WATERING YOUR ORCHID
Always water early in the day so that your orchids dry out by nighttime. The proper frequency of watering will depend on the climatic conditions where you live. In general, water once a week during the winter and twice a week when the weather turns warm and dry. The size of your orchid container also helps determine how often you need to water, regardless of climate conditions. Typically, a 6-inch pot needs water every 7 days and a 4-inch pot needs water every 5 to 6 days.
The type of potting medium being used can also affect your plant’s water requirements. Bark has a tendency to dry out more rapidly than sphagnum moss, for instance. It is important to remember, however, that even when the surface of your pot is dry, the root area may remain moist. Poke your finger or a regular wooden pencil an inch into the pot; if it feels moist to the touch or if the pencil looks moist, do not add additional water. The potting medium should always be damp, but not soggyneither should it be allowed to get extremely dry.
The quality of water used, whether for spraying or watering, is of great importance. Since tap water has often been chemically treated, generally with chlorine, it should be used with caution. The best water for orchids is undoubtedly rainwater. Rainwater, as it passes through the air, dissolves and absorbs many substances such as dust, pollen and other organic matter. This enriched rainwater contributes to the nourishment of the plant.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: The temperature of the water is also important. If the water temperature and the surrounding air temperature are equal, no harm will result, and slight differences either way can be tolerated by healthy plants. Fatal or long-term damage, not easily discernible at first, can result from using water that is too cold.
RECOMMENDED BOOKS: Ultimate Orchid by Thomas J. Sheehan
………………………………………..Orchids Care and Cultivation by Gerald Terquem
A. When watering your orchids, take care to avoid wetting the leaves.
B. If water gets trapped in between the leaves, dry them quickly by using a piece of tissue or a cotton ball.
C. After watering, do not allow residual or standing water to come in contact with the base of the orchid pot.
D. Overwatering will result in yellow, damaged leaves. If your orchid’s leaves turn yellow and show signs of rot, hold off on watering for a few weeks.
ORCHID GLOSSARY | FAQ | SELECTING ORCHIDS | INDIVIDUAL CARE | FLOWERING CALENDAR
- Garden Myths – Learn the truth about gardening
- Orchids – Testing Their Water Needs
- The Results
- Orchids – Do They Need Water?
- Orchid Not Flowering
- Orchid Flowers Falling Off
- Why Are My Orchid Leaves Getting Wrinkled?
- Orchid Air Roots All Over the Place
- Shriveled and Dry Orchid Roots
- What is the White Fuzzy Stuff on My Orchid?
- Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow
- Proper Orchid Care
- How to Bring your Orchid Back to Life
- Growing your orchid
- Are you thinking of potting your orchid?
- Getting your orchid back to life
- Understand your orchid
- Orchid Growing Tips: How To Take Care Of Orchid Plants Indoors
- How Do I Take Care of an Orchid Flower?
- Orchid Growing Tips
- Indoor Orchid Care Tips
- What are the ideal growing conditions for orchids?
- How to Grow Orchids Indoors
- Selecting Orchids
- Light Requirements for Orchids
- Watering orchids
- Fertilizing Orchids
- Easiest to Grow: Moth orchids
- Which Orchid to Grow Indoors
- What The Girl Does In The Blooming Orchid Position
- What The Guy Does In The Blooming Orchid Position
- Things To Consider When Performing The Blooming Orchid Position
- Similar Positions
- Sean’s Thoughts On The Blooming Orchid Sex Position
- Watch This: Blow Job Tutorial Video
Garden Myths – Learn the truth about gardening
More orchids are killed by over watering than for any other reason. It begs the question, how much water do they really need? How long can an orchid go without water?
I know they grow slowly and react slowly to their environment. They also die slowly. I decided to see if an orchid needs to be watered regularly.
Orchid without water – day 1, by Robert Pavlis
Orchids – Testing Their Water Needs
I decided to take one of my phalaenopsis and use it for this test. I took the plant out of its pot on 7/17/2015 and took all of potting media off the roots. The orchid had been in arborist wood chips – I wanted to see how well these worked as a medium. You can see from the pictures below that the roots were not in good shape. Wood chips don’t seem to work too well for orchids.
I set the orchid on my desk and waited. It was not watered or misted during the duration of the experiment. It was fairly close to an east facing window which gave it low light.
At the 48 day mark I started feeling sorry for the poor thing especially since I was about to leave for two weeks of holiday. I put it back into a pot with coconut husk and watered it. It did not get watered again for two weeks while I was away. When I returned, it was watered whenever the media was completely dry – about once a week.
For more about my watering technique see, Watering Orchids with Ice Cubes
The picture at the top of the post shows the orchid at the start of the experiment. The top leaves look quite turgid and it is growing a new leaf which is always a good sign.
Orchid without water, closeup – day 1 , by Robert Pavlis
The above picture shows a closeup of the roots at the start of the experiment. You can see that quite a few of the roots are rotting – they are the black ones. If left in the pot with the wood chips, further rot would have occurred and it would have started to have a water stress even in the pot. Even with such a poor root system there were no obvious signs of stress showing on the leaves.
Orchid without water – day 24, by Robert Pavlis
After 24 days without water the orchid is starting to show signs of stress. The top three leaves still look turgid and the new leaf is still growing. However, the lower two leaves are starting to show wrinkles, a sure sign of water stress. It is normal for the phalaenopsis to start loosing the lowest leaf – they rarely have more than 4 leaves when grown in the home.
