Orchid Care: Growing and Caring for Orchids Indoors & Out

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Monopodial orchids have a single, upright stem, with leaves arranged opposite each other along the stem. The flower stem appears from the base of the uppermost leaves. Orchids with this growth habit include the phalaenopsis and vandas. The more common growth habit is sympodial. These orchids grow horizontally, sending out new shoots from the old rhizome. Leaves and flower scapes form at the top of the new shoots.


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Many sympodial orchids form pseudobulbs, which are swollen shoots that store water and nutrients to help the plant survive periods of prolonged drought. Sympodial orchids include cattleya, cymbidium, oncidium and dendrobium.

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Orchids can also be classified by their native habitat, which gives an indication of the temperature, moisture and light levels they prefer. They are happiest in an east or southeast window where the light is not too intense. They are generally happy in a south-facing window, though they may need a little shading during high summer. Cattleyas and some oncidiums grow where days are dry and relatively cool. Their need for light is high, so they should be placed in a sunny, south-facing window. These orchids prefer filtered light that is not too intense. With 30, different species of orchids, it is impossible to give general care and cultivation instructions.

However, how an orchid looks can provide clues to its preferences for light, water, and growing medium. If the plant has few leaves, or leathery leaves like most cattleyas and oncidiums , it's likely the plant needs a high-light environment. If the leaves are soft and limp like some phalaenopsis and most paphiopedilum , the plants are probably very light-sensitive, and should not be placed in a sunny south-facing window.

If the orchid has fat pseudobulbs, it should be watered sparingly, and should be grown on coarse chunks of bark or lava rock. If the orchid has no pseudobulbs, it may require more frequent watering, or should be grown in a more moisture-retentive growing medium, such as sphagnum moss. For best results, they should get 12 to 14 hours of light each day, year-round. In a tropical environment, the duration and intensity of natural light does not vary as it does in temperate climates.

For this reason, you may need to move your orchids around, and supplement with artificial light to keep them happy during the winter months. South- and east-facing windows are usually the best spot for orchids. West windows can be too hot, and northern ones are usually too dark. Orchids should be positioned no more than 6 to 8 inches away from a set of 4-foot fluorescent bulbs.

How to properly care for Orchids

Opinions vary as to the benefits of cool white, warm white, and grow light bulbs. The new full-spectrum bulbs are probably the best all-around choice. Some orchids with very high light requirements, such as vandas and cymbidiums, may need high-intensity discharge lighting in order to flower. For more information, read Growing Under Lights. Growing media: Terrestrial orchids, such as paphiopedilums and some cymbidiums, grow in soil.

But most tropical orchids are epiphytes, which means that they grow in the air, rather than in soil. Their fleshy roots are covered with a layer of white cells called velamen, which acts as a sponge to absorb water. The coating also protects the roots from heat and moisture loss. An orchid growing medium must provide good air circulation and permit water to drain very quickly.

It must also give the roots something secure to cling to. Depending on the type of orchid, they can be happy growing in peat moss, fir bark , dried fern roots, sphagnum moss , rock wool, perlite, cork nuggets, stones, coconut fiber, lava rock or a blend that combines several of these materials.

Some epiphytic orchids can also be wired onto slabs of tree fern or cork. As a general rule, fir bark nuggets are the most popular growing medium. Watering: Most orchids can tolerate drought far better than they can tolerate excess moisture.


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  5. Nothing kills an orchid faster than letting it sit in a water-logged pot. Without adequate air circulation, the plant will suffocate and die. As a very general rule, orchids should be watered once a week. She is flowering right now, so I want to wait to repot, but am pretty worried about these … What is it?

    The person who gave me this could not tell me what it is. I only suspect that it is an orchid. DO I Remove It? I just received a beautiful Phalaenopsis as a suprise from my husband. She is my first orchid, but I have been wanting one for years.

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    Was encased in a see-thru plastic pot which was in a clay pot. I removed the plastic and now is in the small clay pot. Do I ever change size of clear slotted draining … my window is facing west in the condo i live in.

    A comprehensive guide to orchid care

    How often should i water the plant? My window is facing west in the condo i live in. Should they be transplanted? If so, what kind of soil do you use? Mom's … Pruning 2 long, dried stems from my orchid. The leaves on the plant still look healthy and strong. The long cascading bloom stems are dried and wood like. Have never seen this before. I want an automated watering system. I can do an overhead sprinkler, a mist or a drip system. Would my orchid grow and thrive if I planted it in the hollow stump? Should I cut the flower stems to encourage healthier leaf growth.

    Can you please tell me whether and HOW … Click here to write your own. Leaves Up or Leaves Down? Greetings, and Thanks in Advance! I bought my first orchid, a Phalaenopsis , and its leaves were turned down: a nice, healthy, succulent green.

    Growing Orchids Indoors: Tips On Care Of Orchid Plants Indoors

    Do I cut them off or put them in a big pot. The flowers bloomed and dropped off in the usual manner. I have this orchid which I 'inherited' from a family member who gave up on it as it flowered once and then she wasn't sure … Is it dead? I have a Paphiopedlium orchid, I believe. I got it as a gift and I am sure it was purchased at a grocery store. It was doing just fine until recently. What happened? The plant main leaf of the orchid is beautiful and green. I have had the plant 3 weeks. It had open blooms when I got it and today the blooms are … Fertilizer? I saw a video of a Caribbean Orchid preserve?

    One picture intrigued me so much, to me it was awesome. Is this normal?