The key to success with orchids is selecting the right variety. Moth orchid (Phalaenopsis), shown here, is one of the easiest to grow. It's also one of the most common orchids for sale.
Many orchids produce flowers once a year. An important key to getting yours to rebloom is to give it enough light. Most don't need direct sun -- an unobstructed north- or east-facing windowsill should provide the brightness they need.
Test Garden Tip: Orchids don't require natural light; most will thrive if they're kept 8 inches or so beneath a traditional florescent fixture.
Almost all orchids appreciate high humidity, so they're great choices for growing in a bathroom or near the kitchen sink. If you'd like to provide your orchids with more humidity, set the pot on a tray of pebbles filled with water. The orchid's pot should sit on the pebbles, just above the water, which surrounds your plant with a moist environment.
Test Garden Tip: Grouping plants also increases humidity as they release moisture into the air as they breathe.
Giving them too much water is one of the most common reasons why orchids die. In nature, many common orchids grow in the branches of trees where they live on rainwater that washes over them. That means they evolved with roots that can't stand to be wet all the time.
You may notice that the orchids you see at the store aren't growing in potting mix like other houseplants. This is because the roots need so much air. Pot orchids in a bark mixture or sphagnum moss.
Test Garden Tip: If you tend to water your plants a lot, then choose bark because it dries out faster. If you tend to underwater your plants, then moss may be a better choice because it holds moisture longer.
It's helpful to periodically wash your orchid foliage with room-temperature water. This removes dust that collects on the leaves and blocks light. It also eliminates pests should they begin to infest your orchids.
Blasts of hot or cold air, such as from an exterior door, leaky window, or heating vent can harm orchids. So position orchids a couple of feet from a window rather than on the windowsill.
If you grow an orchid, make it a showstopper by displaying it under a cloche, on an attractive stand, or other high-profile place.
Because orchids tend to weigh less than other potted plants (moss and bark are lighter than moist potting mix), you can display them in interesting places. For example, pop a candle out of a candleholder on the wall and drop an orchid in its place.
Some varieties have wonderful fragrances -- spicy, citrusy, sweet, and even musky. Some are fragrant only during the evening hours, so keep these factors in mind when you're shopping for orchids.
Orchids are known for their spectacular flowers, but many species have equally stunning foliage. This jewel orchid, for example, has stunning burgundy-black foliage with red stripes.
Some orchid blooms are more intricate than others. If you select a variety with unique flowers, such as this slipper orchid, be sure to grow it in a place where you can see it in detail.
There are thousands of varieties of orchids, so it should be no surprise that they come in different sizes. Small orchid varieties can grow in a teacup, but larger types such as cymbidiums and nun orchids can grow 3 feet tall or more.
Make your orchids stand out by matching them with your decor. The wide variety of colors means you're sure to find an orchid that perfectly complements or contrasts your home's color scheme.