People know a good thing when they see it – and that’s why orchids have quickly become one of the most popular house plants. There are so many different species and hybrids that a would-be orchid gardener would have very little trouble finding just the right orchid to raise.
Given the proper amount of water and fertilizer, plus the proper amount and intensity of light, orchids are no harder to grow than many other indoor plants. Even though orchids are tropical plants, not all of them require an especially warm environment.
Some orchids enjoy a cool home environment, while some can take the heat up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important for the would-be orchid horticulturist to do a little research before buying that first orchid plant.
- Which is a good species for a new orchid gardener to choose? One of the easiest orchids is the Phalaenopsis. This plant can be happy in your home or in an office environment.
- How long will my orchid bloom? Each kind has its own flowering season. Phalaenopsis is a good choice again, because from the opening of its first bud, it can be in continuous bloom for a whole season, or about three months. By contrast, the large and showy Cattleya orchid might bloom for up to a month after that first bud opens.
- How often can I expect blossoms from my orchid? Some species will bloom only once per year. Others will bloom several times in the same year; and some ambitious species can bloom year-round. It all depends on their programmed blossoming pattern, plus their environment and the care they receive.
Fragrance is an important element that helps make orchids so popular. Orchids can have familiar smells, like raspberry, lilac, citrus, coconut or even chocolate. More commonly, though, orchids will smell flowery, or even fruity. As with many flowers, the scent can vary widely. It can be very powerful or very delicate.
When choosing an orchid for your space, take into account the size of your space and how the scent will work within it. A powerfully scented orchid in a tiny apartment might be an interesting novelty for a little while, but the charm may fade quickly.
Unlike most other plants, orchids should not be planted in potting soil. This soil prevents air circulation at the roots, which orchids need, and it prevents adequate water drainage. Orchids will do best when planted in bark or sphagnum moss. Always choose a pot with very good drainage, since too much water will kill an orchid very quickly.
Water your orchid sparingly, no more than once or twice a week. Be sure to consult an expert, such as the owner of the store or nursery where you are buying your orchid. The plant may need a bit more water in the heat of the summer.
When the weather turns colder, give your orchid proportionately less water. Also, if you have planted your orchid in New Zealand sphagnum moss, water it less frequently than an orchid that is planted in bark. The moss drains more slowly than the bark. Water these plants every seven to ten days.
Most orchids prefer lots of light, but not strong light or direct midday sun. Remember that orchids are a tropical plant, and in nature they grow on the rainforest floor or on the bark of trees. There are specific patterns of shade and light, but there’s rarely direct sun. Try to recreate their natural environment as closely as possible.
If your orchid’s leaves start to turn yellow, the plant is probably getting too much light. Try giving it more shade. Yellowing leaves may also indicate a lack of nutrition, so be sure to fertilize your orchid every two weeks or so. If the potting material is dry, water the orchid before fertilizing.
Caring for orchids takes a bit more attention than your basic African Violet, but the effort is well worth it. With just a few tweaks to your houseplant care routine, you can have healthy, vibrant orchids for years to come.