Orchids are such gorgeous and exquisite flowers that are popularly known for their diverse range of varieties and for their high maintenance. However, that is just not true.
An Orchid plant is simply designed for a unique way of maintenance that is just different from other plants, usually. We’ll be going through the whole journey of how to take care of orchids, how to buy a suitable orchid, and extra notes on how to keep them fresh and long-lasting throughout years after years.
1. What are Orchids?
Orchids come from a large family of perennial epiphytes, called Orchidaceae. They are a group of flower species that grow in the rainforests of tropical and subtropical regions.
Since they are tropical plants along with being epiphytes, they cling to trees and absorb the needed nutrients and moisture from the air and rain surrounding their region of birth.
Orchids are a huge family which has over 28,000 species of variations and even 100,000 hybrids which is quite a large number for a family of delicate flowers.
They generally bloom once or twice a year and then go back to their resting phase. This phase is crucial for an orchid flower since it helps them replenish its energy for the next blooming phase, next year, or several months later.
The most suitable orchid for the home environment would be the Phalaenopsis Orchid, also known as the moth orchid. They are the most common orchids as well with over 100 variations of this particular type.
Apart from the Phalaenopsis orchid, another home-suitable orchid would be Dendrobium. But, you can choose whichever you want, according to the one that suits you.
The Moth orchid is available in a variety of designs, such as in stripes, speckles, and even solid colors. So, you’ll have a wide range of beautiful flowers to choose from!
For Beginners, who are new to the world of Orchid Care, Welcome! We’ll teach you how to buy the most appropriate orchids, how to take care of an orchid’s roots, how to keep them at their best-blooming stage, and how to keep enjoying their presence for many years!
2. How to Buy Orchids?
With the enormous variety of different colors of Orchids, it can get quite confusing to choose your orchid. But Worry not! We are here to help you out with proper guidance on what things to look out for when buying your first-ever orchid baby!
- A beautiful orchid is not enough, what is important is whether it has healthy roots. When buying an orchid, make sure to check for its roots. Roots determine whether an orchid is healthy and gets enough fresh nutrients from the air. Make sure your orchid has green or white root extensions, they symbolize good health. However, if the orchid has a brown or slight yellowish tone in its roots, it means they are nutrient deficient and its roots are rotting which is not good at all.
- When looking out for a particular orchid breed, it is best to buy Phalaenopsis Orchids. Since they are more adaptable for indoor orchid care than the other ones. They also appear in a bunch of designs and colors, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
- Orchid grows in tropical regions and that is why their way of taking care of them is simply unique, otherwise, it is a pretty low-maintenance plant. While choosing from the store, go for an orchid that is at its blooming stage. The blooming stage means when orchids are flourishing flowers. But the orchid also has a number of buds in it so that you can enjoy the rest of it at home. If an Orchid has every one of its buds bloomed, it means they are about to end its blooming cycle and enter the resting period.
- Look out for healthy leaves in orchids. Make sure they are fresh and green. Avoid yellow leaves, since they might signify the orchid is facing temperature drops or lack of humidity. However, if there are yellowish-green leaves present at the base of the orchid stem, then it is normal. Many orchid leaves turn yellowish since they are always shedding their leaves, for new ones to come. Do not worry though, it is the process of your orchids being mature.
- Make sure the orchid you are buying is free from bugs, like spiders, measly bugs, or scale insects. It is an indication of the orchid’s poor health and urgency to be treated quickly.
- It is also recommendable to give your orchid a sniff to check the smell of its fragrance. Healthy orchids would smell exquisite. However, a bad or soul smell refers to an unhealthy orchid.
All the flowers need proper care ever since you take the responsibility of keeping them. During your journey from the shop to your home, do not keep your orchid at extreme temperatures like near a hot vent or near the air conditioner in your car. Yes, even the slightest variation in their local temperature can harm your new family member.
So, here is the long list of helpful tips that you need to be aware of if you’re out to bring your first-ever orchid home. We hope that these tips will guide you with lesser confusion and help you choose a lovely healthy orchid, more easily.
