Caring for Orchids: A Rewarding Experience

Caring for orchids is such a rewarding experience, their beautiful flowers lift the spirit, and provide joy and beauty to life. Orchids are exotic and beautiful plants that produce the most spectacular flowers and scents of perfume. Orchids are a little different from other houseplants, and can be a little challenging to take care of at first, but don't be intimidated. With a little bit of knowledge, you will be able to grow and care for orchids with ease. Most orchids in cultivation are epiphytes, also sometimes referred to as air plants. They do not grow in soil, rather they attach themselves to trees and branches with their roots acting as an anchor, exposed to the air from which they harvest rainwater and nutrients from animal droppings and minerals from the trees that they grow on. They do not remove nutrients from the tree itself, so they are not parasitic.

In cultivation we typically place orchids in a pot or growing container with a growing medium, usually fir bark, but sometimes a combination of bark, sphagnum moss and perlite. Some orchid growers like to use LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggreate) If you would like to know more about this type of orchid cultivation see this article on self-watering hydroponic growing. The growing medium helps to mount the orchid in an upright position but is also chosen for air circulation and not retaining too much moisture. It just takes a little bit of knowledge, proper care and attention, for your orchids to thrive and produce the most magnificent flowers that will leave you captivated with their beauty. Here are some tips to help you care for your orchids:

Caring For Orchid:The Basics

When choosing an orchid, it is important to keep in mind the type of orchid that you are adding to your collection, as different genus and species have different care requirements. Caring for orchids, such as the Phalaenopsis moth orchid, is more beginner-friendly and easier to care for than other genus of orchids, making them an excellent choice for those new to orchid care. Light, water, fertilizer, temperature and choice of potting medium are all factors that need careful attention in order for your orchids to thrive. 

White flowered phalaenopsis orchids

Watering Orchids

One of the most important things to consider when caring for orchids is water. Orchids need adequate watering, but both overwatering and underwatering can cause harm. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can lead to poor nutrition. The terms watering and fertilizing are often used synonymously as these are generally combined. Depending on the type of orchid and the environment it is in, the frequency of watering may vary. Therefore, it is essential to check the growing medium before watering and ensure it is dry to the touch. This can be done by placing a finger into the growing medium to feel for moisture or by judging the weight of the container which, with experience you will become more intuitive. Always be careful not to allow water to pool in the petiole area where the leaves and stem meet as this can lead to rot and fungal diseases. 

It is also important to maintain the cleanliness of the plant, including its leaves and roots. This can be achieved by wiping the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust and debris and using sterilized tools when pruning or repotting.


Orchids require light to grow and bloom, but too much direct sunlight can harm them. Therefore, it is best to find a bright, well-lit area that is shaded from direct sunlight. Different types of orchids require varying amounts of light. For example, Phalaenopsis orchids can thrive in relatively low light conditions, while Vanda orchids require bright indirect sunlight to bloom. Optimum lighting conditions will help produce healthier plants and can be a factor in flower production.  Phalaenopsis, Miltoniopsis, Masdevallias, and some Paphiopedilums will do best in low light to bright shade conditions. Brassias, Cattleyas, Miltonias and Oncidiums like brighter indirect light conditions and Brassavolas, some Cattleyas and Vanda's will do best in very bright light conditions. All orchids can benefit from some grow light supplementation especially if you have difficulty finding the right location or do not have a suitable window area for your plants. 


Orchids require specific temperature ranges to grow and bloom correctly. Most orchids thrive in temperatures between 70° and 90°F during the day (20° to 30° Celsius) and between 50° and 70°F (10° to 20°Celsius) at night. It is important to note that some orchids, especially Phalaenopsis really need a cooler temperature drop at night to induce flowering.

Proper air circulation is necessary for orchids to grow and prevent mold, fungal diseases, and pests from harming them. Ensuring the growing area has optimal air circulation by providing fresh air and avoiding overcrowding is essential. Placing a fan in your growing area can help keep the air circulating and your plants will love it. 

Orchids prefer a humid environment, so placing a tray of water near the plant or using a humidifier can help increase humidity levels around the orchid. Additionally, misting your orchid regularly will keep it healthy and prevent the roots from drying out.

In addition, avoid exposing your orchids to drafts, especially during the winter months. Cold air can harm your plant's growth and cause buds to fall off prematurely.


Orchids should be fertilized regularly to promote healthy growth and blooming. Different orchids require different nutrients to thrive, and it is best to fertilize weakly every week. In nature, orchids receive their nutrients in gentle quantities from rain passing over bird and animal droppings and minerals that leech from tree bark. It is important to keep that in mind so as not to damage the roots and reduce flowering by over fertilizing. You can read more about fertilizing here

Pruning and Potting

Orchids are typically potted in well-draining growing media consisting of bark, a combination of bark, sphagnum moss and perlite or LECA. They should be potted snugly in their pots, and the pot should not be too big, as this can cause the roots to stay wet for too long.

Pruning helps maintain the plant's shape and attractiveness and promotes new growth. Always use a sterilized tool when pruning to avoid spreading diseases. Orchid roots can benefit from pruning and is something that should be taken care of every one to two years when repotting. Cut off any blackened or withered roots. Learn more about root care here. 

Orchids should be repotted every one to two years to refresh the growing medim, prevent overcrowding of roots and to check for problems. Use a fresh potting mix designed for your genus of orchid, and if the roots are getting crowded, use a slightly bigger pot than the previous one.

Caring for orchids can be challenging, but it is a rewarding experience that requires a little knowledge, patience and skill. Always research and understand the specific needs of your orchids to ensure they thrive under your care. Lastly, if you notice any signs of disease or pest infestation, act quickly to address the issue. Early treatment can prevent the problem from spreading and minimize damage to your orchid.

Overall, caring for orchids can be a little challenging at first, but the rewards are well worth the effort. With proper care and attention, your orchids can produce beautiful flowers year after year, filling your home with beauty and fragrance adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to your home. 

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