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Caring for an Orchid - . Fragile. Elegant. Exotic.

Updated on May 3, 2015
Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell is a freelance writer with WriterAccess, webmaster, member of Pinterest Party on FB and the owner of Lake Erie Artist Gallery.

How to care for orchids

For many, the sheer nature and beauty of an orchid scares them away from the idea of having an orchid as a houseplant.

Orchids are one of the largest plant families and the many varieties make for some very fussy plants. But the truth is that there are some beautiful and common varieties of this tropic wonder that you can care for in your own home. Orchid care is a lot easier than you think.

As old as 150 years

How to pick out the right orchid

Here's what you should look for in a healthy orchid

Firm, strong, waxy, green leaves:

Healthy leaves = healthy blooms

If you see root, it should be plump and firm, not scored

Blooms: so you can see what you're getting, they should be smooth, never brown or wilting

Buds: the promise of fresh blooms is always a perk, try to find one that has lots of little buds for blossoms to come

Orchid madness

The leaves were blackish green and the flower itself was glossy yellow, the yellow of a newly waxed taxi, and it was spattered with hundreds and hundreds of burgundy flecks. The flecks were slightly ovoid, and they were clustered in curving rows so that they looked as if they had been painted on as the flower spun around. Staring at the pattern of the flecks was dizzying. Staring at it for a long time was hypnotizing.

The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

Orchidelirium is the name the Victorians gave to the flower madness that is for botanical collectors the equivalent of gold fever. Wealthy orchid fanatics of that era sent explorers (heavily armed, more to protect themselves against other orchid seekers than against hostile natives or wild animals) to unmapped territories in search of new varieties of Cattleya and Paphiopedilum. As knowledge of the family Orchidaceae grew to encompass the currently more than 60,000 species and over 100,000 hybrids, orchidelirium might have been expected to go the way of Dutch tulip mania. Yet, as journalist Susan Orlean found out, there still exists a vein of orchid madness strong enough to inspire larceny among collectors.


Caring for orchids at home

From their habitat, you would think that the orchid would not thrive indoors, or where it is not constantly hot. But the fact is that most orchids love the interior temperature of most homes.

Orchids love sunlight, as like any other plant, they grab their energy from the sun's rays. With plenty of sunlight, your orchid will have enough energy to support its beautiful blooms for many months. They do best in a southernly facing window where they can sun themselves indirectly in the morning and afternoon. The window should not be drafty.

Although tropical plants, it is a good idea to let the orchids cool down at night, as this helps the plant restore and preserve its long lasting blooms. The biggest problem people have is over watering their orchid.

Most orchid roots in nature are exposed to air, when over-watering occurs, the roots suffocate and start to rot. The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure your soil is a bark variety that allows for good drainage.

You should only water your orchid once a week. You can judge when you need to water it by picking up the plant to see how heavy it is. If it feels light, touch the soil with your fingertips; it should be moist but not soppy.

You don't want any standing water in your pot. You'll soon get into a routine with your orchid, and you'll notice that it's a lot less work to water than you would think.

Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy

Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy
Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy

Whether you happen to be an orchid lover, or merely a curious bystander, "Orchid Fever (A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust and Lunacy)" will have you by turns helpless with mirth and seething with indignation, or else simply agog with incredulity from start to finish. For it is, quite simply, an absolutely stunning piece of investigative journalism, dressed up as a tale of personal obsession and eccentricities. Written using plain language and with an outstanding witticism, it makes for compelling reading throughout, whether or not you know anything about orchids, or the orchid-growing and trading communities that it explores.


Your orchid should flower every year if you take good care of it.

These blooms last for anywhere between a month to nine months!

So the extra you may pay for an orchid as opposed to a different houseplant is definitely worth it just by the amount of time you have to enjoy your orchid's blooms.

It may seem like you're paying a lot for a flower upfront, but the return of a flower that blooms for months on end, is exotic and easy to care for all at the same time makes it very worth it.

Orchids add an exotic and beautiful style to any room.

With 30,000 species, orchids compose the largest plant family in the world

Confucius once compared seeing good friends to entering a room full of fragrant orchids. Take good care of your orchid and it can live on to be as old as 150 years! Now that's a houseplant that's exotic, beautiful, easy to care for and a good investment!

The world's largest orchid can grow to 20 metres long.

In 1595 a Chinese flower-arranging book "A Treatise of Vase Flowers" by Chang Ch'ien -te said orchids were in the top ranking of desirability.

Currently the most popular houseplant in the UK according to F&PA surveys .

Excellent Video on How to Care for Orchids

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and an orchid with the other. ~Chinese Proverb

Do You Have Any Orchids?

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    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 3 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @Chitrangada Thank you. They are very beautiful.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 3 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @Audrey Thanks for visiting. :)

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 3 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @tillsontitan I know what you mean. They are so distinctive.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 3 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @Vellur Thanks for visiting. :)

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very useful information shared by you about Orchid care!