The green tips on the gray-white roots show that the good roots are growing. These seem quite healthy and are being used to pick up moisture from the air.
Orchid without water – day 48, by Robert Pavlis
It is now 48 days without watering. All the leaves are showing water stress and the lower leaf has gone brown, allowing the plant to absorb its water. Even the good roots are now wrinkling as a result of inadequate water.
Even though there is some stress, the plant is perfectly healthy and very much alive.
Orchid without water – day 94, by Robert Pavlis
At the 48 day mark the orchid was put back into a pot; this time with coconut chunks. It is a medium I am quite familiar with and know it works well for orchids. At 94 days the plant is growing well and the leaves have full turgor. The newest leaf is a good size which shows that the orchid did not encounter too much stress while it was growing.
For more about potting orchids see, Repotting Orchids
Orchids – Do They Need Water?
This orchid was not watered for almost 7 weeks. Over that time it slowly lost water, which can be seen by the wrinkling in the leaves, but it did not undergo extreme stress.
Clearly, you can leave an orchid for a couple of months without watering and it will survive. I don’t recommend this, but missing a couple of waterings will not kill an orchid.
It also shows how tough orchids really are. The only real way to kill them is with too much kindness. Be mean to your orchids – they will love you for it!
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Is your orchid dying and you’re not sure what to do? Not sure how to revive an orchid and make it beautiful again? I’ve compiled this critical list of the most common problems that people have with moth orchids, or Phalaenopsis. And most importantly, I’ll describe exactly what you can do to fix these orchid problems!
And there are many problems in orchid care! Proper consistent care is necessary to have thriving orchids.
I’d like to first go through a detailed list of troubleshooting. But then at the end of the post, I will describe exactly what proper orchid care looks like.
It is definitely easily achievable to grow and rebloom an orchid! Just stick with me! I’ve turned many orchid killers into orchid growers!
Allow me to take you through the top issues that people have with orchids. People have approached me over and over again with the same problems, so my goal is to help you overcome these orchid problems!
So let’s get into how to save an orchid from dying!
Orchid Not Flowering
Solution #1: Give Your Orchid More Light
This is one of the most common orchid problems that people have come to me with, and I’ve been able to help everyone with my advice.
The most common reason why your orchid is failing to bloom is not enough light!
One tell tale sign of an orchid that is not getting enough light is that the leaves may be a very dark green. In most cases in the home, orchids should be grown right in front of a window.
The only exception that I can think of is it you have a lot of light coming in from skylights. It is OK though to put your orchid on display temporarily while it is in full bloom. It will do no harm and I do this all the time.
Just be sure to return your plant to its window after the blooms are gone!
I keep almost all my orchids right in front of an Eastern facing window. They receive bright indirect light for most of the day, and some morning sun. The morning sun is gentle enough on Phalaenopsis orchids.
On the other end of the spectrum, you do not want your Phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, to bake in sun all day.
Solution #2: Vary the Daytime vs. Nighttime Temperature
If your plant looks perfectly healthy and you are giving it enough light, but just refuses to bloom, one thing you can try is to have a drop in temperature at night.
This is most easily achieved if you can place your Phalaenopsis outdoors for the summer.
Summering your orchids outdoors will do wonders for them! Often times, a 10-15F, or more, drop in temperature at night time will be enough to cause your orchid to bloom for you.
Many moth orchids will grow a flower spike in the Fall or early winter. Of course, this depends on the parentage of the particular hybrid that you have.
Just be sure to bring your orchid back indoors before the night time temperatures go below approximately 55F.
If you don’t have access to an outdoor space, you can even place your orchid pot very near to a window. I did this once successfully. I had a moth orchid that would not bloom, and I brought it to the basement.
I touched the orchid pot to the window (being careful not to have any leaves touch the window). This provided enough of a temperature drop in the evening time to trigger the plant to bloom.
Orchid Flowers Falling Off
Solution #1: There May Not Be Anything Wrong To Begin With!
I’ve had many people approach me in the past telling me that their orchid is dying.
Being the plant doctor that I am, I then proceeded to ask them a few questions to get down to the bottom of it. Many have told me that they purchased their orchid and brought it home and have had it for 2 or 3 months.
Then the orchid flowers start drying up.
My response is usually “if you want a flower that lasts forever, buy a silk plant!” Well ok, that’s not what I tell people. But seriously, what more can you want?
First of all, when you purchase an orchid at the store, you simply don’t know how long the orchid flowers have been open.
And if your plant was basically in full bloom when you purchased it, and the flowers last an additional 2-3 months back at home, there is nothing wrong!
It’s just part of the natural cycle of your plant! No flower will last forever so don’t have unrealistic expectations of your plant. When I buy orchids, I like to buy ones that have some unopened buds at the tip.
This will ensure that you’ll get a longer show once you bring them home.
Solution #2: Protect Your Orchid From Extremes in Temperature Anytime You Are Moving It
For those of us that live in colder climates, we have to take our orchid out of the nursery or grocery store and into the cold weather outside to get to our cars.
Don’t be surprised if some bud blasting occurs on your orchid. In fact, you should pretty much expect it! Bud blasting is basically when an unopened flower bud just dries up on you and doesn’t open.
One of the factors that causes bud blasting in orchids is sudden changes in temperature. The mere fact of walking 1 minute to your car in very cold weather, even if you cover the plant with a bag, will be enough to have one or two buds experience bud blasting.
