15 Easy-to-Grow Orchids that Will Brighten Up Your Home
Moth orchids are some of the least expensive, most common, and longest-blooming orchids widely available. In fact, one bloom spike can look great for four months or more. The flowers appear in shades of white, pink, red, green, yellow, orange, and purple.
How to Grow Them: Give moth orchids (Phalaenopsis selections) a spot in low, medium, or bright light and water weekly or every other week. Promote more and larger blooms by feeding moth orchids monthly with a fertilizer formulated for orchids. The plants do best in temperatures from 50 to 75°F.
Test Garden Tip: A drop in temperatures at night (usually by 10 to 15°F) helps encourage them to bloom. Try moving them to a cooler area of your home each night, like a basement.
Dendrobium flowers, often seen at florists in bouquets, offer long-lasting blooms (they stay looking good for a month or more) in an array of colors from white to purple, pink, and even green.
How to Grow Them: Dendrobium selections prefer a spot in medium to bright light. Water them weekly or every other week and fertilize them monthly with a plant food formulated for orchids. They do best in temperatures from 50 to 70°F.
Test Garden Tip: Hundreds of dendrobiums are available; the most common types keep their foliage all year and bloom on new stems.
Sometimes called dancing lady orchids, oncidiums offer lots of colorful smallish flowers in clusters of 50 or more. They commonly appear in shades of yellow, purple, red, pink, and white, often with flamboyant, contrasting markings.
How to Grow Them: Oncidium selections do best in medium to bright light. Water them weekly or every other week and feed them monthly in spring and summer with orchid fertilizer. They do best in temperatures from 50 to 75°F.
Test Garden Tip: Some oncidium orchids are wonderfully fragrant—watch for them to add an even more delightful note to your indoor garden.
Featuring waxy, long-lasting flowers in winter or early spring and an easy-care nature, it's no wonder cymbidiums are popular indoor plants.
How to Grow Them: Cymbidium orchids flower best if given a spot in bright light. In fact, you can even bring them outdoors to a shady spot for the summer. Water them weekly to keep them from drying out. Get them to bloom best by fertilizing them monthly in spring and summer. It does best in temperatures from 50 to 70°F.
Test Garden Tip: Cymbidium orchids flower best if given cool temperatures—under 50°F—for a number of weeks, which is why they're usually in bloom in winter.
Lady's Slipper Orchids
Perhaps the most distinct orchids, tropical lady's slipper offers big blooms composed of a hollow "pouch" backed by a sepal and two petals. Even better: Many lady's slippers orchids have variegated foliage, so they look beautiful when they're not flowering too.
How to Grow Them: Lady's slipper orchids (Paphiopedilium) grow well in low, medium, or bright light. Water about once a week, and feed them monthly in spring and summer with an orchid fertilizer. They will do best in temperatures from 50 to 70°F.
Test Garden Tip: Watch out for multi-floral varieties that produce several flowers per stem. They'll give you a bigger display for a longer period of time.
You might think of this as a corsage orchid, but it's a wonderful indoor plant, as well as a cut flower. Blooms are often fragrant and appear in a wide range of colors, from red to pink, white, yellow, and orange. Some selections feature eye-catching markings in other colors.
How to Grow Them: Cattleya orchids do best in medium or bright light. Water them once every week or two, and feed them monthly in spring and summer with an orchid fertilizer to get the biggest blooms. They do best in temperatures from 50 to 70°F.
Test Garden Tip: Cattleya orchids can bloom twice a year and the flowers last for weeks. Make sure they get plenty of light so they rebloom quickly.
This beauty isn't usually grown for its flowers. Instead, it's the lovely purple foliage with pink stripes that attracts attention. The small white blooms, which appear in late summer or fall, are a cute accent to the leaves.
How to Grow Them: Jewel orchid (Ludisia discolor) does best in low to medium light. Give it a drink once every week or two. If you want, feed it with an orchid fertilizer once a month. It does best in temperatures from 55 to 80°F.
Test Garden Tip: Give jewel orchids plenty of humidity to keep their gorgeous leaves from developing brown, crispy edges.
Here's another wonderfully distinct, easy-growing orchid. Cockleshell orchid produces purple, clam-shaped flowers with chartreuse-green sepals that look a bit like tropical tentacles. The flowers last a long time and a mature plant produces lots of blossoms. In fact, it can be in bloom all year long.
How to Grow Them: Cockleshell orchid (Encyclia cochleata) grows best in low to bright light. Water once every week or two so the orchid mix just dries between waterings. Encourage more blooms by giving it orchid fertilizer once a month or so. It does best in temperatures from 60 to 80°F.
