How To Grow and Care For Your Orchid - Backyard Boss
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How To Grow and Care For Your Orchid

Orchid plants produce some of the most stunning and easily-recognizable blooms of all the flowering plants. With 28,000 species, orchids are native to every continent except Antarctica but grow naturally in arctic and tropical regions. Since many commonly kept as indoor plants are cultivated in the tropics, mimicking these temperate conditions is key to keeping your orchid happy and healthy!

Although some of these striking beauties can be difficult to grow and keep alive, plenty of varieties and hybrids will easily adapt to your home. To eliminate any guesswork, choose a mature plant already in bloom so that you’ll know what your efforts should achieve. Then, follow these simple directions to help your orchid thrive!

Materials Needed

Transplanting and caring for orchids
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  • Pruning shears
  • Specialized orchid pot with wide drainage holes
  • Orchid growing medium that provides ample drainage and aeration
  • Wide, deep dish
  • Gravel or small stones
  • Powder or liquid fertilizer
  • Watering can
  • Spray bottle

Identifying Your Orchid and Its Natural Habitat

Bright Pink Potted Orchid Flowers on Wooden Shelves
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The nursery plant tag on your orchid is a great tool to determine its species and specific growing requirements. Use that information to research where your plant grows natively. This will give you a better idea of the conditions you should try to replicate in your home. Keep in mind that depending on variety, orchids can thrive in humid, warm-climate, dry-climate, or high-altitude environments, and each type requires slightly different care.

Of the many species of orchids on the market, lower-maintenance options, such as moth orchids or cattleya orchidsare available with the ability to adapt to your home environment!

Choosing the Growing Medium

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Picking the right growing medium for orchids is a crucial step you cannot disregard if you want them to grow healthy and strong. Most importantly, it has to have adequate air circulation and allow water to drain quickly.

There are numerous mediums to choose from that work great, such as peat moss, fir bark, rock wool, stones, and lava rock. However, the right choice will depend mainly on the orchid you are growing. Therefore, ask someone in your local nursery or research which growing medium is best for your particular orchid species.

Lighting Conditions

Moth orchids on windowsill
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Most orchids require around 12 to 14 hours of natural light daily. In most climates, getting that much natural light year-round is complicated, so for the best results, move them around the house or provide them with artificial light (especially during the winter).

The intensity of light required differs by the species, but a west-facing window is usually too intense for these plants, and a north-facing doesn’t provide enough light. Therefore, the best location to place your potted plant is typically on an east- or south-east facing windowsill.

Humidity

Air humidifier near the orchid flowers at home
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Most orchids prefer a humidity range of 40 to 70 percent. You can provide them with these conditions by using a humidifier or gravel-filled trays containing plenty of water. You can also set them on rubber grids in waterproof trays.

Watering

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Orchids’ roots are designed to soak up water quickly and breathe easily. That’s why adhering to a strict watering schedule is crucial. In the summertime, it is important to drench your roots once a week until the water runs into your gravel dish. Alternatively, hold your plant under a gentle stream in your kitchen sink to properly hydrate the roots. Let the water drain to ensure your orchid is not sitting in water.

To further ensure you avoid root rot, allow your growing medium to dry out entirely between waterings and reduce your frequency to monthly during the winter. Mist your plant once in a while to offer humidity and hydration between waterings.

Fertilizing

gardener fertilizer home orchid plants
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If you want your orchid to thrive and grow healthy, supply them with the proper amount of fertilizer. Dilute a powder or liquid fertilizer to feed your orchid plant weekly during the growing season. Specific fertilizer recommendations vary by orchid type.

Note: Adding fertilizer straight after repotting isn’t recommended.

How to Repot a Store-Bought Orchid

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There are key moments in its life when you should repot an orchid. When you first get your new orchid, it will likely need to be repotted to ensure it has everything it needs to thrive. As it’s growing, if you see its roots climbing over the edge of its home, you will need to repot it.

It’s best to wait until an orchid has finished its blooming cycle before you repot it; not waiting could kill your plant.

Step One: Prepare For Repotting

The first step in repotting your orchid is to prepare a suitable growing medium. You can buy specialized orchid mixes from the store or create your own with a combination of chunky materials that provide ample water drainage and aeration. These materials include pine bark, peat moss, charcoal, stones, perlite, or pieces of cork.

Once you have your growing medium, use pruning shears to snip off the dead flower spike from your plant.

Step Two: Remove Plant

Carefully remove your plant from its store-bought container and gently rid the roots of excess moss.

Step Three: Snip Unhealthy Roots

Healthy orchid roots are green and quite firm. Use your pruning shears to rid your root ball of damaged or rotten roots.

Step Four: Add Plant to Orchid Pot

Place your prepped plant into a specialized orchid pot with wide drainage holes. Add your potting mixture around the roots until your plant is situated nicely. How firmly you need to anchor your orchid plant depends on its variety.

Finally, place your potted orchid in a wide, deep dish filled with gravel or small stones. This step prevents root rot from over-watering, which is the number one killer of indoor orchids!

To Sum Up

Orchids may be finicky, but many varieties can adapt to living on your indoor windowsill! Take note of the species of orchid you are trying to grow and its natural habitat. Mimicking these conditions is the key to success.

As a general rule, orchids require plenty of light, humidity, and air circulation. Provide your plant with a potting medium conducive to the needs of its sensitive root system. Adjust your watering and fertilizing schedule throughout the seasons to enjoy your orchid blooms year after year!

What do you think about growing orchids in your home? As always, please share!

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