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Grow Orchids

Updated on March 8, 2015

Grow an exotic orchid

The first orchid I ever owned was a present from a friend. I was initially intimidated by the gracefully arched exotic beauty. It was going to be a real challenge for me to keep this pricey and fussy plant alive, I thought. Where should I put it, how often should I water it? How do I get it to bloom again after the flowers are spent? These were the questions zipping through my mind as I graciously accepted my first orchid from my friend.

Ten years have passed and that one orchid plant had grown multiple spikes, been split into separate plants, repotted several times, with some colorful exotics joining the club.

This lens showcases the orchids that I learned to grow through trial and error. You too, can grow an orchid.

All the photos were taken by yours truly Bakerwoman.

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Orchids have a magical beauty and allure with incredible colors, shapes and scents. Perhaps, this contributes to the belief that they are difficult to grow and bloom. I thought so too, but I have become an orchid enthusiast.

Have you ever grown an orchid?

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Spectacular white dendrobium bridal veil - The best of shows

Photo Credit: jennysh_who

My first orchid was a white dendrobium with a single stalk or cane. It flourished, bloomed, and grew multiple offshoots. One year, the dendrobium made a spectacular display of more than 50-some flowers arching gracefully next to the window. The stem was so weighted down that a sturdy pole had to be inserted in the center of the planter to hold up this bridal veil. Have you ever seen anything like this?

Today, some of the older canes have died back, new root shoots called keikis (Hawaiian for babies) are growing from buds on the upper portion of the cane. Eventually, these will be removed and repotted as separate plants.

Orchid food for blooms year after year - Nutrients to keep orchids healthy and prolific

I add 1/8 tsp. of orchid fertilizer to 1 gallon of water for the weekly watering. This is more than what the experts recommend but my orchids do not seem to be complaining.

White Phalaenopsis or 'Moth Orchid' - A classic beauty- a popular wedding flower

Phalaenopsis or Phals, for short, are easily grown in the home and stay in bloom for a very long time. They live in the moist and shady undergrowth fo the forest in Southeast Asia including the Philippines, Taiwan, and many islands in that region.

Phals are monopidial, which means they grow leaves from a central stem. Each year a phal will grow one or two new leaves. To encourage new spikes to emerge from the phals, the plant must experience lower temperatures (60's) at night. Ideal daytime temperature is around 75-85 degrees F.

Delicate Pink Phalaenopsis - Soft touch of a baby's cheeks

Delicate and elegant, the subtle pink phalaenopsis makes it own statement.


Never overwater an orchid. Water every 7-10 days or when the planting medium is dry to the touch. Water orchids in the morning so that the leaves are dry before the evening.

Yellow-orange with purple Phalaenopsis orchid - Star-shaped with perfect symmetry

A lovely contrast to the whites and purple orchids, these yellow-orange phals bring smiles to dreary days. The petals are thick almost like those of succulents.

Mottled purple and white Phalaenopsis - Spotted harlequins

These wild-looking phals never fail to turn heads. Exotic, stunning, and long-lasting, these are one of my favorites.

Yellow and purple Phalaenopsis - A variation of the white and purple phal

Two flowers in 2011. If only we could decipher the secret messages written on the petals. God is indeed the greatest artist of all.

Yellow spotted harlequin has 23 buds and flowers for 2012 - wow!

Yellow spotted harlequin has 23 buds and flowers for 2012 - wow!
Yellow spotted harlequin has 23 buds and flowers for 2012 - wow!


Never expose an orchid to bright mid-day sun as this will burn and scorch the plant. Indirect sunlight is best.

Muti-branched Phalaenopsis - Fooling Mother Nature

Phals are supposed to have a single stem. But this orchid defied Mother Nature and branched out into several arched blooms. This phenomena occurred several times and then stopped. Digital cameras are wonderful in capturing great moments.

Mother's Day Present 2011

Baldan's Kaleidoscope 'Golden Treasure'

One way I remember orchids is by association. My son gave me this lemony candy-striped Phalaenopsis for Mother's Day in 2011. It came in its own ceramic 4" container. I took a photo of it for posterity and for sentimental reasons. The intricate network of "veins" is eye-popping and the red lips are striking

Mother's Day orchid with new green spike - The gift that keeps giving

See what this little green spike produced below.

