Orchids are exquisite and have thousands of different varieties. These qualities make them very desired among houseplant enthusiasts.
However, orchids can sometimes be tricky to grow indoors because each type requires slightly different care.
There are plenty of orchid varieties that can give professional gardeners a run for their money.
On the other hand, many orchids and orchid hybrids will be quite content living on your windowsill.
There are many ways to keep your orchids thriving. Persistence and monitoring are essential when you’re waiting for your orchid to bloom.
Depending on your chosen species, they can bloom one to two times per year.
Sometimes indoor orchids are a bit more reluctant to bloom. If you haven’t been able to enjoy the lovely flowers yet, don’t worry.
There are a few factors to keep an eye on regarding the lack of orchid blossoms, and this article covers the most common issues.
Lighting is a crucial factor in growing healthy, blooming orchids. The amount of light needed depends on the type of orchid you choose, but most of them like to get a full days’ worth of sun.
Eastern and Southern windows are preferable because they prevent the risk of damaging direct sunlight, which can sunburn your plant. Remember, full sun is different than direct sun.
If you aren’t sure about the light that your windows will provide, you can try moving the orchid to different spots gradually. This method will help you pinpoint where your plant is the happiest.
The weather won’t always provide perfect sunny days, even if you have the ideal window location. Grow lights are a fantastic option for keeping your orchids sunbathed throughout the day. And they’re especially helpful during the dreary winter months!
It’s a good rule of thumb to keep an eye on the leaves. If they are light green or yellowish, it can indicate too much sun. If they are dark green, it can mean not enough sun.
The best options for grow lights
- LED grow light – LED lights are becoming very popular amongst indoor gardeners. They are more energy-efficient and offer a more comprehensive range of light spectrums for your greenery. These lights have the added benefit of producing less heat, which means less risk of accidentally burning you or your plant life.
- High-Intensity Discharge (HID) – HID lights are more powerful and great for larger areas. If you have an entire room dedicated to orchids, a light that covers a wider range might be necessary. However, they do produce more heat, so keep that in mind when making your decision.
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) – CFL lights are definitely the most common for orchid growers. Their combination of light range and temperature control is ideal for most species of orchids. Not to mention, they are great for the gardener on a budget!
Orchids are tropical plants, so they like to be nice and warm during the day and slightly cooler at night. This is another area where grow lights can be very beneficial because they allow you to set timers.
Most orchids can’t bloom in dry conditions because their natural habitat is on the more humid side. The orchid’s favorite levels of humidity are between 60 and 80 percent.
Before you turn your home into a tropical paradise, there are many easy solutions for your plant’s temperature preferences. Small humidifiers and special humidity trays are great when it comes to orchid care.
Depending on your particular orchid, daily misting may be all that it needs.
Experienced orchid growers may suggest a rolling cart to act as a portable home for your flowers. This way, you can keep everything they need in one place and easily move them away from drafts or unwanted sunlight.
Humidifiers for orchids:
- Warm Mist Humidifiers – This one is pretty self-explanatory. A warm mist humidifier will heat up the water to an almost boiling point before sending it out in a mist form. Warm mist is ideal for many types of orchids.
- Ultrasonic Humidifiers – This option produces a delicate, wisp-like mist, which is great because that means less chance of a film or residue on your plants.
- Evaporative Humidifiers – This machine circulates air over a cloth material to produce humidity. Sometimes they are referred to as swamp coolers.
3. Soil & Container
Orchids are different from other plants because their roots require much more oxygen than most. A few orchids can grow in soil, but most prefer a loser growth media to allow for better air and water circulation.
It’s important to add fertilizer because the media that orchids like to live in does not provide many nutrients. The best fertilizer is one low in nitrogen. It is generally only needed when your orchid is repotted or in active growth.
Most orchids are happiest growing in a mixture of different substances. All you have to do is research which mediums are best for your variety.
Orchid medium options:
- peat moss
- fir bark
- dried fern roots
- tree fern fibers
- sphagnum moss
- rock wool
- cork nuggets
- coconut husk
- lava rock
The container you choose also plays a significant role in the happiness of your orchid. Again, learn a little about your new friend and decide on a planter accordingly.
- Net pots – These are similar to the baskets that pre-packaged produce come in, and they’re great for smaller orchids.
- Clear plastic pots – If you’re new to raising orchids, then a clear pot might be the right choice. This pot will allow you to inspect your medium and the roots of your orchid quickly.
- Net basket insert pots – These are best known for good drainage and oxygen flow.
- Bi-level drainage pots – These are going to have a rounded bottom with an abundance of drainage holes.
- Wooden baskets – If your orchid prefers to grow in a mostly moss based media, wooden baskets are ideal for being lined with moss.
