How to Grow Orchids: A Brief & Care Guide
General Orchid Care
While orchids look beautiful, their tall slender stem and large bloom may be intimidating to owners without green thumbs. And while you may have heard that the orchids are difficult to grow, the rumor is false. Orchids are relatively simple to grow indoors, you’ll just need to pay attention to location and water levels more carefully than with other indoor plants.
Orchids need plenty of indirect sunlight while in the growing season. The perfect place for growing orchids is a south-facing windowsill, where the plant will receive indirect sunlight without getting too hot. Leaving an orchid too close to a hot window could cook the plant and impact the color on leaves.
Unlike other plants that prefer dense organic potting soil, orchids prefer a rougher mix that is airier and lighter. Look for a potting mix specifically intended for orchids, or use large chunks of bark to help anchor the plant’s rhizome (root-like) portion in the pot.
Orchids thrive with brief dry spells between watering, so only water the plant with the potting mix is dry to the touch about 1 inch down. Avoid adding too much water- an orchid in standing water may develop root-rot and cause the plant to die altogether. If you are concerned about over-watering, consider adding an ice cube (or two) to the soil every day or so.
While orchids can’t stand too much water, they love high humidity, as they are naturally found in the rain forest. In fact, orchids thrive in areas between 40 to 70 percent humidity. Since most homes only have about a 35 percent humidity, you’ll need to increase the humidity directly around the plant. Do this by misting the soil or leaves only of the plant — avoid getting water on the bloom — or set the plant on a tray of water or near other potted plants. You can also move the plant to a hot and steamy bathroom from time to time, but don’t sacrifice the amount of light the plant gets, more than anything else orchids need plenty of light.
Help the plant grow best by placing a stake near the stem as the stem lengthens and grows. Gently secure the stem to the stake with raffia or soft twine, about every 2 to 4 inches. Sometimes florists also use tiny hair clips to hold the stem to the stake. The added strength of the stake ensures that the slender stem doesn’t break under the strain of a massive bloom.
Video on Growing Orchids Indoors
Once your bloom is spent, you can take one of three options:
- Wait and see
- Cut to encourage new growth
- Cut to encourage blooming next year
What happens next in the life of your orchid depends on the type it is, and how well it has been taken care of before withering away. Some orchids grow annually, while some may bloom several times a year.
Check out the brief video for information on when and where to cut your orchid flower stem.
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