Orchids are among the most commonly grown houseplants. They are super easy to care for, provided that you at least know a little about these particular plants. Care can vary depending on the species of orchid you have, but there are some general guidelines for keeping your plant healthy and blooming, regardless of the orchid you own.
Create The Right Environment
Orchids need pots with drainage holes, since they do not tolerate standing in water and are very prone to root rot. If your orchid is in a pot without drainage holes, repot them immediately.
It is best to have fast-draining potting soil designed specifically for Orchids. You can choose between the soil that is bark-based or the one which is moss-based. Bark based soil drains really well and will help with preventing overwatering, it can, however, break down quickly. Moss-based soil holds moisture better, but that just means that you may need to be more careful with watering your orchid and it might need repotting more often.
Orchids require some airflow to keep the roots healthy. It is best to place your orchid near a window where a gentle breeze can enter, turn on the ceiling fan or place a fan near your orchid. A gentle breeze will keep the air from becoming stagnant inside the pot and will keep your orchid thriving.
Orchids do quite well with a more forgetful kind of owner, nothing kills an orchid faster than being overwatered. Make sure your Orchid has a fast-draining soil like mentioned above. The roots of an Orchid need to be well aerated to function properly or they may rot and die.
It is best to thoroughly water an Orchid once a week. Allow the soil to dry slightly before watering again. If you are worried about over watering, you can always use an ice block to water your plant by simply placing it on the potting soil near the base of your plant.
The temperature range of your orchid will depend on the species. If you are unsure, maintain your orchid somewhere in the range of 60-75°F (16-24°C). It is best to learn the range of your specific Orchid if you would like it to thrive.
Some Orchids require the temperature to drop as much as 10 degrees between day and night to start flowering.
Orchids are divided into three groups depending on the amount of light they require to thrive. These groups are Low (1000 to 1500 foot-candles), medium (2000 foot-candles) and high (3000 foot-candles).
Most orchids require at least six hours of light per day. Some Orchids can thrive in less and some need more, but more light exposure increases the likelihood of your orchid flowering. Less exposure than the recommended six hours decreases the likelihood of your Orchid flowering, but it will still grow.
To test if your Orchid gets enough light, firstly look at the leaf color. The lush, dark green color seen in most houseplants is not desired in an orchid, even though it is beautiful to behold. Dark green leaves in an Orchid signal that the light intensity of the room is too low for the plant to flower, a lighter, grass green color with some yellow tones is desired in a healthy Orchid.
Secondly, you can do the shadow test. Simply put your hand about six inches (15.24cm) above the plant so that a shadow falls onto the leaves. If the edges of the shadow are sharp, the light is sufficient, if the edges are soft it indicates your plant is on the borderline of low light and if there is no shadow, the light intensity is too low for the Orchid to flower.
Do not leave your Orchid in direct sunlight for too long. Direct sunlight can cause leaf burns which will bleach the leaves to white and ultimately kill your Orchid. To increase light, you can invest in artificial growing lights to supplement natural light.
Orchids do not require large amounts of fertilizer. However, if you want to see regular blooms, it is best to fertilize your plant on a regular basis with a weak fertilizer. You can fertilize on a weekly basis with a 20-10-20 fertilizer if desired, but make sure to flush your plant with clean water once a month to get rid of the buildup of salts from the fertilizer.
Orchids are commonly found growing wild in tropical rainforests and thus appreciate adequate humidity. Orchids prefer a humidity level of 50% or more. In most homes, the humidity level is far below that. Raising the humidity will increase the likelihood of your orchid flowering. .
There are some tricks you can use to increase the humidity around your plant. You can use a humidifier close to your plant, place your plant on a tray filled with water and flat pebbles (make sure your plant isn’t in the water) and lastly you can group your orchid and other plants together to increase the humidity. Make sure that there is still enough airflow to prevent bad bacteria and mold from growing.
Too Much Direct Sunlight
When Orchids are placed in direct sunlight, they can ultimately die from the exposure. The sun will bleach the leaves turning them white and ultimately black. Orchids are best adapted to strong indirect light.
The fastest way to kill an Orchid is to let it stand in water. Standing in water starves the roots of oxygen and results in them rotting away. This can kill your plant if not corrected.
Orchids come from areas of high humidity, if humidity is not kept high, the plant may dry out. This will result in damage to your plant and potentially death. To maintain high humidity, read the humidity section above.
Wrong Potting Material
The roots of orchids need airflow to be healthy. If potting soil is too heavy, it can smother the roots resulting in your plant looking sick or even dying. Make sure to use the correct potting soil for Orchids to avoid this problem.
An imbalance of heat, humidity, airflow and light
For your plant to be at its best, you will have to strive for a balance of airflow, light, humidity and heat. If they are out of balance, your orchid will not grow as it should and may never flower. To correct these imbalances, you will need to keep an eye on all the elements in your Orchids environment and move it if necessary.
All four of these elements affect each other significantly. Without airflow, heat will rise as well as humidity. Without indirect sunlight providing some warmth, it will be too cold and thus result in low humidity. If the airflow is too strong, both heat and humidity may be too low for your plant to be happy.