With over 25,000 species, orchids encompass an incredibly diverse range of flowering plants known for their elegant blooms and intricate beauty. As increasingly popular houseplants, orchids add a touch of nature to any space when correctly cared for.
However, their delicate flowers and specialized needs can intimidate new growers. By understanding a few core guidelines for water, light, humidity, and more, anyone can keep an orchid thriving for a long time.
The Allure of Orchids
Orchid flowers have captivated people across cultures for centuries with their mystical quality and diversity of colors, shapes, and scents.
The Victorians associated orchids with luxury, rarity, and perfection. Today, vibrant hybrids make orchids more accessible to grow but retain an air of exotic sophistication.
The breathtaking blooms make orchids a popular centerpiece and gift for special occasions, weddings, religious ceremonies, and more across many cultures.
Caring for Orchid Flowers: Step-by-Step Guide
To care for orchids successfully, following key guidelines while considering their needs is necessary. Use this orchard maintenance guide to understand the basics:
Providing the Right Light
- East or south-facing windows
- Bright, indirect sunlight
- Use sheer curtains to filter
Orchids thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. The ideal location is a south or east-facing window where they will receive 12-14 hours of daylight daily.
This bright light prevents the plant from failing to bloom. Using a sheer curtain to filter the light can prevent the sun from scorching the leaves.
Check the leaves to determine if the plant needs more or less light - dark green leaves indicate insufficient sunlight, while red, yellow, or browned leaves signal too much light. Adjust the orchid's location accordingly.
Watering Orchids Properly
- Once weekly, allowing to dry
- Soak pot completely
- Ensure proper drainage
Orchids prefer a wet/dry watering routine. Water thoroughly once a week, allowing the potting media to nearly dry out between waterings. Soak the pot thoroughly until water drains from the bottom, then let all excess water drain away.
Providing the Right Temperature
- 65-80°F ideal for most
- Protect from hot/cold drafts
Most household temperatures between 65-80° Fahrenheit suit orchids well. Make sure the plant is protected from drafts from heating/cooling vents, windows, and doors.
Move potted orchids to a warmer or cooler spot in the house through the seasons to maintain an optimal temperature range. Use a fan to improve air circulation around the orchid on extremely hot days.
Increasing Humidity for Orchids
- 40-60% humidity recommended
- Mist leaves
Orchids prefer 40-60% ambient humidity, higher than most indoor environments provide. Grouping orchid plants increases local moisture through transpiration. Mist the plant's leaves and air surrounding the orchids frequently to supplement humidity.
- Orchids need fertilizer when flowering.
- Use a balanced, water-soluble orchid fertilizer.
- Apply fertilizer every 1-2 weeks during active growth.
Orchids need fertilizer while flowering. Use a balanced, water-soluble orchid fertilizer every 1-2 weeks during active growth. When the flower matures, switch to fertilizing once a month and stop when the plant goes dormant. Over-fertilization can burn plant tissues and roots, so more diluted applications applied less frequently are safest.
Best Soil for Orchids
- Orchids grow best in airy, fast-draining soil mixes.
- Young plants need more moisture-retentive soil.
- Orchids grow best in airy, fast-draining soil mixes rather than actual soil. Create a customized
blend tailored to your orchid variety using bark chunks, sphagnum moss, perlite, and charcoal. Focus on porous, long-lasting ingredients that mimic the air and moisture flow orchids experience clinging to rainforest trees. With a well-draining yet moisture-retentive base, orchids readily flourish.
- Repot orchids every 2-3 years.
- Carefully remove the roots.
If your well-cared-for orchid stops blooming, it likely needs repotting. Do this every 2-3 years to prevent root rot and give roots room. Take the orchid out of its current pot and inspect root growth. Soak the roots and Trim any dead or rotten parts. Select a potting mix suited to your orchid type. Make sure the pot size allows ample room for root growth but is not overwhelmingly large.
- Remove dead roots/leaves
- Cut back old flower spikes
- Promotes healthy new growth
Pruning orchids depends on the variety. Moth orchids (phalaenopsis) can be pruned once the flowers drop by cutting the spike above the node where the first bloom appeared. This encourages new spikes and blooms. But dendrobiums should not have their spikes cut at all – leave the bare stems be, and they will often rebloom the following season.
It's best to remove dead flowers as they fade, and dying or dead stems and roots can be pruned out at repotting time to improve health. So research your specific orchid variety before snipping stems, as approaches differ.
Consistency is key for thriving orchids. These plants bloom spectacularly year after year when properly cared for. Tailor a routine catered to your specific orchid variety and growing environment.
Caring for Orchids After Flowering
Orchid care changes slightly after flowering. As blooms fade, plants enter a rest period. Use this time to promote new growth:
- Cut flower spikes back to the base to promote reblooming.
- After the orchid blooms fall off, repot your plant into a more suited container with a light, porous
growing medium and a pot that makes room for good airflow, such as unglazed clay or a pot specially designed for orchids with holes in its sides.
Orchid Care Indoors: Creating the Ideal Environment
While adapting orchid care to indoor spaces, strive to recreate the warm, humid environments in which these tropical plants thrive.
- South-facing windows optimal
- Supplement with grow lights
- Gentle air circulation prevents disease.