Really there is nothing that you can do about it! Other than permanently move to a warm climate! One day I hope to retire outside of Ohio and have warmth year-round…
Bud blasting can also be caused by sudden changes in light or watering. Inconsistent watering habits, especially while an orchid is in bud, could also cause bud blasting.
So if you experience bud blasting shortly after you purchase your orchid, remember that you orchid needs to adjust to your home conditions. Plants need a period of adjustment.
Moving a plant from the ideal greenhouse conditions into average home conditions can be a bit of a shock for your orchid. It won’t kill it (orchids are much tougher than people think), but realize that it will need some time to adjust.
I almost forgot…keep your orchids away from heating vents! You don’t want hot, dry air blowing at your orchid especially when it is in bud. This can also cause bud blasting.
Why Are My Orchid Leaves Getting Wrinkled?
Solution: Fix Your Watering Issues
If your orchid has wrinkled leaves, it could be due to either underwatering or “overwatering” but you would need to determine which one.
Moth orchids don’t have pseuobulbs like many other types of orchids, so they must never dry out completely, especially for extended periods.
Pseudobulbs are water and food storage organ found in many other types of orchids, like Cattleya. Moth orchids don’t have these.
If you let your moth orchid get too dry, the leaves will get more and more wrinkled. Put your finger into the potting medium. Is it bone dry? Are the roots also dry and wrinkled? This indicates that you need to step up your watering game.
Dehydrated Orchid Root
For an orchid that is very dehydrated, you should thoroughly soak the entire pot.
Set it inside of a bucket of water or sink, or even back inside its decorative pot. Let it soak in water for even a few hours for a severely dehydrated plant.
This is only for extreme cases until the plant recovers. You can do your regular watering this way too, but 15-30 minutes would be sufficient. After that, drain out all the excess water.
Orchid must never sit in water for extended periods of time unless you are treating them for dehydration.
On the other hand, if you have wrinkled leaves and the roots are mushy or rotted out, then the issue is probably due to root rot. Don’t make the mistake of adding extra water in this case in response to the wrinkled leaves!
Another indication of root rot is if you grab a root and you are able to pull the outer portion of the root away to reveal a “string” in the middle.
In the case of root rot, depending on how bad it is, you should immediately take your orchid out of its pot and remove all the potting medium and repot it in fresh medium.
If you see signs of new roots growing, you may be in luck. If you have no roots left on your orchid and the leaves are very wrinkled, it might just be time to toss the plant.
Orchid Air Roots All Over the Place
Solution: Leave Them!
Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, like any epiphytic orchids, grow an abundance of air roots. In nature they use the roots to attach onto trees, absorb water and photosynthesize.
So leave them! There is nothing wrong and it is perfectly natural for this to occur. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is time to repot, although you should repot your orchid every 2-3 years.
To see how to repot an orchid, check out my blog post on repotting orchids.
Shriveled and Dry Orchid Roots
Solution: Water Them!
Do your orchid roots appear to be nice and plump and healthy underneath the potting medium, but the exposed air roots are shriveled up and dry?
The most probably explanation is that you are simply not watering the air roots! When you water your plants, be sure to also moisten the exposed air roots otherwise they will shrivel up and completely dry up.
Healthy orchid roots should be round, plump and a silvery color. When you get them wet, they should turn a greenish color.
Healthy Orchid Roots
What is the White Fuzzy Stuff on My Orchid?
Probably mealy bugs! Although mealy bugs reproduce pretty quickly, they aren’t typically too difficult to control on orchids.
Seeing white cottony masses on the leaves probably means you have mealy bugs. Another indication of mealy bugs on orchids is that you may find sticky spots on the leaves. This is because mealy bugs will excrete what is called honeydew, and it is sticky.
Solution: Wipe Off the Mealy Bugs and Use Rubbing Alcohol
According to the American Orchid Society, an effective way to eradicate mealy bugs, scale and even aphids, is to use rubbing alcohol.
First, remove all the visible masses of the pests with your finger or a small cloth or paper towel.
Then, take a cotton ball or paper towel, dip it into isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and gently wipe the affected areas. The commonly available isopropyl rubbing alcohol at 70% concentration will work fine.
Do NOT use other types of alcohol, or higher concentrations, because you might damage your plant. You may want to test one small affected area first and make sure that your plant doesn’t have a negative reaction.
Keep repeating the treatments until there is no indication of pests left.
Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow
Solution #1: There May Be Nothing Wrong!
If only one bottom leaf has turned yellow, but all the rest of the leaves look great and the roots are healthy and vigorous, there is probably nothing wrong with your orchid!
It is perfectly normal for plants to eventually have their lower leaves turn yellow. It’s just part of the growth process.
If your plant is losing more leaves than it is growing, then you may need to adjust your watering.
Solution #2: Adjust Your Watering
Yellow leaves, like the issue with wrinkled leaves, can also be cause by both underwatering and overwatering! Go back up to the “Why Are My Orchid Leaves Getting Wrinkled” section to see what you should be looking for.
Proper Orchid Care
So as you can see, there are so many factors to get right in orchid care. Orchid care is actually very easy once you understand a few things and realize that orchids are not hard.
They’re just different! And you just have to get used to the care. After you do, you will find them to be very easy!
If you would like to learn everything I know about moth orchid care…all the basics that you need to allow your orchids to thrive, check out my accessible and quick to read Moth Orchid Mastery: The Novice’s Guide to Mastering Moth Orchid Culture in Less Than One Hour.