My Post-Mother's Day Phal 2012 - Good things come to those who wait

The green spike of "Baldan's Kaleidoscope" rewarded me with five large candy-striped phals on June 3, 2012, three weeks late for Mother's Day. The blooms were larger and were facing in all directions. A belated gift is always a delight.

Miniature white phals with green spikes - Good things do come in small packages

Phalaenopsis orchids' bottom leaves wlll turn yellow and fall off when new growths emerge. Note the new spikes in the two plants. These new shoots will have a display of small white Phals, about the side of half dollars in a couple of months. This photo was taken on Feb. 18, 2012.

Miniature white phals in full bloom - Worth the wait with several weeks of enjoyment

Where to cut a phalaenopsis stem

To get blooms all year round

Method #1 Cut dead stem at base of plant - New spike will emerge from base

Photo Credit: jennysh_who

There are two ways to induce growth of new spikes after the flowers are spent.

The first way is to lop off the spike at the base. Cutting the flower spike entirely allows the plant to gather its energy for a more spectacular bloom the next time. The photo below shows an old spike which has browned and never produced a new spike at the cut node. This was because I had inadvertently cut the dead stem along with the node where a future spike will emerge. But it was not all in vain because a new green shoot emerged from the base of the leaves.

Method #2 Cut above node of stem - New spike will grow from node

Photo Credit: jennysh_who

The second way to induce a new spike is to cut the old spike just above a node on the stem while it is still green. This will force a new spike to emerge from the node and rebloom as a branch off the existing spike. This results in more blooms sooner but take energy from the plant and may result in smaller blooms. I have done it both ways and never noticed any difference in the size of the flowers.

Ingredients for thriving orchids

Patience, good air circulation, indirect sunlight and water. Some orchids like warm temperatures and other prefer cool.

How to water orchids

This video illustrates how to water and fertilize an orchid. The only difference is that I catch the running water into a basin and pour this into the next orchid. Why waste the precious orchid food into the drain? Every so often, I give the leaves of the orchid a light shower to rid of the dust. Orchids look great with their healthy and shiny spade-like leaves. Then I wipe these dry with kitchen towels.

Details, details, details

Be mindful of standing water

Most orchids are sold in plastic pots in varying sizes. Before putting the 4-inch Phalaenopsis in the decorative pot, I inserted an inexpensive plastic dish inside topped with a layer of smooth pebbles. A bag of river rocks can be purchased from the dollar store. The river rocks will serve as a drainage for residual liquid after the orchid is watered. It is not a good idea to let an orchid sit directly in water even for only an hour. Leaves will start yellowing. I have lost a couple due to this oversight.

Hide plastic pot in decorative and functional orchid pot

What are the holes for?

These heavily-glazed ceramic orchids pots are beautiful as well as functional. The cutouts come in unique shapes and give the orchids proper ventilation for the root system which is important to keep the plant alive and thriving. The pots come in different sizes, shapes and colors to enhance the beauty of the orchids.

Enhance the beauty of your orchids

Orchids are usually sold in a plastic pot ranging from 3-6" pots. These are then hidden in decorative orchid planters to enhance the beauty of the flowers. Aside from decorative purposes, the cut-outs in the pots are made to improve air circulation.

Purple dendrobium orchid - My pride and joy

Photo Credit: jennysh_who

There are 4 large planters of purple dendrobium orchids against the sunroom windows. The orchids were placed by the windows because the stalks were tall and there was nowhere else to put them. These were also very prolific plants which continued to grow offshoots and overtime crowding the pots. Fortunately, dendrobiums like to be root-bound.

The morning sun and the afternoon shade made this a perfect location for the purple beauties. Evening temperatures are about 60's which forced the bloom spikes to emerge in the late Winter. This explains why the purple denbrodium orchids are my best performers in the house. Weekly watering and fertilizing played a key role too.


Orchids like daytime temperatures of around 70's and colder evenings (60's). Never place orchids next to heating registers and radiators.

