How to Grow Orchids

Orchid courtesy of Atle Brunvol via Flickr

If you like gardening as much as I love gardening – outdoor or indoor, there is a pretty good chance that you often wished (I know I did anyways) that you could have grown beautiful, ever-blooming orchids.

I’ve written, taken photographs and posted about how to put together a garden that is easy to care for, an organic tea garden and how to make a rock garden. I’ve had pretty good luck with all of those but not as much luck with orchids and not indoors. I’ve tried several times and within a few months, ended up with a plant that didn’t look anything like the one I originally purchased.

But as the saying goes, I’m going to try again, because I really think that that orchids add something very special to any home decor and their blooms are one of the most beautiful out there. I am not thinking about installing a greenhouse and growing exotic plants with incredible blooms – I am thinking about making the most common type of orchid work for me.

Orchid courtesy of Atle Brunvol via Flickr

Orchid courtesy of Atle Brunvol via Flickr

I am referring to the Moth Orchid – the one that you can purchase pretty much at any supermarket of flower shop.

Moth Orchids are supposed to be one of the easiest ones to grow and take care of – so I figured I will give it another try. Here is what I learned as I researched the best way to grow beautiful orchids :

  • Phalaenopsis – or commonly called Moth Orchids are renowned for their easy care and beautiful flowers, which last a long time and return year after year
  • Lavish sprays of pink, white, yellow and purple colours, spotted , stripped or solid colours, they definitely add a touch of colour to any decor and an unexpected burst of colour in winter months
  • There is a bit of mystique about orchids – mainly because of their tropical origins. Their beauty has also given them a reputation of being difficult to grow. But generally, they are as easy to grow as African Violets or Boston Ferns.
  • Orchids enjoy a spot near a bright window – facing east is the best. If you are considering putting them to a window facing south or west, you will need to shade the windows with a curtain or trees to protect them from direct scorching sunlight.
  • They thrive in temperatures between 18 and 27C, best with day temperatures between 22 and 27C and 18C at night. Cooler night time temperatures will encourage flower spike initiation.
  • Orchid potting medium should be kept evenly moist. They should be watered once a week or two weeks, depending on the potting medium and the location in the home. You can finger test the medium for moisture or note weight of the pot. Take care not to let water settle in the crown of the plant where new leaves come from – that can cause rot.
  • Orchids prefer 50 – 60% humidity year round. Since this can be a bit higher than most homes, humidity can be increased by placing the orchid pot on a shallow tray filled with pebbles and water. Just make sure the plant roots are not sitting in the water.
  • You can encourage the orchid blooms by providing good nutrients. During the active growing period – spring and summer months, use a fertilizer with equal portions of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potash (K) – such as 20-20-20 or 14-14-14. In the fall, switch to a bloom-boosting fertilizer such as 10-30-20. Apply the fertilizer every second watering at 1/4 the recommended rate. This will induce the plants to set buds and flower.
  • Orchids actually grow on trees in their natural setting. Pre-packaged orchid medium is created to provide similar foundation. It is a mix of bark, charcoal and natural minerals – that provides pore spaces that retain moisture, oxygen and nutrients, consistently aerating the roots. You could also use sphagnum moss with Styrofoam chips or stones, places in the bottom of the pot for drainage.
  • Your orchid will need to be re-potted once a year – it may have outgrown the pot, the medium has broken down and is no longer providing proper conditions that are necessary for healthy growth and the roots may have rotted.

To re-plant :

  1. Remove the plant from the pot and let the medium fall away from the roots.
  2. Carefully trim away the rotted or dead roots.
  3. Select a pot that is just larger than the root ball
  4. If using bark mix, soak it overnight
  5. Place the ball into the pot and pour fresh media in and around the roots
  6. If using moss, place Styrofoam chips or stones in bottom of the pot, then pack moss around the root ball and insert  into the pot
  7. Resume your normal watering and fertilizer schedule.

This really does sound easy enough – I am going to purchase couple of these beauties and give it another try! If you decide to do the same, please keep me posted on your experience – your comments are always welcomed and very much appreciated!

With Love,

Mama Knows

About the author

Hanna Trafford

Hanna is the mother of two grown sons Dan and Dusan Nedelko, and is also the Grandmother to Jax, Cohen and Mila. She is the lead editor of Mama Knows and is hoping to create an exchange of communications with other grandmothers, mothers and daughters - giving everyone the opportunity to learn and share about everything that is "Mama"

Marie Dennison - July 26, 2013

I love orchids and I think I’m gonna give it a try, I will need all the help and prayers I can get, I’m not good at ferns or African violets I have had I’msome luck with them, a few times, so I’m gonna give it a go, I wish you good luck and I will let you know how things are going my way and I hope you do the same.
Marie Dennison