Don’t take my word for it though. Check out what others have said about my book. I promise you will quickly and easily learn everything that you need!
There is no other book like this out there. There is no overly technical information. Just simple, practical basics.
“Not only do I have a black thumb but I travel frequently and have a cat. I didn’t think it was possible to grow anything in my house. Raffaele helped me to understand that orchids are not intimidating. In fact, they are quite robust and require very little attention. I would highly recommend his advice and this book. If I can get an orchid to re-bloom you can too!”
-Meredith in Cleveland, Ohio
“I check your posts every day, and they’ve helped me create a year long plant oasis inside my home. Your moth orchid book saved my orchids, and I’ve loved sharing the things I’ve learned from you with my friends.”
-Shelby in London, Ontario
“I have never been able to rebloom an orchid by simply following the tag on my store purchased orchids. A friend recommended Raffaele, and I immediately began scanning his blog for info on orchids. I now realize why my orchids were not reblooming. I ditched the ice cube watering system that is somehow still all over the web and began following Raffaele’s instructions. Within weeks, I had a new flower spike! My plants are thriving, and I am a happy camper. Thank you, Ohio Tropics!
-Jackie in Winchester, Virginia
So be sure to check out Moth Orchid Mastery today! It is available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats. You will not regret it! I’ve helped literally hundreds of people with this little gem!
Have you experienced any of these orchid problems? Or maybe something not discussed in this post? Comment below.
How to Bring your Orchid Back to Life
Did you know there are over 250,000 different species of orchids around the world?
And that the number is continuously increasing because of our everlasting love for them?
Due to the popularity of orchids, these beautiful flowers are taking root in homes and gardens up and down the country and while they are known for being a relatively low maintenance plant there are occasions when they seem to be languishing.
When our orchid starts to decline we are all guilty of feeling at a loss over what to do. Surely there’s no way to bring it back to life?
Well, actually, there is! To know what to do to bring your orchid back from the brink you need to understand the plant’s life cycle and follow these simple tips.
Growing your orchid
If you have chosen to grow your own orchid, it’s essential that you take care of some of their very basic needs.
To begin with, they need a lot of sunlight – normally around 12 hours – but they hate direct sunlight which can cause some obvious problems.
They grow most successfully when sat in north and south facing windows and of course under artificial UV lights but they also need to be in temperatures of between 60 and 80 degrees and more often than not prefer dry, humid heat.
Contrary to what many believe, orchids actually don’t need to be watered that much – they thrive on only being watered once a week when their soil is dry.
Are you thinking of potting your orchid?
If you’ve decided to pot your orchid, it is essential that you understand that orchids require a large amount of circulation around their roots and therefore require certain potting soil.
The soil you choose must be able to both retain moisture and support the orchid, so choose carefully. The ideal orchid potting materials are wood chips, peat moss or ferns.
When potting the orchid, you should fill your pot with 3 to 6 inches of your chosen potting material and then lay the roots of the orchid over the soil. You should be extremely careful not to break or damage the roots otherwise it really is game over.
Put a little more of your potting material over the top of the roots to fill the pot. Do not under any circumstances pat down the potting soil, the orchid needs little pockets to allow it to breathe.
Getting your orchid back to life
If you see your orchid begin to struggle with the blooms falling off, don’t panic, orchids go through a bloom cycle so this doesn’t necessarily mean the death of your beloved plant. Providing you keep watering it as needed and caring for it, it should bloom again and keep growing.
Begin the process of bringing your orchid back to life by bringing it inside the house (if it isn’t already) and keep watering it once a week. Be sure not to let the roots dry out completely between each watering and remember these plants love a bit of humidity so consider buying a humidity grid or placing it more humid rooms – like the bathroom.
It is also recommended that you fertilize your orchid on a regular basis; once a month is enough and you can buy fertilizers and feeds which slowly drip into the plant over a few weeks to give them consistent nurturing.
You’ll also find that orchids begin to bloom again quite quickly in England because of our cool nights – they enjoy a sudden drop in temperature as this spurs on the cycle – so you’ll hopefully see a difference in your plant quite quickly.
Our main tip is to keep your orchid in your window as this will provide them with the ideal temperature and the right amount of sunlight, guaranteed to bring it back to its original state of health.
Understand your orchid
Orchids are complex plants and their process of bloom and no bloom will continue in some cases for many years. It is extremely normal and absolutely nothing to worry about so don’t throw yours out when the flowers die and keep an eye out for new shoots or stem between the leaves – you can take these as a cutting for a new plant or secure against support to allow to grow.
Follow these tips and you’ll be able to say that you are the master or resurrecting orchids.
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Orchid Growing Tips: How To Take Care Of Orchid Plants Indoors
Orchids are some of the most commonly grown houseplants. Provided they have proper growing conditions, it isn’t difficult to learn how to take care of orchid plants. Keep reading to get some indoor orchid care tips.
How Do I Take Care of an Orchid Flower?
Care of indoor orchid plants is easy once you learn how to grow them properly. These interesting flowers can be found in a range of colors and sizes depending on the variety. They make excellent accent plantings to nearly any home décor. Orchids require little care once all their basic needs are met such as light, temperature, and humidity.
