you already know how to care for orchids, if you grow house plants

Learning to how to care for orchids is easy.

Anyone who has houseplants already knows how to grow orchids. They just need light, house temperatures, water and a little fertilizer.

It's easy to learn how to care for orchids. Dendrobium OrchidStunning Dendrobium Orchids
Image by FASerra from Pixabay

how to care for orchids

When you start out with orchids, buy mature plants.

Many orchids take several years before they flower. With mature plants you can enjoy their beautiful flowers without waiting for years.

Phalaenopsis are an exception, they flower while they are very young. But even a young phalaenopsis may take a year before they flower.

So to be safe, purchase orchid plants that are already flowering.

Watering Orchids

Correct watering is the most important part of orchid care.

I learned the hard way how to care for orchids, learn from my mistakes.

Watering is the most important aspect of taking care of orchidsDon't Water If the Pot Feels Heavy
  • Water early in the day to prevent leaf diseases.

Moisture on the leaves during cool night temperatures can cause leaf diseases.

Take special care when watering phalaenopsis to not get water down in the crown where the leaves attach together. This may cause crown rot and the eventual demise of the plant.

More about Phalaenopsis Care

  • Water until you see water coming out of the bottom of the pot.

Thorough watering will flush the extra salts out of the pot. Salt build-up in the pot may cause the roots to burn.

After you have watered, wait until the extra water had drained out of the pot. Then pick up the pot and feel how heavy it is.

Give the plant a chance to dry out before you water again. If the roots stay constantly wet, they will rot and die. This is so important in learning how to care for orchids!

  • Don't water again until the potting medium is dry on top. The pot should feel light, compared to how heavy it was after watering.

Not enough water is better than, too much water.

water Epiphyte and terrestrial orchids differently

The epiphyte orchids grow hanging onto tree trunks, branches or on rocks. They have developed a root system that can store water. This type of orchid needs to dry out between waterings.

The cattleya and dendrobium orchids have an enlarged stem, called a pseudobulb to store water. They must dry out completely between waterings.

Phalaenopsis, also live in trees. The do not have an enlarged stem, but their roots can store extra water. Let the top of their potting mix dry, but they will still have moisture down in the pot.

Terrestrial orchids in the wild grow on the ground. They have a finer root system that is unable to store extra water. They need to stay a bit moist at all times, but not soppy wet. Lady Slippers are a terrestrial orchid.

Too much water is a common cause of orchid death.

Fertilizing Orchids

Use an orchid fertilizer three times during the warm growing months.

  • Make sure there is moisture around the roots of the orchid before applying fertilizer.
  • It the plant is dry without enough water in its system, the fertilizer will be too strong and will result in burning the orchid.
  • If the plant is dry, water it one day and fertilize it the following day to prevent fertilizer burn.

Fertilizer is called "plant food" but it is just actually salts and minerals. Plants pick up water and minerals (fertilizer) through the roots, but they require carbohydrates for food.

The carbohydrates (food) for the plant are produced in the leaves of the plant by photosynthesis. Photosynthesis only works only in the presence of light.

what do the fertilizer numbers mean?

Light for Orchids

Light is the second most important item in how to care for orchids.

Lady Slipper Orchids May Grow In Low LightLady Slippers Grow In Low Light

Orchids need light to make them grow and flower. A lack of light means not enough food to produce the beautiful orchid flowers.

  • East and south facing windows are good for growing orchids.

Growing orchids need bright, diffused light. That's how to care for orchids.

In nature they grow in or under trees in dappled sunlight. Rarely would you find them growing in the direct sun.

Our homes provide the diffused light they require.

  • You should place them at or near a window, in a porch, patio or in a sun room.

too much light

Cattleya Orchids Require High LightCattleyas Require High Light
  • West windows get too hot and may cause the plant to burn.

Only use west windows that have an awnings or shade cloth.

The danger of too much hot sun is that the plant will transpire (evaporate water from the leaves) in an effort to cool itself.

If the orchid plant can't keep up or if it runs out of water, the leaves will burn.

The only orchid maybe, safe to grow in a west window would be a dendrobium orchid or the mule-ear type of oncidium because they have heavy leaves.

More Information

Temperature for Growing Orchids

Orchids like the same temperatures people enjoy, 60-80 degrees. That makes how to care for orchids in the home easy.

Cattleyas, dendrobiums, oncidiums and hybrid paphiopedilums like 65-75 during the day and 55-60 at night.

Phalaenopsis, vandas, and tropical paphiopedilums like 70-85 during the day 60-65 at night.

  • Many orchids will not flower properly if the temperature is maintained below 60 degrees.

However, paphiopedilums (Lady Slippers) and cymbidiums are cooler growing orchids. They would be happy at 50-55 during the night, and 60-70 during the day.

  • During the winter keep the cool loving orchids growing near the window glass. They like the cool temperatures to promote flowering.

Even during summer nights move your Lady Slippers up close to the glass to enjoy the cooler temperatures.

  • Keep the orchids that like it warmer away from the window, so they get the warmth from the room.

Move your phalaenopsis away from the windows at night time, if you live where there are cold winters.

types of orchids

Cattleya Orchids require a lot of light to grow and flower properly.Cattleya Orchid

There are more Types of Orchids throughout the world than any other plants.

The orchids suitable for home culture are;

  • Phalaenopsis
  • Cattleyas
  • Dendrobiums
  • Paphiopedilums
  • Oncidiums
  • Cymbidiums

Orchids are so amazing and beautiful. All the different types give the gardener a wide selection of forms and colors.

Knowing how to care for orchids is so rewarding.

the joy of growing orchids is a wonderful garden gift!

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