How to care for orchids
  • By Orchids New Guinea
  • Posted January 6, 2017

Orchid Caring Guide

Orchids are the largest groups of plants on the planet with over thirty thousand species and thousands of hybrid varieties. As Susan Orlean notes in her book The Orchid Thief, these flowers come in a wide array of colors, different shapes and they emit exotic fragrances. This property makes orchids one of the most common houseplants, beloved for their beauty and healing properties. In ancient China, orchids were famous for their ability to treat fevers and diabetes. Homeowners lean towards growing orchids for three primary benefits; their ornamental property that enhances the outlook of a home, cultural symbol of love and luxury, and you can use them as food ingredients. With these benefits, you may be wondering, how do you care for an orchid? In this article, we share insights on how to raise orchids in your home.

Planting medium

Sun Bulb Better Gro Special Orchid Mix

The first consideration when growing orchids is the planting medium. Typically, orchids thrive in moss, pine, charcoal, bark, and Styrofoam medium. Moss looks like a sponge and holds water for long durations. If you choose to plant in moss, you will need to wait until the water completely dries out before watering again. Bark medium stores less water and therefore, you will need to do more frequent watering as compared to planting in moss. Bark has low nitrogen levels owing to bacterial decay that consumes most of the nitrogen thus leaving little amounts for plants. Use the right bark medium to suit the type of orchid you are growing. For instance, young orchids are delicate and thrive well in smooth bark while Phalaenopsis orchids do well in course bark medium.


Slotted Clear Orchid Pots

After selecting your favorite orchid variety from the tree nursery, you will need to transplant the flower soon after the flowering stage is complete. Use sterile snippers to cut the dead spike and transplant the orchid to a container. For best results, use specialized orchid pots that have wide drainage slits to allow water to flow through them easily. When transplanting, remove the fully bloomed orchid from the plastic container and inspect the roots. If the plant is healthy, the roots will be white and firm. If you notice blackened or rotten roots, cut them off to avoid transferring tainted roots to the new pot. Set the orchid firmly into the new container and add your preferred planting medium. Within a few weeks, new roots will develop through the mixture and anchor the plant firmly into the new vessel.


J R Peters Jacks All Purpose Fertilizer

Just like other plants, orchids require a boost of nutrients from fertilizer to ensure healthy growth. Application of fertilizer varies depending on the stage of the plant. Use fertilizer twice per week when the plants are producing new growth. Failure to do so will lead to stunted growth, and the flowering stage may fail. Take caution not to get carried away by applying too much fertilizer as it burns the roots and leaves of the orchid. Most manufacturers will recommend using orchid fertilizer only once a month during maturity stage.

You will also need to curb fertilizer supply during winter when plants are usually dormant and do not require fertilizer to aid growth. You can resume spoon feeding through watering with soluble fertilizers after the winter season is over. Seasoned growers recommend using only a quarter-strength of water-soluble fertilizer during each application. You can try J R Peters Jacks 20-20-20 fertilizer. This manner of the application provides sufficient nutrients each time you water the orchids. Remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label each time you apply fertilizer.

Orchid foods

Some growers opt to plant organically by using natural sources of nutrients. Other than fertilizer, you can supply nutrients to your orchids by using mulch, decomposing leaves, and animal droppings. Rainwater has essential minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, that aid the growth of these flowers. Potassium helps in flowering and development of fruits and therefore comes in handy towards the end of the season.


The frequency of watering depends on the how much water the plant consumes owing to internal and external factors such as humidity levels, air movement, and even the type of container used to grow the orchid. Remember to give these flowers ample time to dry out before watering them again. Inspect the orchids regularly to see the amount of moisture present in the soil by feeling with your fingers. If the root area is dry, then you need to water the flowers. When the cold arrives, keep your orchids warm by reducing the frequency of watering. You can schedule watering to just once per month and result to misting to keep the plants hydrated.


Usually, orchids grow in moderate light thus making them ideal for houseplants as blinds and curtains limit the amount of natural light. Place such orchids on window sills where a sheer curtain filters the penetration of natural light. The blinds also help to protect the flowers from direct contact with the rays of the sun as this can lead to scorching that happens with late-afternoon direct sunlight. If your apartment has considerably less natural light, place your flowers in an area where they can get sunlight. Otherwise, light deprivation will affect flowering. Examples of orchids that do well in low light are Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, and Oncidium.

Handling pests

Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap

Caring for orchids also involves warding off pests. Orchids often suffer from the infestation of common pests that affect the plant in different ways. Aphids suck on the stem; thrips chew on tender growth and buds, and mealybugs feed on the leaves and stem leaving a cotton mass on the surface. Snails and slugs hide in the potting media and nib on root tips. You can negate these attacks by washing off with insecticidal soap. While you can make this solution at home, passionate gardeners recommend using commercial soaps that are formulated for this purpose and have proven performance without harming your orchids.


In general, orchids thrive in high humidity with temperatures between fifty and eighty degrees Celsius. Use the right potting container to allow turbulent air to flow through the roots, and ensure that water can drain freely before the next watering round. Alternate regular durations of drying with drenching in the kitchen skin or using a watering container.