Orchid Growing Tips
Most orchids require moist, well-draining conditions. There are several types of growing media that can be used with orchid plants—redwood or fir bark, sphagnum peat moss, rocks, cork, charcoal, sand, potting soil, etc. A basic mix for growing orchids consists of coarse perlite, fir bark, and sphagnum moss. You can also add charcoal but this is optional. Generally, the grade of bark is dependent on the type of orchid grown. For instance, phalaenopsis orchids are usually grown in coarse bark, cattleyas in medium bark, and young orchid plants are best grown in fine bark.
Orchids require shallow planting. Place orchids in an east to south-facing window or room. These plants prefer bright, indirect light. Insufficient light results in poor flowering. However, too much light can lead to leaf scorch.
Temperature is also important for indoor orchid care. While orchids tolerate cooler or warmer temperatures throughout their normal growing season, they need to be about 15 degrees cooler at night than during the day in order to bloom sufficiently.
Indoor Orchid Care Tips
Orchids need ample water but should be allowed to dry out some between waterings. One way to check for watering is by poking your finger about an inch into the growing media. If it’s dry, give it some water; otherwise, let it be.
Indoor orchid plants also need adequate humidity, about fifty to seventy percent. There are various ways to increase the humidity in your home. Place a water-filled saucer or tray of pebbles beneath plants, mist plants daily, or use a humidifier.
Fertilize orchids weekly or bi-weekly while they are producing new growth and decrease to monthly or bi-monthly intervals once they mature. Discontinue altogether once the plants go dormant.
Additional orchid care tips include repotting, which is normally done every other year. If your orchids suddenly stop blooming but have suitable light, temperature, and humidity, then repotting may be necessary.
Also keep an eye out for signs of pests or disease. Orchids are occasionally affected by mealybugs, scale, and aphids. These can usually be washed off or treated with insecticidal soap.
What are the ideal growing conditions for orchids?
That really depends on what sort of orchids you’d like to grow. There are almost 30,000 species of orchids on the planet with new ones being discovered fairly regularly. Those orchids come from different habitats too. Some come from tropical rainforests. Some come from cool and dry mountain regions, at high elevations. Some even come from wooded areas in the United States such as those of the Cypripedioideae family (“lady slippers”) and can live outdoors in some US regions, even though most people picture orchids as a greenhouse flower.
Despite the fact that there are so many kinds of orchids in the world, there are fewer that are available commercially, and fewer still that are commonly raised by those outside the orchid hobby. In fact, most people are only familiar with one or two types of orchids: Phalenopsis, or “Moth” orchids, which are the most common today, and Cattleya orchids, which were more common in decades past. Phalenopsis eventually took over in popularity because it is one of the fastest growing and easiest to care for orchids. It’s the variety you’ll most likely see in stores. Because of that, it’s the one I’m going to discuss here.
This is a picture of one of my Phalenopsis orchids, just so you know what sort of plant I’m talking about. The flowers can come in many different colors, most commonly white, pink, purple, and yellow. The ones you see in stores that are bright blue are actually dyed and won’t survive long.
Phalenopsis orchids (“Phals”) can be grown in bark or spaghnum moss. Which one you’ll have more success with depends on factors such as how humid your home is, how often you water, and whether or not you use a humidity tray or spritz your orchids in between waterings. (The moss dries out pretty quickly.) Phals can be kept in pots or mounted (such as onto a piece of bark) which mimics their natural habitat clinging to trees, but a potted orchid is easier for beginners to care for.
With pots, your most common choices are plastic or terra cotta. Plastic pots will hold moisture longer, while terra cotta pots will suck up more of the moisture. One advantage to plastic pots is that you can obtain clear plastic pots. Phalenopsis orchid roots contain cholorphyll, which is why they are bright green. Healthy roots are thick, green, and “juicy” inside, and they can actually process sunlight for the plant in the same way that the leaves do. Brown and withered roots are dead and should be pulled off gently during repotting.
Keeping them in a clear pot allows these roots to access sunlight, which is why I personally prefer using clear plastic pots for my Phalenopsis plants. However, if you live in an especially humid area, you might find that using terra cotta pots and a coarse bark mix will help reduce moisture problems that can cause root rot. Plastic basket pots are also a possibility that allows for good airflow and light to the roots, but would not be recommended for
especially dry areas.
Phalenopsis orchids like to get pretty close to drying out before they’re rewatered, but not completely dry. The easiest way to tell is to lift the pot when it’s empty and feel how heavy it is, then lift it again after watering. You’ll notice a big difference. Get used to that feeling. When the orchid is drying out, the pot will feel lighter and lighter. The one thing you don’t want to do is water on a schedule. An over-watered orchid is a dead orchid.
Wild Phalenopsis plants grow clinging to trees in the rainforest. That means that they are used to having lots of shade thanks to the dense forest canopy. In terms of your house, that means that too much light will burn them. The ideal setting for a Phalenopsis is in an east facing window, or slightly back from it (such as on a shelf). In a south facing window, you’ll want to move the plant back significantly and use sheer curtains or some other means of shading it. In a north facing window, your Phal may do well, but it also may not get enough light to rebloom, depending on your area. A west facing window is the worst choice, as it only receives the harsh late-day light of the sun, and not for long enough to be very beneficial to your Phal.
This is just the most basic overview. For more specifics on exact temperature, humidity, and light requirements (as in candles) I suggest the excellent care sheet by the American Orchid Society. Phalaenopsis Culture for Beginners
For an easy orchid care guide, I suggest this page from author Steve Frowine, world-renowned orchid expert. Any of his books, including “Orchids for Dummies” and “Moth Orchids” would be great sources as well.