I closed the vents on the floor next to my orchids even in the winter so these plants do not get dehydrated. Keep a dish of gravel with some water on the bottom of the planter to maintain humidity. Never let orchids sit directly on water.

The key to a happy orchid is to move the pot as little as possible.

The key to a happy orchid is to move the pot as little as possible.
The key to a happy orchid is to move the pot as little as possible.

Watering Dendrobiums

Water thoroughly to saturate the bark mixture and drain well. Dendrobiums store water in their rhizomes and like to dry out between waterings.


Repot once every two years in Spring, after blooming, or when new growth starts. A mix of 10 parts fine-grade Fir-bark and 1 part orchid mix will work well in 6" pots and smaller, while medium-grade Fir-bark works well in larger pots.

Repotting Your Orchids

Orchids potting mix to create spectacular blooms

Orchids need special growing medium

Orchids grow on tree barks in the rainforests of Southeast Asia. Orchids are not parasites and do not rely on the host trees for nutrients. Instead, they get their nutrients from the air. Orchids are epiphytes or 'air plants.' Hence, orchid potting mix are usually made of bark with other loose materials. These products are fertile mixtures of chunks of peat blended with western fir bark, hardwood charcoal and coarse perlite. Proper drainage is essential for proper growth and root health of the orchids.

Sun Bulb 5011 Better-Gro Phalaenopsis Mix, 8 Quarts

Cymbidium or boat orchid - The orchid that came back to life outdoors

This cymbidium orchid was spectacular after I took it home from a local nursery. But after the flowers were spent, the leaves browned and were unattractive and the plant did not bloom for the next two years. It was given up for dead and the cymbidium plant was banished outdoors under a Japanese maple tree where it was shaded and stayed cool most of the time. It gets watered once a week or even less and was pretty much ignored for sometime until beautiful yellow and orange blooms started to grow late Winter. The flamboyant blooms have a waxy texture and last ten weeks.

The lesson I learned here is that the cymbidium preferred to be in a cool shaded area with indirect sunlight and liked drying out between waterings.

The world's most exotic flowers

You deserve to grow one

Life is too short not to grow an orchid. Now is just as good as anytime to get one for yourself or for a friend. Imagine the feeling of pride and satisfaction when your orchid blooms again and again.

Beallara Pluto's Drummer orchid Near Blooming Size

Funny, informative, and a visual delight - 5-star rated book--almost

Bloom-Again Orchids: 50 Easy-Care Orchids that Flower Again and Again and Again
Bloom-Again Orchids: 50 Easy-Care Orchids that Flower Again and Again and Again

This book will convince even the most nervous newbies that orchids are not hard to grow. Set your fears about orchids being fussy, temperamental and difficult after reading Judy White's award-winning book. A great reference book with a humorous outtake that will keep you peeled to the pages and the spectacular close-up photos whet your appetite for orchids.


Are you ready to grow an orchid?

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    • NightMagic profile image

      NightMagic 5 years ago

      Thank you for this lens. I just bought an orchid & had no idea how to care for it. I'm going to follow your instructions

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      beautiful photos of beautiful plants, a very useful and interesting lens

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 5 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Forgot to say, beautiful lens. Gorgeous photos. Liked.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 5 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      I love orchids, but have never had any luck growing them. I've been told that I have 2 green thumbs, but when it comes to orchids, I really don't.

    • malena10 profile image

      malena10 5 years ago

      Helpful information about Phalaenopsis, thanks :)

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      @tfsherman lm: My orchids have never stepped out of the house yet, perhaps, because it gets pretty cool in the evenings in Northern California. It is also windy where I live. I like the tip on the usage of cork which I will keep in mind. The corks in my collection though are going towards some cor trivets which I plan to make.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 5 years ago

      These photos are beautiful. You've got me motivated to get more orchids! Blessed!

    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 5 years ago

      Great lens, orchid lady! I live in Florida where my phals are soooo happy underneath the citrus trees. I bring them in when they bloom each year and put them in a bowl with a bunch of corks in the bottom. The corks diffuse water to them quicker than pebbles, but they aren't standing in water.