Though its flowers look dramatic, nun orchid is easier to grow than most people think. In winter, it features clusters of purple, brown, and white flowers on stems to three feet tall, along with rich green corrugated leaves.
How to Grow Them: Nun orchid (Phaius tankervilleae) thrives in medium to bright light. Water it weekly from spring to fall; water every other week or so in winter. Encourage better blooming by feeding it weekly in spring and summer with an orchid fertilizer. It does best in temperatures from 60 to 80°F.
Test Garden Tip: Make sure this orchid doesn't dry out and the air doesn't get too dry—otherwise the magnificent foliage may develop brown edges.
Closely related to oncidiums, this group of orchids produces clusters of large, usually spectacularly colored flowers that last for weeks. They're most commonly available in shades of pink, red, orange, yellow, and white—often with splotches of other colors.
How to Grow Them: Odontoglossums (often called odonts) thrive in medium or bright light. Water them once a week or once every other week, and feed them once a month in spring and summer with an orchid fertilizer. They do best in temperatures from 50 to 70°F.
Test Garden Tip: Many odontoglossums are very easy to grow, but some are quite challenging. Check into a variety's ease of care before taking it home.
‘Sharry Baby’ Oncidium
If you love the fragrance of fresh-baked brownies, you’re bound to fall in love with Oncidium ‘Sharry Baby.’ The 1-inch maroon flowers of this prolific flowering plant are marked with white and perfume a room with a subtle chocolate fragrance. ‘Sharry Baby,’ like all oncidiums, boasts flower stalks that are bejeweled with dozens of petite blossoms.
How to Grow Them: ‘Sharry Baby’ thrives in intermediate light, temperature, and moisture. An east window or slightly shaded south window will provide just the right amount of light. Let the surface the growing media (usually moss or bark) just barely dry out before watering.
Test Garden Tip: If you are comfortable with the indoor temperature, ‘Sharry Baby’ will thrive. Use your comfort as an indicator of the right temperature for your orchid.
Lady of the Night Orchid
Lady of the Night orchid (Brassavola nodosa) is named in part thanks to its lovely fragrance that is most prolific at night. Unlike most orchids that bloom just once a year, Lady of the Night often blooms multiple times a year. Count on it to bloom in fall or winter and then again sporadically in spring.
How to Grow Them: There are hundreds of types of orchid plants and not all are adaptable to traditional home environments, but Lady of the Night grows well in a container when provided with bright light and moderate daytime temperatures. Allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering. Before plants bloom in late fall or winter, encourage flowering by not watering plants for a couple of weeks.
Test Garden Tip: Lady of the Night orchid flowers best when it grows in a location that has cool nighttime temperatures. A location that is 10°F cooler at night than the daytime temperature is ideal.
‘Rosy Dawn’ Slipper Orchid
‘Rosy Dawn’ is beloved by orchid growers for its ease of growing and big, bold flowers. Blooming in winter and occasionally in summer too, ‘Rosy Dawn’ has more pronounced coloring in summer and takes on a pale white hue in winter.
How to Grow Them: Slipper orchids grow well in low light. An east window is ideal. West or south windows can be used if they are shaded by a sheer curtain. ‘Rosy Dawn,’ like most slipper orchids, grow best when their soil is kept evenly moist. Don’t let these orchids dry out between waterings. Check the soil every other day or so and water plants when soil just begins to feel slightly dry to the touch.
Test Garden Tip: You can tell by the leaves if your orchid is getting too much light. A reddish tinge on the edges means you need to move the plant to a location with less sunlight.
Large flowers in rich colors make this Phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, a favorite. Count on it to bloom in fall or winter and unfurl blooms for more than 8 weeks when grown in ideal conditions.
How to Grow Them: Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica orchids grow well in warm conditions—they thrive in rooms that are 70 to 85°—and low light. An east-facing window is a great choice for this orchid. Phalaenopsis orchids also love humidity. Increase the humidity around your plants by setting them on low dishes filled with small stones. Fill the dish with water until just below the top of the stones. Set the orchid on top of the stones.
Test Garden Tip: Use room temperature water when watering.
This is a moth orchid with a big presence. Named for its gigantic leaves (which exceed 2 feet long in some instances), Phalaenopsis gigantea is grown for its foliage as well as its flowers. The parent of many orchids, it is known for its mottled, showy flowers.
How to Grow Them: Phalaenopsis gigantea grows best in low light. Place it in an east or north-facing window. Consistently moist—but not wet—soil is preferred. Water plants by delivering water directly to the planting media. Take care not to get the water between the long leaves. Phalaenopsis gigantea grows thrives in consistently warm temperatures.
Test Garden Tip: Pale, silvery green leaves are typical for Phalaenopsis gigantea.