How to Choose an Orchid Pot
Orchids can be grown very easily in Colorado. Out Sunny Climate averages more than 300 days of sunshine per year. But remember that our light levels are very high and can easily burn plants. We also suffer from very low humidity and increasing the humidity levels will help you grow healthy orchids.
Many orchids bloom during the winter months which is particularly gratifying while outdoor plants are dormant and the weather is cold.
LIGHT – A south or east facing window is ideal for most types of orchids. Direct sunlight on leaves should be avoided in most cases. Fluorescent lights work very well with leaves 3-6 inches from the tubes. In a greenhouse, light levels need to be reduced to about 50%. The leaves of most orchids should be a medium green color. Yellow-green leaves may indicate excessive light. Leaves that are a very dark green, thin and brittle are not receiving enough light.
WATER – Since most orchids do not grow in soil but instead are potted in a very porous mix, a thorough wetting of the roots is crucial. Water the plants generously but NEVER allow the plant to stand in water. Most types should become almost dry before watering again. This may require several days to a week, depending upon conditions. An easy way to determine when a plant requires water is by its weight. If the plant feels light, it may be time to water.
HUMIDITY – Suggested levels fall in the 40% to 60% range. Grouping plants together is one of the ways to increase humidity levels around them. Humidifiers are also used frequently especially during our cold, dry winter months. Extra watering will not compensate for low humidity.
TEMPERATURE – Orchids, for the most part, do well with the same temperatures that are normally found in the home. If temperatures are high, maintain extra air circulation to help cool the leaves. As a general rule, the temperature range for most orchids is between 50 and 90 degrees. There are a few types that will not initiate flower buds unless nighttime temps are allowed to fall to 50 degrees or below.
FERTILIZER – Orchids are not heavy feeders and their roots burn easily. Many orchids are potted in a bark mix which will require a high nitrogen fertilizer such as 30-10-10.
PESTS & DISEASES – Most orchids can develop several types of bacteria and fungal problems. Air movement is the best solution. Place a small fan in with your plants. This should prevent any of these problems. If you do notice what appears as a soft area on the leaves, try cinnamon powder sprinkled on an infected area or Neosporin ointment to help seal a wound.
For bug problems, first, try a straight rubbing alcohol mixed with a few drops of Ivory Liquid. Spray directly on bugs or soak the entire plant, roots and all, for 15 minutes. Any bug problem will take at least four applications over a one month period to do any good. If problems persist try Malathion or Orthene or Othenex. Read labels to see if these will kill the bugs you have. Othenex is also a fungicide and a miticide. Be very careful with the chemicals. If you need help identifying your disease or pests, bring your plant into our store and we will help you!
Orchids can be very rewarding with some types that have flowers lasting many months. They are no more difficult to grow than most other houseplants once you learn their cultural requirements.
Here is some more specific information for the different types we tend to have in stock:
How to Grow Orchids Indoors
Look beyond the pretty face when deciding which orchid to grow indoors. First, assess the growing conditions you can offer an orchid, and make your choice from there. Light, temperature, humidity, your watering tendencies, and fertilizing all play a role in growing orchids.
Light Requirements for Orchids
The single most important variable when growing orchids indoors is light. Orchids that prefer high light — unobstructed sunlight, streaming through a clear, south-facing window or into a greenhouse for 6 to 8 hours — include vandas and angraecums.
Medium-high light orchids, such as phragmipediums, oncidiums, and dendrobiums, grow in locations that are bright but not directly sunny. Eastern and western exposures are often medium-high light locations, although a western exposure may be warmer. The light intensity is the same, but the air temperature has increased.
Medium-low light is appropriate for phalaenopsis (moth orchids) and paphiopedilums. It may be an east- or west-facing window with no direct sun. It may also be an open northern exposure with no obstructions and some additional reflected light.
Low light is usually a limited northern exposure or any exposure where the light is blocked by an overhang, trees, or neighboring buildings. Jewel orchids grow in low light.
Generally, orchids can be grouped into three temperature categories: cool, warm, and intermediate. Buy a high-low thermometer to measure the temperature range in your orchid location. After that, choosing a suitable orchid is simple. As with light, some orchids easily adapt to more than one temperature range.
Most orchids we grow indoors come from the tropics, and most parts of the tropics are much more humid than the average living room. Orchids grow better if you can boost the humidity in their immediate growing area by grouping your plants together, or placing them on a dry well. Create a dry well by placing plastic lattice or pebbles on a tray, then adding water to just below the lattice or top of the pebbles. Place your potted plants on top of the lattice or pebbles. Learn even more tips for keeping your orchids healthy.
Image zoom Moth orchid
Anyone who has ever watered an orchid knows that most of what you pour in runs out almost immediately through the bottom of the pot. Because orchids are potted in bark mix rather than potting soil, they need to be watered differently.
The goal is to get each mix particle to absorb as much water as possible. To give the potting mix enough time to absorb water, place the entire pot in a bowl of water for 10 to 15 minutes, then lift it out and let the excess water drain before putting the pot back in place. This technique works well for orchids potted in clay. Since clay is porous, water penetrates the walls of the pot and is absorbed by the bark.
If your orchid is potted in plastic, place it in an empty bowl, then add water. If you place the plastic pot in an already full bowl of water, the water will push the bark up and out, floating it away from the orchid roots. In this case, add water to just below the lip of the pot and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then drain and return the orchid pot to its place.
