Long considered the darlings of flowering plants for their exotic appearance, orchids are relatively easy to grow. They are available in nearly endless flower types and colors. The blossoms tend to be long-lasting and many are fragrant.
When purchasing, consider choosing a plant in bloom so you are familiar with the flower style, color and any fragrance. Small seedling plants can take several years to reach blooming size, but are often worth the wait.
Light: Orchids need bright light, as much as they can take without burning. Foliage should be yellow-green, not dark green. A southern exposure in winter and eastern in summer are best.
Feeding: Most orchids will flourish on monthly fertilizer applications. Most literature recommends this schedule. This is often more than what is needed, so if you forget, mark your calendar, skip a month and resume the next month. Use food specifically labeled for orchids; do not use one containing urea, a form of nitrogen.
Humidity: Humidity should be 40% to 60%. Group plants together or provide a humidity tray to make a ‘mini environment’ for your orchid.
Water: Let the potting medium dry thoroughly, then water copiously enough that water runs out the drain holes. Consider a 10 minute dunk once or twice a year, especially if your orchid is in a clay pot. How often you should water will depend on the season of the year and the environment in your home.
Temperature: Temperature ranges vary between orchid varieties. Most often our normal yearly temperatures suffice. To encourage your plant to bloom, the temperature should drop 10 to 20 degrees at night, since orchids prefer warm days but cooler nights. .
Potting: Most orchids do not grow in soil. In the wild they grow attached to trees or rocks or decaying plants. Roots take moisture and nutrition directly from the air, so they need plenty of air circulation both above ground and below. In your home, use a potting medium labeled for use with orchids such as bark chips appropriate for the orchid variety you have. Site in space with good air movement .A room with a ceiling fan is good.
Orchids are relatively free of insect and disease problems. Watch for stickiness anywhere on the plant or pot. This might indicate insect pests such as mealy bug, scale, or spider mites on your plant. Insecticidal soaps should keep these in check.
Growing orchids can be habit forming! Consider joining a local orchid club to connect with fellow enthusiasts. Contact Linder's for helpful growing assistance.