Orchids as Houseplants

Dazzling orchids are an exotic delight. Best of all, they're easy to grow!


+ enlarge image Give a cattleya center stagein the bright light of aneast or lightly shadedsouth window.

To thrive in your home, orchids require the same kind of attention you give your other plants, but watering is most important. With some exceptions, keep the potting medium moist but don't let the plants sit in water. This generally entails watering once a week. When growing cattleyas, allow the potting medium (porous ground bark) to dry out between waterings.

Occasionally mist the air around the plants to increase humidity. Or, set pots in a pebble-lined tray filled with water to just below the bottom of the pots. When the plants are in active growth (producing roots, stems, and flowers), feed them weekly with a water-soluble orchid fertilizer. When the plants settle into a resting period and don't grow, fertilize every other week. Repot as needed according to Potting an Orchid.
Learn more about the light needs of indoor orchids!

A Bit of Natural History

In their native tropical habitats, orchids often grow on tree trunks and limbs. As epiphytes, these plants take moisture and nutrients from the air around them, not from soil. Indoors, they grow best in a loose, porous medium, such as pine bark, or a mix formulated for orchids. Such mixes may include bark, sphagnum moss, and charcoal.
Click here to learn 14 more tips for growing orchids in your home.

Light: Medium-High
Time:
1 hour
Skill:
Moderate

What You Need:

  • Pot
  • Pine bark or soil, depending on orchid
  • Pebbles (optional)
  • Dowel or stake

Great Orchids for Beginners

Instructions:

+ enlarge image Step 1: Timing

1. Timing: Repot your orchid when the roots become crowded and grow over the edge of the pot or when the medium breaks down, usually every three years. Repot in warm weather when the plant finishes blooming and new roots are forming.

+ enlarge image Step 2: Preparation

2. Preparation: Soak the new potting medium (pine bark or soil) in water overnight. If the old medium is dry, water it well because it's easier to remove from the roots when moist. Unpot the plant, remove potting medium, and trim any dead or damaged roots.

+ enlarge image Step 3: Potting

3. Potting: If desired, place a layer of pebbles in the bottom of the pot. Set the orchid in the pot; place those with horizontal stems (rhizomes), such as cattleyas, so the rhizome sits 1 inch below the rim. Fill the pot with the medium.

+ enlarge image Step 4: Finishing

4. Finishing: Work the medium around the roots and pack it down firmly until the plant seems stable. Make sure rhizomes (if present) remain at or near the surface. If you need to stake the plant for stability, do it now with a dowel or similar device.
Click here for even more tips for successfully growing orchids.

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