Orchids 101

Orchids look intimidating, but don’t let them scare you off! In the proper conditions, you’ll have no trouble taking care of this popular houseplant.

Orchids are in the same family as air plants. They have roots, but they don’t get their nutrients through them. The roots are only used to hold onto trees or rocks – they get their nutrients through water. In the tropics, they are found in sheltered spots near rivers.

Location, Location, Location

You will want to try to recreate their natural habitat as best as your can. Since they grow in sheltered spots in the wild, find a spot in your room that gets bright but indirect light. They do not like full sun. Keep them away from central heating and drafty spots.

Best Care Practices

Temperature

65° to 73°

After it has finished flowering, move it to a cooler location, which encourages new flowers to grow. When the new flower spike is visible, move it back into its warmer location.

Sunlight

Bright, indirect light

Fertilizing

Fertilize twice a month from March to October, using an orchid-specific fertilizer. We recommend Espoma Organic Orchid! Bloom Booster. Reduce to only once a month the rest of the year.

Watering

Your orchid will probably come into your possession in a grower’s pot. We recommend keeping it in this pot to make watering easier. You can set this container inside a more decorative cover pot!

  1. Fill your sink or another container with water.
  2. Once a week, remove the grower’s pot from the cover pot. Submerge the pot in the water, but don’t let it go over the edge of the pot.
  3. After 15 minutes, take your orchid out of the water and let the excess water drain out.
  4. Place your orchid back in the cover pot, but keep an eye on it for a bit to make sure no water is pooling in the bottom. Their roots don’t like to sit in water – they need to breathe.

After Flowering

When a bloom has finished, cut the flower spike off above the first bract. A bract is a modified leaf on the flower spike that can grow into a new flower spike.

A bract on an orchid’s flower spike

Repotting

Your orchid will not need to be repotted for a long time. Only when your potting medium has completely decayed or when your pot is filled completely with roots is it time for your plant to find a new home. It is natural for some of the roots to grow outside of the pot because that’s how they are in the wild.

When you do repot, use an orchid-specific potting mix. We recommend Espoma Organic Orchid Mix. You might want to try to find another nursery pot so that you can continue to water it easily. Don’t repot your orchid while it’s flowering.