- 65-80° F ideal; avoid drafts
- Cooler at night aids flowering
- 40-60% ideal
- Group plants together
- Use humidity trays
- Mist leaves regularly
Provide the highest light levels possible without scorching leaves.
Water more frequently in warmer, drier indoor areas, letting the potting mix dry slightly between waterings.
Monitor new growth and flowering to assess if conditions nurture your orchid's unique needs.
Types of orchids and their maintenance differences
With over 30,000 wild species and 100,000 registered hybrids, orchids come in an astounding variety. Knowing the significant groups will help you correctly pick and care for the right plants. Some of the most popular options include:
- Cattleya orchids - Among the most popular orchids, Cattleyas are known for their ruffled, fragrant flowers. They can grow quite large.
- Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) - Hardy and long-blooming, these orchids need high humidity and dislike cold. They originate in tropical Asia and Australia.
- Lady slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum) - Friendly for beginners, lady slippers thrive under most light conditions with modest care. They have pouch-shaped flowers.
- Dendrobium orchids - Often epiphytic, Dendrobiums prefer high humidity, but their delicate blooms are prone to rot from overwatering. Foliage lasts much of the year.
- Dancing lady orchids (Oncidium) - Named for their graceful flowers, Oncidiums hail from the Americas. The famous Sharry Baby has a chocolate scent. They need specialized care.
- Vanda orchids - Growing on trees and rocks, tropical Asian Vandas bloom repeatedly when happy. They are epiphytes that get nutrients from water and air.
- Boat orchids (Cymbidium) - Tougher than many orchids, Cymbidiums thrive outdoors in some climates. They have round pseudobulbs and long, strappy leaves.
- Lycaste orchids - Round pseudobulbs and broad leaves distinguish this genus. One white-flowered species is Guatemala's national flower.
- Zygo orchids (Zygopetalum) - Shared traits like waxy blooms place Zygopetalums with others in the broad Epidendroideae subfamily—most hail from South America.
- Cycnoches orchids - An oddity among orchids is that Cycnoches species have both male and female flower parts on the same plant.
- Butterfly orchids (Encyclia) - Nicknamed for their wing-like flowers, Encyclias bloom for months. The Tampa butterfly orchid is a famous example.
- Jewel orchids (Ludisia) - Grown for their spectacular foliage, Ludisias need little care besides shade. The single species thrives on Asian forest floors.
Purple Orchid Flower Maintenance and Care
Purple orchids bring exotic splendor indoors. Though rewarding, orchids demand diligent care to flower year after year.
Master these techniques to grow thriving, floriferous plants.
- Temperatures - Daytime highs around 23°C, nighttime lows around 18°C
- Humidity - Consistently high moisture levels
- Light - Bright but gentle, diffuse illumination
- Soil - Specialized mixes, often pine bark-based
- Water - Regular applications of warm, soft water
- Fertilizer - Monthly between bloom cycles
Orchids neither forgive mistakes nor thrive on neglect. Any grower can achieve glorious results by attentively understanding and tending to purple orchids' needs.
Troubleshooting: Dealing with Orchid Flower Issues
Orchids are susceptible to various infections, pests, and environmental stresses. Catching problems early allows growers to take corrective action before extensive damage occurs. Watch for these critical afflictions:
Dehydration: Shriveled, wrinkled leaves and droopy blooms indicate insufficient watering. Check roots and increase the watering frequency if healthy or report if rotted.
Overwatering: Wet, compacted media can cause root and crown rot. Allow more drying time before watering and improve drainage/air circulation when repotting.
Bacterial infections: Water-soaked spots enlarge to black lesions (black rot) or black-veined flowers (botrytis). Prune out infections, treat with bactericides, and increase airflow.
Fungal diseases: Leaf spots, powdery mildew, and root/crown rot caused by fungi thrive in stagnant air and overly wet media. Improve air circulation and water carefully and apply fungicides.
Viral infections: Leaves with color-breaking stripes or patterns indicate conditions by orchid viruses transmitted by sap-sucking pests. Control vectors, destroy affected plants, and disinfect tools.
Nutrient deficiencies: Yellowing older leaves may indicate insufficient nitrogen. Purple leaf undersides can signal a lack of phosphorus. Apply balanced fertilizer more regularly at lower dosages.
Environmental stress: Drought and extremes in temperature, light, or humidity can all trigger bud blasts and hamper growth. Adequately shade plants and shield from drafts and vented heat/AC.
Insect infestations: Common orchid pests like mites, scale, mealybugs, and aphids cause stippling, speckling, foliage distortions, or worse. Apply insecticidal soaps, oils, or other remedies.
Careful observation and prompt care help maintain orchid health. When in doubt, isolate affected plants to limit the spread of infections.
With attentive growing practices, most orchids can bounce back from problems before sustaining permanent damage.
By tailoring a few critical aspects of care to your growing conditions and orchid variety, you can enjoy these exotic beauties for years.
With attentive maintenance centering consistent moisture, indirect sunlight, and humidity control, orchids readily flourish into breathtaking botanical wonders.
Identify and address cultural issues promptly to maintain the health and beauty of these captivating blooms. Anyone can cultivate flowering success with a basic understanding of orchids' preferences.