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How to Grow Healthy, Happy Orchids in Your Home

Winter came through my neck of the woods with a blast this week, in spite of it being just a week until spring officially begins.  With frigid temperatures and snow piling up outside my window, I was happy to look around and see my orchids in bloom.  I love that orchids bring a bit of the tropics to my home during the height of the winter season.  That helps to chase the winter blues away.

Seven Tips for How to Care for Orchids in Your Home

An Orchid in Bloom
A Reblooming Orchid


In my opinion, orchids are one of the best values available in flowers and household plants.  You can buy a beautiful orchid full of buds and blooms for less than $20 at grocery stores and garden centers across the United States.  Those flowers will last for about three months of colorful beauty in your home and require minimal care.

A White Orchid
My Reblooming White Orchid

When purchasing your orchid, choose a plant with just a couple of open blooms and many closed buds. This orchid will give you many months of lovely flowers.  Pass up any orchid that has wilting blossoms or signs that flowers have dropped off the plant.
Seven Tips for Orchid Care

When the blooms fade, don't throw your orchid plant out.  Save the stake that was included, too.
You'll be needing the stake again when the orchid reblooms.  With proper care, your orchid will bloom again.  The orchids you see pictured in this post are all plants that are reblooming in my home.

I want to reassure you that I am not an attentive home gardener.  For a plant to be welcome in my home it must require minimal ongoing care.  Orchids give back much more than the effort it takes for weekly watering and occasional grooming.  Surrounding myself with these beautiful flowers gives me joy.  I get very excited when I see the buds starting to form in the late fall of the year.  I know that in the dark and gray days of January and February, my orchids will reward me with their beautiful flowers. Orchids boost my mood in addition to being a delightful addition to my decor.

Watch this video for a complete guide to orchid care.


Seven Tips for Growing Healthy Orchids Indoors


Orchids thrive in bright, indirect light.  My orchids do best in my family room where they get bright, southern exposure.  Sunlight doesn't beat on them directly, but the room is bright and sunny throughout the year.


Choose orchids that will thrive in home temperatures.  I choose dendrobium and phalaenopsis orchids because they do well in the 65-75 degrees F temperatures that are most often found in my home. These types of orchids are readily available locally.


Water weekly.  Orchids do not like to be wet.  Most of the time I use the ice cube watering method by placing 3-4 ice cubes in each plant once a week.  I supplement this method by occasionally taking each plant to my sink to give it a full dose of water that I let drain completely.  


Use an orchid potting medium.  You'll notice that your orchids are not planted in soil.  Most orchid potting mediums are primarily bark.  Orchids need air around their roots in order to thrive.  When you need to repot your orchids, be sure to use a potting medium appropriate for your type of orchid.


Fertilize occasionally.  Beginning in November, I spritz my orchids with a liquid fertilizer for orchids once a week when I water them.  This continues each week until the buds open.  After that, I give them a little spritz once a month.  This routine seems to work really well.


Groom as needed.  Your orchids will need very little grooming.  Once the blooms begin to fade, you can clip the spike to keep it neat.  When all of the flowers have faded, cut the spike to about an inch from the bottom.  Occasionally, a leaf will wither and needs to be removed.  Roots will grow out of the pot and that is a good thing.  You can see roots growing out of the pot in the picture of the white orchid above.  That is usual and a sign of a healthy plant.  If the roots get dry and brown, you can clip them.


Repot when needed.  Your orchids will need to be repotted every one to two years.  The potting medium will begin to break down.  When that happens, too much moisture will be retained around the roots.  Your plant's leaves will begin to lose their glossy shine and look unhealthy.  If roots get intertwined and compact, your plants need repotting as well.  Orchid roots like room to breathe.

You'll notice that your orchid is most likely planted in double pots, a clear plastic inner pot with a decorative outer pot.  When repotting, choose an inner pot approximately one inch larger than the prior pot, with good drainage.  Any decorative outer pot that fits the plant is appropriate.

You may need to cut the old plastic pot from the plant.  I find that the roots will grow through the holes in the plastic pot, making it difficult to remove the old pot when replanting.  Fit the plant into the new pot and fill with the new potting medium.  Don't pack it down.  You will be using the medium to stabilize the plant in the pot.  Water the repotted plant, making sure you let the water drain completely.  I usually add the stake back to the pot after repotting, so I don't misplace it.

When your orchid sends out a new stalk you'll want to train it to the stake.  When I bought them, some of my orchids were trained with clips that I reuse.  At other times, I will use a pretty ribbon and tie a small bow that will create some interest while the orchid sets its buds.  Occasionally, I replace the stake with an interesting branch from my yard.  Pussy willow branches are especially nice to use.

Do yourself a favor and buy yourself an orchid or two.  Not only is the original bloom a good value for your money, but as your orchids rebloom year after year, they will bring you additional satisfaction and joy.

Did you know orchids are an edible flower?  Add a blossom to a favorite cocktail and you'll feel like you have been transported to a tropical island.

Essential Tools
Orchid stakes
Plant Clips
Orchid Fertilizer
Orchid Potting Mix
Orchid Pot

African violets are another indoor favorite plant.  They bloom continuously and add lots of color to your home.  Get my Seven Tips for Growing African Violets.

Read Winter Care for Orchids and African Violets.

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Enjoy!

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