How to Take Care of an Orchid


Authored by Kate Beswick in Gardening 
Published on 10-29-2009

Everyone loves the striking look of an orchid! But, because of their delicate look and feel, many people are scared to grow them in their homes. This is because they think that an orchid requires a great amount of attention and care and that they won’t be able to provide it. But actually, nothing could be farther from the truth! Orchids can be very easy to grow and maintain, as long as you know a few simple tips.

One of the most common concerns when it comes to taking care of an orchid is how much light the plant should receive. It’s important to know that an orchid should never receive constant, direct light. Even being placed in a windowsill that receives direct sunlight throughout an entire afternoon can cause the leaves of the orchid to become burnt. After this the leaves will darken to a grayish-black and the plant may soon die. Twelve hours of indirect light is usually sufficient for an orchid to grow and bloom. This means that it should never be placed in any location that receives full, direct sunlight.

The only time an orchid should receive direct light is if it stops blooming. If this happens, a fluorescent light can be placed one to two feet above the leaves. This light should not be given more than 12 hours a day. Then the orchid should be given a cooling down period. During the cooling period the plant should be taken out of all light and be kept at a temperature that’s below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Other than light, watering is another big factor in taking care of an orchid. Watering an orchid can become a bit trickier because how much water is required is dependent on the variety of orchid. Some orchids require that the soil becomes completely dried out before it is watered. Others though require that the soil still be slightly moist when it is watered again. On the other hand, some varieties of orchids require that they be kept slightly moist at all times. The general rule of thumb for orchids though is that they should only be watered every five to twelve days.

Fertilizing the plant is another important step in caring for an orchid. Orchids just like other plants need to be fertilized in order to receive proper nutrients. Too little fertilizing can cause the plant’s growth to be stunted. An orchid that is not fertilized enough can also cause the plant to not bloom properly. However, fertilizing an orchid too often can also cause it not to bloom properly because it will burn the leaves and the roots. Usually, an orchid only requires fertilizing once a month.

Transferring an orchid from pot to pot too often can also cause it to not grow properly. An orchid usually never needs to be repotted. However, in the case of two orchids blooming in one pot or an orchid outgrowing the pot that it’s in, it should be repotted so that there is only one plant to one pot. When repotting an orchid, it’s important to make sure that it is centered in the pot and that only healthy roots are repotted. Any roots that have become brittle or dark should be removed.

Watering, fertilizing, and making sure that the orchid has proper amounts of light are basic steps in orchid care. Making sure that these simple steps are followed will ensure that a beautiful orchid will bloom in the home for many months to come!


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