Caring For Orchids – 5 Tips For Success

Two orchids of the Paphiopedilum family (Callo...
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Through the centuries, many people have believed that caring for orchids was difficult, or was an activity reserved for the rich.  There are more than 25,000 species of orchids nowadays, plus over 100,000 hybrid species!  With all this variety, it is possible for any would-be horticulturist to find an orchid that will fit into their budget, their lifestyle and their gardening skills.

Surprisingly, orchids generally do not need any more work than any other house plants or garden plants you may have.  Some do have special requirements, so it’s a good idea to find out the special needs of an orchid you are contemplating buying.  It’s the first step to caring properly for your beautiful plant.

Orchids produce especially beautiful blooms, which is why they are such popular house plants.  If you give the orchid proper care, you can keep it just as lovely and healthy as it was in the store or nursery.  Most of the orchids given as gifts are Phaleanopsis orchids.  These are very popular for their ease of care as well as for their lovely white or purple flowers.  Phaleanopsis orchids are a bit less delicate than rarer orchids.

Orchids can bloom for at least three months, if they receive proper care.  Place the plant near the window so it can get full light throughout the day.  Avoid exposing the orchid to harsh midday sunlight, which is harmful to the plant.  An eastern window in your home is ideal.  Try to arrange for the plant to receive plenty of morning and evening light.  These kinds of light are very beneficial for the orchid, but not as harsh as midday sun.

If an eastern exposure is not possible in your home, you can easily substitute fluorescent plant lights.  Position the lights about one to two feet above the orchid’s flowers and foliage, and be sure to limit the light exposure to normal daylight hours.  Resist the temptation to give the plants additional light far into the evening hours; “more” is not better as far as orchids and fluorescent light are concerned.  Limit fluorescent light exposure to a maximum of 12 hours daily.

Orchids love and thrive in temperatures ranging from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  If they are exposed to temperatures higher than 90 degrees, they may lose their buds or stop blooming altogether.  Keep the plant moist, but guard against overwatering, which will kill the plant.  A good rule of thumb is to water the plant once every ten to twelve days, or keep it in a water tray.  Be sure that the roots don’t touch the water in the tray or the plant will be over watered and will die quickly.

A great way to keep an orchid blooming for as long as possible is to fertilize it before it blooms – and not after.  Also, carefully prune the plant while it is blooming, and you will see an additional set of flowers develop.

With the right care, your orchid will be a delightful addition to your home, and it will give you a full, rich array of blossoms for its full blooming season.

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