If an orchid is potted in long-grain sphagnum moss or soilless mix, you can water until water runs out into the saucer below. However, sphagnum moss may feel dry on its surface while the interior may still be moist. Stick your finger an inch or two down into the moss to feel whether it’s truly dry.
How frequently you water your orchid depends on:
- The kind of orchid: Is it drought-resistant or not?
- The kind of pot: Porous pots dry out faster than nonporous pots.
- The kind of potting mix: Sphagnum moss needs water less frequently than bark mix.
- The air temperature: Plants dry out faster in warmer temperatures.
- The humidity: Plants dry out faster in drier air.
- The light: Plants growing in higher light need more water.
In general, water drought-tolerant orchids, such as cattleyas, oncidiums, and dendrobiums once a week. Water most others, such as miltonias, paphiopedilums, and phragmipediums every 4 to 5 days. Start there, and adjust up or down according to the conditions in your home.
Water orchids thoroughly each time, then let them dry out before watering again.
Most orchids are not heavy feeders. Many orchids bloom year after year with no fertilizer at all. During active growth, when new leaves are being produced, you may fertilize every other time you water at half the strength recommended on the fertilizer package. However, it’s important to deliver water without fertilizer at least once a month to flush excess fertilizer salts from the bark mix and avoid fertilizer burn to the roots.
Easiest to Grow: Moth orchids
Phalaenopsis orchids are the most loved and easiest orchids to grow indoors. Their common name is moth orchid because the flowers look like moths hovering in the air. Learn more about moth orchid.
Moth orchid flowers last for months, the longest-lasting orchid blooms. They grow best in medium-grain bark mix, warm temperatures, and low to medium light. Doritis orchids are closely related.
Moth orchids come in a wide range of flower colors, including white, pink, yellow, orange, deep rose, and lavender.
Moth orchids typically bloom once a year, but they may be coaxed into a second round of bloom. When the last flower fades, if the bloom stalk is still green, cut it just above the second or third node and wait a few weeks. This may stimulate growth in a dormant bud and produce a second bloom stalk that branches off below the cut.
Moth orchids grow slowly and need repotting once every 1 to 2 years. Wait to repot until the orchid has finished blooming and the tips of the aerial roots are green.
Which Orchid to Grow Indoors
Although some orchids are temperamental, many grow well in a home. Use these guidelines to help you choose the right orchid:
- I tend to overwater: Slipper orchids, such as Phaphiopedilum, Phragmipedium
- I ignore my plants: Cattleya, Oncidium, Dendrobium
- My house stays cool: Cymbidium, Odontoglossum, Masdevallia
- My house stays warm: Vanda, moth orchids, Angraecum
- The air in my house is dry: Cattleya, Dendrobium
- My house is dark: Jewel orchids, Paphiopedilum
- I only have a small windowsill for growing: Mini-cattleyas, Pleurothallis, miniature moth orchids
- I don’t understand fertilizers: Moth orchid, Cattleya
- I’m afraid of orchids: Moth orchid, Dendrobium
- Best orchids grow outdoors in summer: Vanda, Cymbidium, Cattleya
- My pet chews my plants: Orchids with thick leaves such as moth orchids, Cattleya, Vanda
- By Deb Wiley
I never thought I could learn how to grow orchids. Ever. Their reputation for being finicky scared me off… after all, who wants to spend money on a plant that practically assures you it will not survive! Then one day I was at the store, and saw some inexpensive, beautiful flowering orchid plants for less than $10. I decided that for that price, they would make a gorgeous home accent for just awhile, and that was worth it. Even if it dies eventually. Not only did it survive, but it thrived and bloomed multiple times! The biggest surprise? Once I got the conditions right, it took less care than any of my other house plants. So I am here to dispel the notion that you can’t grow orchids. Forget the snobby attitude we all assumed surrounded this regal and sophisticated plant! Here is how to grow orchids, even for beginners!
First, choose the right orchids. There are 3 types of orchids that I feel are easy to grow for anyone!
Moth Orchid – Phalaenopsis
Moth orchids are the ones I grow, and the most common ones you can buy, They are relatively inexpensive, gorgeous, and less picky than most. They prefer medium to bright light, watering every 10-14 days, and light fertilizer for orchids. They often are seen in bright, dyed colors which I find brash and far from the elegant flowers they are meant to be, but to each his own! My favorite are white with a pink or green throat. The blooms can last for months. Photo by ‘Flowers by Suzanne‘.
Here is a white Phalaenopsis orchid with a yellow throat. This is a sophisticated, easy to grow orchid, but with a touch of informality. Photo by ‘Southern Living‘.
Dendrobium orchid usually have larger flowers, and are the kind most often seen at a florist or in professional arrangements. They have the same basic requirements as moth orchids, but prefer a bright light for the best blooms. All white Dendrobium are the most amazing flower! The flowers usually last about a month on the plant.
Cymbidium orchid are an easy care houseplant that enjoys bright light and a little more water than the other two… once a week, or even every 5 days when the air is dry. They can be brought outside during the summer months, but usually need cold to bloom. They bloom most often in winter and early spring. Photo by ‘My Orchids Journal‘.
In my opinion, (and I am no orchid expert) there are four conditions you have to get right in order to be successful with orchids. Keep in mind, different types of orchids vary in their needs to some degree, but all of these are important, no matter which variety you choose.
