For best results follow the care tag on your plant. While your plant is in bloom, it requires minimal care and needs just a little water, indirect light and comfortable room temperatures to thrive.
To water your orchid, take it out of the clay or ceramic pot then place the plant in its plastic grower’s pot in the sink under a slow-running tap for 10-15 seconds on each side of plant while avoiding crown and leaves. See alternate watering instructions below. Once watered, drip dry before returning to decorative pot. Don’t allow the orchid’s potting medium to be constantly wet or plant to stand in water. Most orchids (but not all) like to almost dry out between waterings but should never get bone dry. You can often tell how moist the potting medium is by its weight. A heavy pot is a a well-watered plant that doesn’t need to be watered again soon.
Our orchids like medium to bright indirect light and moderate room temperatures of 65–75°F found in most homes. Avoid extreme temperatures and drafts. Cymbidiums and Epidendrums can tolerate being outdoors in moderate climates like Southern California’s, but all of our other orchids should be kept inside. There is no need to fertilize to enjoy the first flowers. Enjoy!
Phalaenopsis, Nobile Dendrobiums, Epidendrums, and Miltonias should be watered every 10-15 days. Allow to almost dry out between waterings.
Exotics (Intergenerics and Oncidiums) dry out quickly and should be watered every 7-12 days. Allow potting medium to almost dry out between waterings.
Mini Phalaenopsis should be watered every 7-10 days and can be allowed to almost dry out between waterings.
Paphiopedilums and Zygopetalums like to be watered about every 7-10 days. Keep these orchids moist, but not soggy, and don’t allow to dry out.
Cymbidiums should be watered every 4-7 days. Keep this orchid moist, but not soggy, and don’t allow to dry out.
*If you live in an area with higher temperatures or lower humidity, you may need to water more often. You can also make a humidity tray by placing the plants on a tray of gravel, partially filled with water, so that the pots never sit in water.
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 and Shade
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.
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.
Click here for more tips on caring for healthy orchids.
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.
Growing Orchid Plants Outdoors Information Overview
Properly selected and cared for, orchid plants can be among the showiest and most exotic of all garden or patio plants. There are many areas throughout the southern and central United States where temperatures for a good portion of the year are compatible with the needs of many orchids. Some coastal areas are nearly frost-free year round and make perfect climates for growing orchids outdoors. In these areas, with some protection from excessive sun, wind and rain, lovely orchid plants can be successfully cultivated and cared for on the patio or as a part of the landscape. In frost-free areas, the plants can be left in place all year. Where frost or temperatures below 40º threaten, plants can be brought inside to be grown on windowsills, under lights or on an unheated patio where the coldest temperatures are avoided. The trick is in selecting orchid plants that are already adapted to your particular area. It is also a good idea to consider some basic care and culture needs of the orchid plants.
Growing Orchids Outdoors
Light and Shade
No flowering plant will do well in deep shade, and orchids are no exception. Orchids generally come from environments where dappled light is the norm. The hotter the sun, the more midday shade is required. In humid or coastal areas, more sun can be given. The required amount of light will also dictate your selection of plants. If you can offer only one light situation, select only plants that can do well under those conditions.
In most cases, you will be limited to whatever Mother Nature provides, eased only by the amount of shade you supply. Generally, there are many lovely orchids that will do well in the temperature range from 40º to 90ºF. Your particular temperature conditions will influence your choice of orchid plants.
This will depend greatly on your orchid plant selection, and whether the plants are grown under cover. In general, orchids require at least some air circulation around their roots yet are intolerant of excessive moisture at the roots.
Most areas with satisfactory temperatures will have adequate humidity. Anywhere from 40 percent and up will do. Only in the deserts will it be unsatisfactory. In such areas, grouping orchids with other plants can create a microclimate that will suit them.
Fertilize regularly, at a low dosage of approximately one-quarter to one-half strength, with a fertilizer appropriate to the potting mix in which the orchid plants are grown. One highly recommended fertilizer is Green Jungle Orchid Food, especially formulated to work with rain, distilled, reverse osmosis water or water low in alkalinity. Fertilize with Green Jungle every time you water, all year round.
Popular Outdoor Orchid Plants
Cattleya Alliance Hybrids – Especially good are hybrids with Laelia anceps in their ancestry; half sun, temperature-tolerant.
Cymbidiums – Only in areas with cool summer nights, not for the Gulf states; nearly full sun.
Dendrobiums – Among the many choices, Indian and Australian types best; half sun, temperature-tolerant.
Encyclia Species and Hybrids – Half sun, very temperature-tolerant.
Epidendrums – Especially the brilliant reed-stem types; need almost full sun, temperature-tolerant.
Oncidiums – Mexican species, or higher-elevation types; bright shade to half sun.