Orchids are beautiful flowering plants that belong to the Orchidaceae family, famous for their often bright, colourful and scented blooms. They grow on every continent, except for Antarctica, and around 70% of them tend to grow on trees or other plants with their roots floating in the air.
Orchids tend to have a reputation that they are difficult to maintain; the reason for this is that they have a few specific requirements in order to thrive. But that’s about as daunting as it gets, don’t worry! There are plenty of varieties that are super options as house plants. With a little bit of guidance and the right supplies, you are sure to become incredible orchid parents.
But there are so many varieties, how do I know I am caring for them correctly? True, it can be overwhelming as there are over 800 types of orchids. However, if you visit your local nursery, you are likely to find fewer than a dozen species. And most of them will be hybrids, so don’t worry, you are sure to be equipped with the knowledge you need, just keep reading!
There are a few fundamental things you need to know about orchid care to get started:
- Orchids are low-water plants; this means that they do not require watering every single day. In fact, it is quite easy to overwater them. Most orchids only need to be watered once a week; more than that could cause damage to their roots.
- The positioning of the orchid in the home is very important. If you have a well-lit window that is facing east or west then you are golden. Make sure it does have some cover though, as its leaves could be burned or damaged when the sun is at its hottest.
- If you notice that your orchid stops blooming, the best thing to do is to re-pot it with a fresh orchid mix, like this. Another trick to get it growing again is to spray them with rainwater; using this nifty mister is a great way to get those leaves growing again.
- Along with their weekly watering, orchids need to also be fed with fertiliser that is specifically for orchids.
Okay, now that we have covered the basics, we can get into a bit more detail about orchid care.
How exactly should I water my Orchid?
Like all plants, orchids do need water to survive. An earth-shattering reveal, I am sure! The tricky thing with orchids though is that amount of water inevitably varies, depending on the type of mix it is in, the season, the environment and of course the type of orchid itself. Do not allow yourself to be frightened away. However, there are some handy routines that you can establish so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. As mentioned above, orchids should be watered approximately once a week; to be specific, about once every 7 days in summer, and about once every 10 days in winter. The reason for this is that, like most things, orchids tend to dry out quicker in the heat than in the cool. Be liberal with the amount of water, though do be careful not to drown them, as overwatering could lead to disaster. Tepid water poured in early in the morning is ideal, as it’ll allow it to dry during the day, preventing rotting at night. If you are using tap water, it’s a good idea to let it stand overnight to get rid of toxins that could also damage the roots.
In what environment do Orchids thrive?
As mentioned above, an eastern or western-facing window is best as it’ll provide the orchid with just the right amount of sunlight. Unlike geraniums or hibiscus, orchids do not require direct bright sunlight to thrive. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can just stick them in the middle of a room, away from sunlight altogether. Temperature is also a factor, depending on the species of orchid that you own. Some orchids grow in warmer temps whilst others thrive in cooler, however, generally speaking, most will do well in conditions that are neither boiling hot nor freezing cold. Orchids also like humidity, so humidity trays are often used. But be careful not to overwhelm them in that respect, as too much humidity will make the roots rot. Like most things in life, balance is key.
How do I re-pot an Orchid? How do I know when to re-pot it?
As a general rule, orchids should be re-potted every year or so, or when they have grown a lot and the roots start to come out of the pot. It can be scary, especially as a first-time carer, to be faced with a re-potting. But it doesn’t have to be; all you need is a little guidance and a positive attitude. The first thing that needs to be done is to remove the orchid from its pot. You do this by gently loosening the rootball, using a dull knife down and around the inside if you are having trouble. Once it is out of the pot, check the roots; if they are dry, soak them in water to soften them up. Then try and untangle the roots as much as possible, trimming any black or hollow ones. When they are untangled, give them a good rinse to get rid of any compost or soil. Then place the orchid in its new pot, pour in a fresh orchid mix and liberally water it.
What sort of fertiliser should I use?
This one is pretty simple really; there are fertilisers that are specifically for orchids so when you are orchid-care shopping keep your eye out for them. Orchids do not need a lot of fertiliser to grow and they also don’t need to be fertilized too often. Veteran orchid growers recommend fertilising “weakly, weekly”, which essentially means you need to dilute your fertiliser before feeding it to your orchid. That way the plant isn’t too overwhelmed. If you feel your orchid needs some extra nutrition, you could use our orchid nutrition spikes.
Does it matter what pots I use?
The key to healthy orchids is healthy roots one of the ways to achieve that is to be very careful when choosing a pot. Clear pots are the best option for orchids, as you can see whether the roots are thriving or dying. With clear pots, you can also see when they need to be watered as well which makes caring for them a lot less stressful. Small, shallow pots are better as orchid roots spread out not down.
Let’s wrap it up
Orchids are stunning plants that are sure to brighten your home; they are well worth the few extra steps it takes to look after them. As mentioned above, caring for orchids doesn’t have to be daunting or complicated. All that is needed is knowing where to start and once you have that it’s all about establishing a routine.
After reading this, you are halfway there; step into the world of orchid care with confidence.