Potting Soil for Orchids
The best soil is the orchid mix you buy at the nursery… largely bark pieces, it drains well and has an acid base. Orchid aficionados everywhere are going to gasp, but I never repotted my orchids. You should, because one of mine did eventually give up, probably because the soil was drying out too fast. However, orchid mix is so light, (cheaper to ship) that most plants you bring home from the store are probably in a reasonably decent soil… In any case, don’t use regular potting mix… Also, buy a liquid fertilizer meant for orchids, and apply as directed once a month.
How to Water Orchids
This is the part most people get wrong. Since the orchid soil mix is basically bark, it feels dry a lot of the time and some people tend to overwater. Make sure you water no more than is suggested for your orchid type, but never let it dry out an inch or two below the surface. There is a cheater method, that again, make orchid experts cringe, called the ice cube method. It involves putting one or two ice cubes on the surface of the soil every other day, and allowing it to slowly melt. The idea is that it allows the bark soil to absorb the water without it just running straight through. Many, many people swear by this method of watering orchids! I’ve used it, but I have an issue remembering every other day. Either way works, or once every two weeks, submerge the whole pot in a sink of water, let sit 15 minutes, then drain.
Orchids do like a little humidity, especially in the winter when heating zaps the air of moisture. I grow mine in a bathroom, or over the kitchen sink so the humidity is taken care of for me there! Another option is to mist a few times a day, or to create a pebble tray for your orchids to sit on. Fill the tray with water to just below the tops of the pebbles, and set the pots on top. This will keep the air humid around the plants. Use distilled water to keep from getting that yucky white deposit on your pretty pebbles. (Dollar store sells pretty pebbles!) Here is a YouTube video from ‘Growing Wisdom’ on how to make humidity trays for your plants!
Lighting for Orchids Indoors
This is the most important condition to get right for your orchids to bloom. Medium to bright light is best. I grow mine in a frosted glass window, so it always gets bright light without getting direct sun. West or east facing is ideal, and not too far from a window.
Hint: How to make orchids bloom – Many orchids can be promoted to bloom by a drop in temperature. I think mine bloomed so well because they were in a window, so nighttime temps next to the glass get cooler.
Learn how to grow orchids! And remember, you can raise them in one area of the home, and move them just for special occasions to other rooms for entertaining. Don’t forget to Pin your favorites or our tall pin at the top so that you can show nursery staff what you are looking for! We know you will also love our posts on Bath & Shower Plants and Tropical Plants you can Grow Indoors!
Image Credits: flowers by suzanne, Southern Living, My Orchids Journal, Growing Wisdom
The Blooming Orchid has a little bit in common with the Bended Knee position as you are both facing each other while on just one knee. It’s also one of those positions that you’ve probably never tried before. ()
To set it up, both you and your man are going to be facing each other on your knees. You should be so close that you are hugging each other. You are then going to both raise your right knees so that your right thighs are parallel to the bed, and your lower legs are vertical with your right feet firmly on the bed. This will allow your man to easily enter you.
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If he is much taller in this position, then you need to put a pillow/cushion under your knee to raise yourself up high enough.
What The Girl Does In The Blooming Orchid Position
When you first get into the Blooming Orchid position, you may find it to be a little awkward. You won’t be able to have particularly fast sex or long strokes. If you’re looking for faster sex then you may want to try the Fast Fuck position and if it’s longer strokes you’re after, then Doggy Style and even Missionary are great positions.
But the closeness will make up for this. The Blooming Orchid is more of an intimate position for you and your man. You can push yourself onto your man with each short stroke or push back against him while he is grinding on you. By the way, the Coital Alignment Technique is great if you love your man grinding on you. You should wrap your arms around his waist and back or put them under his arms and hold onto his shoulders. You can also kiss him on his neck, cheeks, lips and ears. You can also put your hands on his butt to pull him into you with each stroke.
What The Guy Does In The Blooming Orchid Position
Your man just needs to get into a nice steady rhythm when doing the Blooming Orchid. He’ll find that he can’t take long strokes because of the position that he’s in but instead has to make shorter ones.
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Your man can also put his arms around you. He’ll find that he’s in the perfect position to run his fingers through your scalp or even lightly tug on your hair. If you’d like some rough sex ideas, then check out this guide. He can also put his hands on your butt too and pull you in with each stroke. He can also keep you constantly pulled against him while he grinds on your clit with his pubic bone.
Things To Consider When Performing The Blooming Orchid Position
The Blooming Orchid does not need a lot of flexibility. But because it looks a little different or even weird to some, not that many have tried it. I have managed to get some thoughts on it from those who have:
- The Blooming Orchid is ideal for when you want to try something different while having slow, passionate sex.
- You will find having anal sex in the Blooming Orchid position to be tough. You can learn more about anal sex in this guide and learn some great anal sex positions here.
- If you are flexible, then try leaning either forward or backward with your man to change the angle of penetration.
- Don’t forget to switch knees if you find it getting uncomfortable.
- Book Ends – This one doesn’t require you to raise one leg and is a little easier to perform.
- Bended Knee – Very similar, but you will be resting one leg on top of his thigh.
- Dancer – Again you need to raise one leg, but, this time, you’ll be standing.
You can view even more positions where you or your man are on your knees here.
Sean’s Thoughts On The Blooming Orchid Sex Position
I like the Blooming Orchid position. I am not super flexible, and I still find it easy to perform. It’s perfect for when I want to have slower, more sensual sex without using a traditional position like Spooning.
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