    • MJsConsignments profile image

      Michelle 5 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      What an awesome lens. I'm willing to try but my dogs may have other things to say about it!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 5 years ago

      Orchids sure are high maintenance!

    • profile image

      ernestoserna 5 years ago

      I saw some beautiful orchids in my travels.

    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 5 years ago

      The orchids look wonderful.

    • Markstuffnmore profile image

      Markstuffnmore 5 years ago

      great lens! awesome pictures and I love your tips in purple!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Your pictures are supper, I love orchids.


    • profile image

      ohcaroline 5 years ago

      I have always admired the orchid plants when I see them in the store, but haven't been brave enough to get one yet. Beautiful orchids and pictures.

    • profile image

      iMorpheus 5 years ago

      Beautiful :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've always thought that orchids were so difficult, I could never grow one. I'm going to try now. This lens was beautiful and so informative. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Your purple orchids are awesome! I love them but don't think I would grow them!

    • ecotrek lm profile image

      ecotrek lm 5 years ago

      lovely pic

    • KReneeC profile image

      KReneeC 5 years ago

      What a great lens! I am really wanting to grow an orchid now. Thank you so much!

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 5 years ago from America's Dairyland

      What a beautiful and informative lens! You know your topic and talk about your orchids with great love. Sounds as though they are almost members of the family! :)

    • Lauriej1 profile image

      Lauriej1 5 years ago

      Great lens!! :)

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      Blessed and included in my tribute lens - Colossal Squid Stars.

    • gold3 profile image

      gold3 5 years ago

      My dad loved to grow orchids. I loved them growing up. I will revisit this wonderful lens!

    • iwantcake lm profile image

      iwantcake lm 5 years ago

      beautiful flowers. Thanks for posting

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have three at home, they are really beautiful. And a nice gift too. I don't find it difficult to take care of.

    • profile image

      zvous 5 years ago

      what a lens! thanks for very informative info about orchids.

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 5 years ago

      I never thought much about orchids, figured they were too difficult to grow and manage. But you've converted me. Now, I don't think I'll be able to get orchids off my mind.

    • profile image

      seosri417 5 years ago

      Beautiful orchids

    • profile image

      Stinkerbelle 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens

    • cao2fine profile image

      cao2fine 5 years ago

      Your pictures are stunning and I appreciate your hard work in putting this together. I've always appreciated orchids, but have always purchased them for other people because I live in a condo and it gets very hot inside.

    • SydneyH LM profile image

      SydneyH LM 5 years ago

      You have lots of helpful information here. I love growing orchids! I have a dendrobium orchid with beautiful purple flowers that I've had many years. It has stood up to a lot of abuse. I've been getting some Phalaenopsis orchids recently.

    • profile image

      loiuseanne 5 years ago

      Refreshingly beautiful hub! :) Who doesn't love flowers? This lens only made me appreciate orchids better. I never thought they are this beautiful. Thank you for such a wonderful lens :))

    • profile image

      loiuseanne 5 years ago

      Refreshingly beautiful hub! :) Who doesn't love flowers? This lens only made me appreciate orchids better. I never thought they are this beautiful. Thank you for such a wonderful lens :))

    • curious0927 profile image

      curious0927 5 years ago

      I will be when I re-read and study this awesome lens! So beautiful, so informative. Really well presented. Blessed!

    • Dmarieinspires profile image

      Dana Marie 5 years ago from St. Peters, MO

      I don't know, but will give it another shot! Thanks for the tips

    • charlb profile image

      charlb 5 years ago

      I have always been completely taken by orchids. In fact, I think they are my favourite flower. However, I have never owned one since I always found them too expensive and thought that I would kill it instantly.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      You create the most amazing lenses! The photos are beautiful. And the text is wonderful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      really informative. thnx. nice lens!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Beautiful lens, puts my orchid lens to shame.

      I love growing orchids, you never tire of them. Thanks for sharing yours with us. Blessed

    • MissionBoundCre profile image

      MissionBoundCre 5 years ago

      Beautiful . Great advise.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 5 years ago

      Orchids are so pretty

    • poissonenciel profile image

      poissonenciel 5 years ago

      Good day!