3. How to Pot your Orchid Properly?
Once you bring your Moth Orchid home, it is time for potting your flower plant properly. Everything about orchid care is important but I find this part of orchid care absolutely crucial. So, get your paper and pen ready because it is time to take down some notes!
There are two broad ways to properly pot your orchids.
- Using Sphagnum Moss
- Using a Special Orchid Potting Mix
We’ll get to these individual ways in a moment. But, first, you need to select your special orchid pot.
Take a medium-sized plastic pot, in which your orchid can fit well, i.e not too tightly or too loosely. Make sure the plastic pot has drainage holes. It is critical to provide your orchid with a holed-up container.
You may put the plant in a plastic decorative container but you need to consistently make sure that they have a good water drainage system.
Orchids cannot stand stagnant water levels like other garden plants. Their roots end up absorbing excess water which leads to rotting roots and they suffocate and die. So, always be aware of this particular need of the orchids.
An Orchid’s roots are usually tightly bound to the sphagnum moss, which is no surprise, of course! Since they cling to the other trees and derive moisture from the air, orchids’ roots are the main part that needs consistent maintenance. Let’s go back now to the potting procedures!
3.1 Potting with Sphagnum Moss
Potting the orchids require the best solutions. One of them is Sphagnum Moss. It is the kind of substrate for orchids that can hold water a lot better than the bark. They keep your orchids moist and well-hydrated throughout their blooming cycle.
In the shops, they usually take care of orchids with this particular moss, so you don’t have to find or buy it separately. But it is always recommended to pot your orchids on your own once you get them home.
Orchids grow pretty well in sphagnum moss but always pot in a pot with holes. Drainage is very important for orchids. If you put it in a normal decorative plastic pot and water the plant, then make sure to do the next steps.
If you water orchids in a container with no holes, then take out your plant after watering it. Make sure to remove the extra water from the container and let your plant drip for a few seconds.
The motive of this process is to make sure that your orchid does not stay in standing water but also keeps itself moist and wet. In this way, you are preventing yourself from over-watering your plant as well.
After you are done watering your orchid and draining the extra water, you can place your flower plant in the same pot.
It is not much of a worry to put the orchids in a container without holes if you can do the extra work by taking care of its weekly drainage.
3.2 Potting with Special Potting Mix
Apart from Sphagnum Moss, there is also a great alternative for potting your orchid. It is the special potting mix for orchids. For these indoor plants, regular potting soil or garden soil is not compatible. That’s when the potting material comes to light.
Orchids need a fresh growing medium to comfortably grow and bloom in their season. The special potting medium is made up of gravel, plant fibers, tree bark, and many other compounds.
Let us see how to pot your orchid with this special mix.
Take your orchid pot and take out your orchid plant. Open the roots of your plant, don’t hold back. Just gently unwrap the tightly bound roots that are attached to the moss, and take out the moss slowly.
You can even check the greeny roots as you untwine the root network. Make sure to take out all of the moss fibers, so that the old material does not hinder the growth of the flowers in their orchid pots. Please check that no old medium is left. Time for the orchid mix now!
Lay some amount of orchid mix on the table and stuff some of it among the roots. Make sure that the mix is well wrapped up along the roots since that is how the orchid will be absorbing water.
If your potting medium is the orchid mix, the pot must have holes. If it does not, then you have to pull them up and drain the water, which will cause the mix to fall off. So, it is recommended to use a pot with holes for this potting process.
3.3 Extra Tips for the Potting Process of Orchids
In order to grow orchids, you must be aware of a lot of things. Orchids require consistent efforts from your side, then only they can thank you later with their wonderful blooms.
- Flowering plants like orchids are prone to root rot, especially the orchid soil turns like a regular one. You need to remember that as you water your orchid every week, their potting soil will slowly degrade and turn into the texture of garden soil, which further leads to root rot due to extra water absorption.
