Beginner Orchid Care

Welcome to Heavenlyorchid's beginner orchid care page. Here we go over some of the important and crucial things to know about growing orchids if you are new to orchid growing. Orchids have some of the most beautiful and long lasting flower blooms of any plants. The dazzling array of gorgeous flowers in the orchid family are enchanting, mesmerizing, and captivating. A century ago, orchids were exotic plants that only the wealthy upper class could afford. Today orchids are affordable for all walks of society, and available at many retail locations, from grocery stores to garden centers and specialty orchid vendors at your local Farmer's market.  And here at, you have free access to a wealth of knowledge about orchid care  to guide you to becoming an accomplished orchid grower. 

Beginner Orchid Care-Basics

Most of the orchids in cultivation today are mainly epiphytes and lithophytes, meaning that they do not grow in soil.  Sometimes they are referred to as air plants. Many orchids originate in tropical regions. These factors make orchids and their care a little different than other plants that you may have grown. The first thing that you may have noticed with your new orchid is that it is not grown in soil. Most likely your orchid came growing in either wood bark or sphagnum moss. Whichever medium that your orchid came in was chosen by the grower and is the correct medium for your orchid to thrive in. Do not take it out and place it in soil. Orchid roots need a lot of air circulation and are generally grown in wood bark, sphagnum moss, or LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate), the latter being mainly used in self watering systems

Beginner Orchid Care-Light Requirements

There are many species of orchids and they have varying degrees of light requirements. Phalaenopsis, Miltoniopsis,  Masdevallias, and some Paphiopedilums will do best in low light to bright shade conditions. Oncidiums, Brassias, Cattleyas, and Miltonias like brighter indirect light conditions and Vanda's, Brassavolas, and some Cattleyas like very bright light conditions. The one thing in common with all orchids is that they generally do not like direct hot sunlight. Direct sun will burn the leaves of most orchids and likely kill your orchid if you do not take remedial action immediately. So, choose a location in your home where your orchid can receive bright indirect light.  If you cannot find a perfect location, you can always supplement with artificial light

Temperature Requirements 

Most orchids originate from tropical or semi-tropical regions and like warmer temperatures. Orchids like temperatures between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 30 Celsius) When choosing a location for your orchid, avoid cold draughty areas as they do not like sudden drops in temperature. Although you may think of tropical regions as being sunny and warm year round, many parts of the outlying tropics become cool and dry in the winter with temperatures dropping into the mid 50's degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). Some orchids, particularly many varieties of Phalaenopsis need this temperature drop to induce it's flowering cycle. If you have been growing Phalaenopsis but having some difficulty with getting it to rebloom, then you may need to find a way to accommodate for a temperature drop between 55 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit (13-17 Celsius), particularly at night. 

Beginner Orchid Care-
Water Requirements

In the tropics where many orchids originate from, there is a distinct rainy season and dry season. In the wild, orchids can go long periods of time without serious rainfall and survive off of dew drops and humidity in the air. That's because orchids have a sensitive outer skin called a velamen that can absorb minute particles of moisture. In cultivation, however, orchids may be in homes with dry heat during the winter and are not in the canopy of trees to absorb dew drops, so do not let your orchids go without water for a long time. It is also not good to over water your orchids, in fact it is probably the number one beginner orchid care mistakes that leads to orchid growing failure. Follow the navigation links at the top of the page for more information on how to water.

Another important and often overlooked aspect is the actual type of water to use. The hardness or softness of regular tap water can make a huge difference to your orchids. If you do not know whether you have soft or hard water, you can always call your local water municipality for a report. Hard water can be troublesome for your orchids leading to lack of nutrient uptake and calcification of the roots. The best sources of water to use are rainwater, distilled water, and reverse osmosis or otherwise filtered water. This one piece of information could make a massive difference in your success with beginner orchid care. Follow the watering and fertilizing links in the navigation at the top of the page to learn more about this topic. And when you are ready to take your game to the next level, visit our page on how to fertilize orchids, beyond the basics, for our best recommendations.  

Beginner Orchid Care-
Fertilizer Requirements

If you follow the advise in the preceding paragraph and use rainwater, distilled or reverse osmosis water then your beginner orchid care fertilizing will be very successful. The most important thing to know when choosing a fertilizer is to choose a non urea based fertilizer made specifically for orchids. Urea based nitrogen needs soil bacteria to break it down to make it accessible to plants and since orchids are not grown in soil, this is why it is important to choose a non urea based fertilizer. Otherwise your orchids will be starved for nitrogen and this will lead to all kinds of problems for your orchid. Different species of orchids will have different NPK requirements. If your orchid came with a recommendation from the nursery grower for a specific type or NPK ratio of fertilizer, then it is best to follow those instructions. In general for beginner orchid care, many orchids will do fine with a 20-20-20 NPK ratio. Look for a fertilizer that has both macro and micro nutrients. At, we believe it is best to feed our orchids low doses of fertilizer on a weekly basis. Most commercial fertilizer brands will recommend monthly feeding and will have instructions of how much fertilizer to add to one gallon of (rain, distilled, or r/o) water. To feed on a weekly basis, take 1/4 of that recommended dosage and add it to a gallon of water. When it comes to fertilizer, more is not better, it is always best to err on the low side. And if you want to learn more about how we recommend that you fertilize your orchids, visit the page labeled Advanced Fertilizing in the Fertilizing drop down menu in the navigation at the top of the page. We hope you found this information useful and if you like Heavenlyorchids, please visit our homepage to sign up for monthly orchid photos and tips. 

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