How To Grow Orchids At Home
Orchids are long-blooming, tropical plants that are loved for their arching stems full of big, bright flowers. It’s surprising that such a unique and exotic plant could be easy to grow… but it is! With attention to light and water, orchids can be simple and rewarding. Here’s how to grow orchids at home.
Think of your orchid in it’s natural environment. Those odd, corky-looking roots are designed to cling to large trees beneath a leafy, tropical canopy in a warm, humid rainforest. To replicate those ideal jungle conditions, orchids are best placed in bright, but indirect light. They need some sun, but not the full glare of a sunny window. Place your orchid adjacent to a window, or directly into a sunny window amid other plants that will provide some shade.
Our homes aren’t like a jungle rainforest, but we can help to keep orchids happy by paying attention to their basic needs. When you purchase an orchid, you’ll find it’s not potted into soil like many houseplants. Instead, the thick, grey-green roots will be planted into a coarse media made of bark. Ideally, your orchid will maintain humidity in that barky mix and around the roots, just like it would if it was growing on a tree. Providing extra humidity to an orchid and it’s roots with mist from a spray bottle can help to boost moisture in between waterings.
Watering mindfully is the most important part of caring for an orchid. You’ve probably heard the hacks for watering orchids with ice cubes, but this isn’t really recommended. Your orchid is a tropical, heat-loving plant, after all! What your orchid wants is to maintain some moisture in that bark mix at all times, without staying too wet. How can we do this? Saturation!
Orchids are usually sold in a clear plastic pot with plenty of drainage holes. To water, fully submerge the grower pot into a bucket or larger pot of water. Allow it to soak for 5 minutes so that the bark mix becomes moist, then remove the plant from the water and let it drain completely. Place your watered orchid back into it’s desired location and it will grow happily! An orchid growing in a bright, warm space will need to be watered once every 7-10 days, in general.
Re-Potting & General Maintenance
Orchids can bloom for 2-4 months at a time, but the flowering time does come to an end. That’s ok! Plants need time to rest and rejuvenate before they can bloom again, and it’s possible to keep enjoying your orchid for years. When the blooms of your orchid have all shriveled and fallen, you can reduce the frequency of watering and move it to a spot with less light to give your plant a break.
Over time, your orchid may outgrow it’s pot. When roots begin “climbing” out or the bark begins to break down, it’s time for a fresh pot. Remove the orchid from it’s grower pot, and inspect the roots. Trim away any shriveled, mushy, or black pieces. Replant your orchid into a slightly larger pot that has plenty of drainage. Terracotta pots are ideal, since they allow for good air flow. Be sure to use an Orchid Mix for repotting.
Like all plants, orchids need to be fed! Use an Orchid Food every 4-6 weeks when the plant is in bloom, or when encouraging rebloom after a rest.