- You need to start repotting orchids every year. It is not about only phalaenopsis orchid care but most orchids out there need the same kind of maintenance in order to serve for the long term. You cannot pot your orchid once and sit back forever. You need to re-pot it once or twice a year for the replenishment of new fresh nutrients and air.
- The air roots of your plants keep getting bigger and longer as they are growing orchids. So, the same-sized pot would no longer be a fit for them. You will have a slightly larger pot of about 2 inches but not more to re-pot your orchid in it.
- During the process of orchid repotting, always check for unhealthy roots or dead kink extensions. Make sure to cut them off from the dead part so that it does not hinder the orchid blooms in the future.
- For cutting the dead roots of orchids, make sure to use a sterile cutting tool like scissors or pruners, so that you can prevent any dirt infection to cross-contaminate between your lovely plant.
When repotting your orchid every year, properly examining the health of your orchids is necessary. You should look out for any kind of pests, bugs, or spiders feeding on your plant roots or on its bright green leaves.
If you do find any such presence, make sure to isolate your orchid from other existing plants and put it under quarantine to treat it individually. Isolation prevents those bugs from spreading to your other plants.
Now, that we are done with all of the needed information about the potting and types, procedures, and critical measures for orchid care, it is now time to go ahead and learn about the environmental needs of an orchid.
4. Environment Requirements for Orchid Care
The care for orchids requires a great and suitable ambiance for our new members. So, let us look into the criteria for a good environment for orchids one by one.
- Orchids prefer a bright light filled room but also a cool environment. To be precise, it means not too hot or cold. It must be a warm room where there is plenty of light. You can put your orchid on a bright windowsill where it bathes in the indirect light from the Sun. Make sure you place your plant in an east-facing window, or northeast so that it gets sufficient indirect light within a warm room. Please make sure your room has enough air circulation for your plant to grow naturally.
- Orchids prefer moderate temperatures to tropical plants. They enjoy a cool environment with proper warmth as well, as a high amount of humidity. A humid environment is a huge requirement for orchids. Make sure your room has at least 50% humidity levels for the orchids to live long and healthily. For temperature requirements, indoor orchids enjoy a warm temperature of 60-70 or 80 Fahrenheit. Most orchids thrive and grow at this range, while a few orchid varieties may have some alterations. Just make sure your orchids stay away from too much light or low light. Both of the extremes will throw your growing orchids out of balance.
- If you cannot increase the humidity in your room, you can try another simple alternative. Phalaenopsis orchids or moth orchids require a local humid environment to grow. Use a gravel tray full of water, and put your orchid on top of the tray. This way, the water level or humidity will rise around the leaves of the orchids and will provide a perfect environment for them, without contacting their roots, which is the main purpose here.
- Care for orchids is not difficult if you diligently pay attention to your moth orchids. They simply need enough light in the room. It can be from indirect sunlight or from filtered artificial lights, they need balance. Too much light or too much darkness is not their thing.
- Most orchids react to low humidity with their leaves. If there are fewer humidity levels in your room, you will immediately know by just looking at your little orchids. The leaves may turn yellow and brown, which can indicate about their needs are not met. They might turn dark green leaves to fader in color and luster and fall off.
So, here is the list of crucial environmental requirements for moth orchids or phalaenopsis orchids. There is a lot of information to intake about an orchid but the next part is the most interesting one! The Blooming Stage!
5. Care for Orchids in the Blooming Stage!
Till now, we have been learning and discussing the orchid-growing tips but it is finally time for the concept of orchid blooms!
When your baby moth orchids or phalaenopsis orchids are in full bloom, it is now time for getting into the deeper details of orchid care.
- Orchids need to be watered every 7-10 days, basically in a weekly pattern. It must be room-temperature water provided along with proper filtration. Make sure orchid roots stay moist but not too much.
- The next week, before watering your orchids, please check whether the soil has dried up or not. If it is dry soil, then proceed with watering. Otherwise, please wait a day until your plant is ready to take in water once again.
- During the bloom period, you can take extra care of orchids and use an orchid food full of nutrients along with orchid fertilizers.
