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Frequently Asked Questions About Caring for Orchids

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Orchids have a reputation for being both beautiful and challenging to grow. For those with a green thumb, only the first of these generalizations should prove accurate. The truth is, caring for orchids isn’t excessively challenging, just different.

Even home horticulturalists with experience growing other terrestrial plants often find themselves stumped when it comes to orchid care. Thankfully, there is an extensive community of avid orchid lovers out there to provide guidance. Newcomers to this community can read on to find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about growing orchids.

What Are the Most Popular and Common Orchids I Can Grow?

There are almost 900 different genera of orchids comprised of more than 22 thousand species. Some make better houseplants than others, though. The best orchids for novice horticulturalists include:

  • Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis)
  • Lady’ Slipper orchids (Paphilodilium)
  • Dendrobium orchids
  • Oncidium orchids
  • Cymbidium orchids
  • Cattleya orchids
  • Jewel orchids (Ludisiadiscolor)
  • Cockleshell orchids (Encycliacochleata)
  • Nun orchids (Phaiustankervilleae)

What Is the Best Kind of Fertilizer I Should Use?

Orchids require specialty formulas that do not contain urea. The gold standard for orchid fertilizer was established by MSU, and most major brands now follow it. As long as horticulturalists purchase fertilizer designed for orchids and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, they should be fine. Orchids require little fertilizer.

What is the Optimal Humidity Needed to Grow My Orchids?

It’s best to grow orchids in a humid environment. Most home orchids perform best when placed on humidity trays, which suspend plants above a pool of water. Handy horticulturalists can make their own humidity trays using saucers, cake pans, or other common household materials.

What Type of Light Is Required to Grow My Orchids?

Most orchids thrive in natural light from windows. Each type has different light requirements, so make sure to check them before choosing where to keep the plants.

What Kind of Orchid Pots Should I Use?

Experts believe that orchids perform some of their photosynthesis through their roots. As a result, they perform better in clear plastic pots.

What Is the Best Orchid Soil Mix?

All species of orchids require special growing media since the vast majority of them do not grow in soil, but on the bark of trees. Make sure the mix is light, airy, and well-draining to mimic the flower’s natural habitat.

What Is the Best Temperature to Use When Growing My Orchids?

Temperature requirements for orchids vary substantially by species. Most prefer intermediate temperatures. Horticulturalists also report that orchids do better with some night/day temperature variation.

How Should My Orchids Plant Be Watered?

Orchids appreciate humidity, but they do not want to be over-watered. Saturate the growing media every few days to once a week, but don’t let it become waterlogged.

How Should I Prune My Orchids?

Some orchid growers prefer to prune off only dying or diseased leaves. Others prune off spikes to extend the plants’ flowering seasons. The best time to prune an orchid is right before repotting. Just make sure not to go overboard.

How Do I Report My Orchids?

Repotting is easier than it appears. As long as novice horticulturalists get the species-specific timing right, they should have no trouble moving their growing orchids into larger pots. Most species need to be replotted around every 12 months when new growth starts to appear.

Final Thoughts

Growing orchids is no more complicated than cultivating other types of flowers. It just requires some specialized knowledge and tools. Don’t be afraid to start experimenting, even if it means losing the occasional bloom.


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