      We see your site and think that it will be interesting for you to share your hobby and professional experience. New market place started especially for gardens and flowers addicted people.

      We invite you to visit and place your ad for free and tell about yourself in profile.

      We wish you best of luck!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      The orchid in our kitchen garden window is about to bloom again. Last year the blooms lasted for several months. Most of my other orchids haven't done so well, but this one gives me hope. They're just lovely, as is your lens!

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 5 years ago

      yes, of course.

    • allenwebstarme profile image

      allenwebstarme 5 years ago

      Yes! Beautiful lens.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      Beautifully done, great content and images - very much enjoyed my visit!! :)

    • snazzify lm profile image

      Katie Harp 5 years ago

      blessed by a squid angel :) <3

    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 5 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      Just bought my first one and I am looking forward to adding to my collection. Great lens-thanks for all the info

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 5 years ago

      Thank you for such an informative lens.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Just love orchids and we're lucky to have them at our house in the Philippines. I wish I can grow them in Canada but I am just not there all the time. Your pictures are so beautiful.

    • girlfriendfactory profile image

      girlfriendfactory 5 years ago

      This terrific lens is more than worthy of a Flyby Winging and it can be found among the other blessed lenses for today at Have Wings Will Bless More! They may call me an aimless wanderer, but not all who wander are aimless and I'm glad my aim was good when I wandered upon this. ~Ren

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Very beautiful orchids! Saving this in case I have questions about my orchid. :)

    • profile image

      leeleon 5 years ago

      Awesome. I like your lens very much. So interesting and cool. NICE!!!

    • profile image

      candleandblue 5 years ago

      My orchids love being on a cold, north facing window. Flower year after year.

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      Gorgeous.... flowers, photos, all of it... :)

    • profile image

      Lindrus 5 years ago

      Thanks for the tips and the beautiful photos. I have an orchid (my first one!) and I'm so happy that it's still alive and blooming.

    • BestGamesQuest profile image

      BestGamesQuest 5 years ago

      I don't know if I would trust these beautiful flowers to my "black thumb."

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 5 years ago

      I love orchids! They are so pretty.

    • profile image

      lilPinkfairy288 5 years ago

      These flowers looks beautiful. Love them. Thanks for sharing those lovely pictures. Enjoy it a lot.

    • profile image

      megabu717 5 years ago

      Great info on orchids, thanks.

    • profile image

      PecjakJN 5 years ago

      Beautiful photos

    • cajkovska lm profile image

      cajkovska lm 5 years ago

      Nice photos and thanks for all those informations!

    • ITCoach LM profile image

      ITCoach LM 5 years ago

      Thanks to interact your ideas with us.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      I do think I am!

      I am right in the middle of a potential move right now.. so I am up for this! :) Blessed!

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 5 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      Fabulous lens for anyone who wants to grow orchids-- or for anyone who loves to look at beautiful pictures. Nicely done! Blessed!

    • Herman IV profile image

      Herman IV 5 years ago

      These are simply beautiful! I would love to grow orchids. Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Awesome lens ! Nice photos ! Like it

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Nice lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Beautiful flower! *blessed*

    • madoc profile image

      madoc 5 years ago

      I don't think it is possible in Wisconsin, unless I can find the right space indoors

    • pufek77 lm profile image

      pufek77 lm 5 years ago

      Yes!I love them all phalanopsys, miltonia,Vanda,.....

      They are most beoutiful plants for me!

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Very nice lens! I am longing to grow an orchid, and now I am emboldened. I love your beautiful plants!

    • profile image

      mumsgather 5 years ago

      Plenty of advise here and visually appealing too! Blessed.

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      Great lens! I wish I had known this information before I killed my orchids 2 years ago!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Quite a wonderful guide! Thanks so much for sharing, and sharing the beautiful pictures, as well! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • LooLooBird profile image

      LooLooBird 5 years ago

      WOW. That was seriously informative! I like how you put the top care tips in purple boxes....helped me stay focused, haha -- you have so many beautiful pictures!

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Splendid lens! I love orchids (although I've never tried to grow them before). Great photos of your plants and so much useful advice. One of these days maybe I'll try to grow an orchid myself...