- Please do not use regular plant food but use the one specialized for orchids. Make sure to read the instructions on the box and use it accordingly with proper dilution and application. The same goes for fertilizers. Regular fertilizers are not suitable for orchids, use the ones manufactured exclusively for orchids.
- Sometimes, the leaves lose their shine and turn dull. You may use a natural leaf shiner for rejuvenating the leaves. You can also cut off yellow dead leaves from its flower stalk to keep the plant healthy.
Never attempt orchid repotting when your plant is in full bloom. It may affect them heavily.
Only start the process when the plant has bloomed through its season. They bloom for several months during winter and finally enter the resting period.
6. Care For Orchids In The Resting Stage
What is an orchid’s resting period, you may ask? During several months in winter, orchid blooms and give us a stunning sight of their breathtaking beauty. After they have bloomed their cycle, the orchid stops blooming and takes a long resting period.
At this time, they stay dormant during the summer and monsoon months and restore new fresh air and nutrients for replenishment to start their next bloom cycle the next year.
- Once your orchid has finished its bloom cycle, it is time for its resting months. After a few days of bloom cycle completion, you’ll notice that the flower stem of your orchid is starting to turn brownish and is wilting slowly. This officially indicates that your orchid has ended its bloom cycle.
- At this time, you need cut off the main flower stem gently from near its base, so that it doesn’t hurt the flower spike or the flower stalks. Now that the flower spent stems have been cut off, your orchid flower can rest now.
- This orchid will spend all of the months until next winter, regaining its energy and renewing itself for the next bloom cycle. Think of this resting period as the dormant stage. After finishing a long week at work, don’t we all long for relaxing weekends? Yes! think of this resting cycle as that kind of energy restoration period. After the period is over, you will see a new green stem coming out once again.
- It is during this period that you can put all your efforts as a plant parent so that during the next bloom, your orchid can flourish even more elegantly. Make sure to water your orchids sufficiently and on a consistent weekly basis to keep them prepared.
Please remember, that you can only start repotting your orchids once they have entered their resting period. So, now is the perfect time for showing off skills for orchid care!
7. A Few Don’ts To Remember
Taking care of orchids needs a great amount of knowledge and consistency. But there are a few things that we strictly should not do or avoid doing at any cost when it comes to our little baby orchids.
- Never keep your orchids in direct sunlight. Since they are quite delicate flowers, the direct heat from the sun may burn the leaves and create brown patches. So, always keep them under indirect light.
- Never keep your orchids standing in stagnant water. Always remove the excess level of water and make sure they are having an efficient drainage system. Otherwise, their roots will lead to rotting.
- Avoid using ice for watering your orchids. The chilly cold temperature is definitely harsh for their health. Use only room-temperature water that is balanced temperature-wise.
- Do not do mist or water sprays. While a lot of people use them, they may damage the leaves and the blooming flowers. Make sure to wipe off the extra droplets of water still present on the leaves.
- Do not try to cut off the air roots. As you know, orchids derive their moisture and food from the air, so if their roots are coming out of the pot and facing the air, please let them be. They are simply feeding themselves.
Finally, we have reached the end of our orchid-caring journey. Hopefully, you have found this helpful for your flowery journey with us.
Check Out: Indoor Plants that Don’t Need Sunlight
Before we finally wrap up, did you know that orchids help you remove VOCs from your households? Those are the volatile organic compounds swirling around in your home. So, basically, your baby orchids are protecting you in return for your consistent efforts for it!
Orchid maintenance is not difficult, it is just unique. Orchids are delicate and gentle florals. The beauty and liveliness they spread deserve way more appreciation than they get. If you have plenty of love for these royal orchids, it is easy to take care of them with just a little bit of orchid knowledge.
Sampurna is a passionate writer of Icy Tales, with an obsession for words and poetry. Writing about restaurants, food & drinks is uniquely her cup of tea. But her writings are not just limited to those, she can bring out different perspective of life through her articles.
She writes about the topics that we generally do not hear. She will give you a unique way of finding extraordinary things in an ordinary life.