      They are lovely and beautiful. Nice hub, voted up!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      So very useful!!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Like many I'm a bit afraid of orchids but they are oh so beautiful. Just yesterday in a store I saw the most beautiful blue orchids....I was so tempted, just as I am tempted to read that book you make sound so good. Your hub is as lovely as the orchids.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub about orchids, they are so beautiful.

    • profile image

      RoSelou 4 years ago

      Yes, I even take photograph on our dancing lady orchid. I wait our other orchid to bloom its flowers and take photographs too.

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      No, just lots of pictures of orchids. They're beautiful! The one above the video that you put here is especially nice. Very soft.

    • profile image

      WinWriter 5 years ago

      It's my absolute favorite flower. I would love to get one, just don't want to mess it up. Thanks for the great tips. There's hope for me :)

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 5 years ago

      yes my family does. the color of flower types is beautiful.

    • profile image

      Lindrus 5 years ago

      I have 3 orchid plants and I love these beautiful flowers! Great lens with good tips!

    • biminibahamas profile image

      biminibahamas 5 years ago

      I love orchids, I just can't seem to get enough!

    • profile image

      huvalbd 5 years ago

      I'm no good at growing orchids, but Grandma was amazing. She had about 50 orchids descended from one original so they all bloomed at the same time, and a few more of other varieties. I think of her every time I see an orchid.

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 6 years ago

      Yes, several. Some bloom every year, others go years without blooming. One I inherited from my mother blooms every year, very special. I've included orchids in my lens on oolong tea - very harmonious. I will lensroll this lens to that one.

    • AutumnLockwood LM profile image

      AutumnLockwood LM 6 years ago

      I have 5 orchids...3 of which re-bloom every year. I have the easiest time with Phaleonopsis orchids...not sure if I spelled it right:)

    • journey103 profile image

      journey103 6 years ago from USA

      Beautiful and such great info. Orchids truly are nature's works of art!

    • profile image

      resabi 6 years ago

      Orchids are so sculptural and so pristine. Beautiful and so well displayed in this lens. Blessed.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I've wanted to grow orchids, but keep holding off. They are so lovely.

      Blessed by a squid angel.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 6 years ago

      I had to come back and visit. Orchids have become one of my favorite flowers to photograph. Love their unique personality!! Leaving you with a Blessing from a SquidAngel

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 6 years ago from US/TN

      Nice lens! Blessed.

    • profile image

      OrchidPlanttips 7 years ago

      These are great orchids. I also have blog on orchids. These flowers are really amazing.

    • profile image

      OrchidPlanttips 7 years ago

      These orchids are great. Very informative.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 7 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Aren't orchid just so beautiful. Mt daughter in law loves them but always kills them- I'll pass this on to her! Blessed by a Squid Angel today and added to my Angel lens.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

      Thank you for the tips. I may be overwatering my orchid. It was a gift last December and I'm hoping to get another bloom this year. The last bloom was beautiful for 9 months. Quite a remarkable plant!

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 7 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @KimGiancaterino: Good luck with that Kim. :)

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 7 years ago

      I love orchids and actually wrote a lens on them. Recently I have really been into taking photo's of them. Orchids to me, have this unique personality. Everyone I have seen is like that. I have two and I am new at growing them, so I am keeping my fingers crossed so far so good. They love being next to my lucky bamboo plants. They are all like one big happy family :0)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      I have always loved Orchids, but I have never had one. I have this fear of killing it like I did my African violets. Sadly, my green thumb does not extend to house plants. Only a few survive my overzealous care. I am favoriting this lens for reference should I ever experience a moment of insanity and think "I can" :)

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 7 years ago from Naperville, IL

      I've never grown orchids, but I'm intrigued and plan to purchase one soon. Interesting lens with beautiful photos!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Yes, I have an orchid that was given to me as a Thank You gift 3 years ago and it blooms twice a year. I have just about got it right now as far as caring for it is concerned - I did learn the hard way when I lost another plant.

      Very informative lens Paula with lovely illustrations.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      [in reply to EverythingMouse] I have 6 orchid plants.  My first one  has bloomed several times.  At one point, it bloomed on the same stalk, but the flower was a different color.I have fallen in love with orchids.  With the Lord's help I have been able to have success with them.  I have a question - When you transplant the orchid, must you have a larger pot?  Also, what can you do with ALL the roots?

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 8 years ago

      Orchids are so beautiful and I have bought them sometimes but never been able to keep them. Perhaps I will try again now I have your tips.

    • profile image

      nkent 8 years ago

      Love the lens -I love the fact you have those orchid books from Amazon close at hand

      - saves me having to search myself. If you get the chance check

      out my Orchid Gardening

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 9 years ago

      This is a lovely lens. It's nice to have the basics of orchid care laid out so simply, especially for new orchid growers. 5*