Overwatering can be detrimental to your orchid plant. Their roots act as sponges, which means they don’t need water as frequently as other flowers. In fact, most types of orchids only require watering once a week.
You will also want to choose a watering schedule based on your plant and container size. If your choice of medium retains water longer, test to make sure it’s dry before adding more hydration to the roots.
Whatever schedule you choose, make sure you water them in the morning because orchids prefer to dry out at nighttime.
Depending on the variety, developing flower buds can require more water, resulting in the new blooms taking it away from the rest of the plant. In contrast, overwatering can cause the buds to die.
If you are concerned about overwatering, keep an eye on the leaves. If they start to develop wrinkles, reduce the amount of water.
The most important thing is to know your orchid well. Every different type will have its way of letting you know that it’s thirsty. All you have to do is pay attention.
Fun fact, orchids may not react well to cold water, so room temperature is the best bet. A little warmer is okay too.
You can’t rely on how beautiful your orchid looks to let you know that the roots are okay. They need their own separate care and attention.
Orchid roots have a mind of their own, and they are not big fans of being transplanted without good reason. And sometimes, they can even refuse to bloom if not re-potted correctly. A mind of their own indeed.
It is very common for them to grow upwards out of their pot because they rely on air to grow. If you see a few roots attempting to escape, don’t trim them.
Let them wander. Moving roots may also be a sign that it’s time for a slightly larger home.
These roots like get cozy in smaller pots and planters, and some orchid enthusiasts will tell you to use plastic containers.
The reason being that orchid roots like to cling to whatever is around them, and sometimes it can be difficult to detach them from drainage holes.
Repotting is a fundamental process for orchids, but only when it’s necessary. The timeframe of repotting is dependent on your orchid and can range from every one to five years.
Signs that it’s time for repotting:
- If your roots look brown.
- If your orchid media looks similar to gardening soil.
- If the roots are creeping over the edge of the pot.
How to re-pot your orchid:
- Pick out a new pot that is a couple of inches bigger than the current one.
- Set up a clean area and sterilize your potting materials. Orchids are very susceptible to diseases.
- Remove your orchid from its current pot. Be careful when detaching stubborn roots.
- Lightly untangle any knotted roots and trim away dead ends with a pair of sharp scissors.
- Put your orchid into its new pot so that new growth is level with the top of the container.
- Add your new potting mix a little bit at a time until your pot is full.
- If your orchid requires a stake, do that now. Otherwise, keep enjoying your orchid!
Best Orchids For Beginners
- Moth orchids – these are the most common variety of orchids, and their flowers can last for up to four months.
- Dendrobium orchid – this type of orchid is a favorite in flower bouquets.
- Oncidium orchid – also known as the dancing lady orchid that blooms in flower clusters.
- Cymbidium orchid – they like to produce waxy flowers in the winter or early spring.
- Lady’s slipper orchid – quite possibly the most distinctive orchid variety.
- Cattleya orchid – you may see these frequently on corsages.
- Jewel orchid – these are more popular for their purple foliage than their flowers.
- Jewel orchid – this orchid type can bloom all year long.
- Nun orchid – these can grow up to three feet tall.
- Odontoglossum orchid – this orchid produces clusters of vibrantly colored flowers.
- ‘Sharry Baby’ orchid – it produces petite blossoms with a fragrant chocolate-like scent.
- Lady of the night orchid – this orchid blooms multiple times a year and has a lovely fragrance.
- ‘Rosy Dawn’ orchid – these have bold, over-sized flower blossoms.
- Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica orchid – the perfect orchid for fall and winter.
- Phalaenopsis gigantea orchid – known for its gigantic leaves that can be up to two feet long.
Benefits Of Indoor Orchids
- Improved air quality: Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into your air space. This means every time you breathe out carbon dioxide, your orchid is balancing out your environment by doing the opposite. Many people can attest to deeper breathing and better sleep after they put an orchid on their nightstand.
- Stress relief: Everybody can use some extra stress relief this year. Did you know that plants are great at relieving stress? They can also improve your mood and help with anxiety. Because orchids are so lovely, they are a fantastic choice for an indoor plant companion.
- Reduces seasonal ailments – this might seem far fetched, but it is true. Indoor plants affect the humidity levels in your home. Higher humidity levels have been shown to improve and sometimes prevent cold and flu symptoms. Why not take all the help you can get?
- Healing power: We’ve all seen a hospital room filled with flowers, and it turns out there is a very good reason for that. It’s already been mentioned in the reasons above that plants can boost your mood, relieve stress, and provide optimal humidity levels. Bringing an orchid to a friend or family member who is under the weather will not only brighten their day but may also provide some healing power.
- Improves focus – The University of Michigan studied how plants improve focus, productivity, and memory retention. The results showed an improvement of up to 20 percent in all three areas. It seems like you may need to add orchid on your desk as well.