grow attached to trees and bushes. The vast majority favor tropical and subtropical climates.
How fast do they grow?
After seeing the buds, it might take anywhere from a month to a year for a new flower spike to form. Their development is generally moderate; however, different types need 1 to 3 months to open blooms. After flowering, specific orchids may take longer to produce a new spike.
Can they grow outside?
The majority of orchids are air plants, which means they live in trees. To live, they require enough air circulation and drainage around their roots. As a result, they cannot be planted in the ground. You may, however, hang them on your backyard trees instead.
How long can orchid plants live?
Orchid plants do not have a set lifespan; however, they naturally decrease and produce fewer flowers after 15 to 20 years. Plants have a natural immune system worn down over time by bacteria and fungus in the environment. Repot orchids every two or three years to avoid sickness.
Orchids are stunningly gorgeous, delicate, long-blooming, long-lived, attractive aroma and form, and incredibly diverse. Even today, the Chinese employ orchids for therapeutic reasons, most often in a medicinal tea.
Dried dendrobium is said to have therapeutic characteristics that can aid in the treatment of cancer, enhance the immune system, and improve vision.
Unlike other plants and animals, Orchids may generate hybrids between species and between related genera. This allows for a mind-boggling number of combinations and explains why most orchids have such complicated names.